A Michigan Mayor Tried To Stop Constituents From Criticizing Her. Now, They’re Suing.
“I’m gonna talk over you. This gonna be one of those meetings ya’ll never seen before,” Monique Owens, Mayor of Eastpointe, Michigan, told one constituent during a September city council meeting.
Owens repeatedly attempted to shout down speakers during the meeting—even while other council members urged her to stop. For her behavior, she’s now facing a lawsuit alleging that she violated constituents’ First Amendment rights.
During a city council meeting on September 6th, 2022, Monique Owens frequently interrupted constituents who attempted to speak in favor of Harvey Curley—an Eastpoint Councilman with whom Owens has been engaged in an ongoing dispute. Despite being frequently warned by her fellow councilmembers—and being told by the city attorney that the speakers “have a right to address the city council or they may speak individually about a member of the council as well,” Owens continued to shout down critical speakers.
“I also have my First Amendment right,” Owens replied to the city attorney. “And if you saying something I don’t like, as my First Amendment right, whether a mayor or not a mayor, I’m going to speak.”
On November 9th, the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) filed a lawsuit on behalf of four speakers at Eastpointe City Council meetings. The lawsuit alleges that Owens and the city of Eastpointe violated the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights in two ways. First, the lawsuit claims that Owens violated plaintiffs’ rights by shouting over them and preventing them from speaking directly.
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