Royal Oak mayor calls for city commissioner’s resignation after attending ‘Operation Gridlock’

‘Commissioner Gibbs willfully violated the law and put countless lives at risk,’ says Mayor Fournier

Protesters stand on the steps of the State Capitol in Lansing, Mich., Wednesday, April 15, 2020. Flag-waving, honking protesters drove past the Michigan Capitol on Wednesday to show their displeasure with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's orders to keep people at home and businesses locked during the new coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) (Paul Sancya, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

ROYAL OAK, Mich. – Royal Oak Mayor Michael Fournier is calling for the resignation of Royal Oak Commissioner Kim Gibbs after she attended a protest in Lansing on Wednesday.

Earlier in the week, thousands of Michigan residents crowded the capitol to protest Gov. Whitmer’s extended stay-at-home order amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

READ: ‘Operation Gridlock’ -- Michigan stay-at-home order protested in Lansing

Critics of the extended order claim the new limitations are excessive, as certain businesses are closed and product sales are halted for the next few weeks.

Mayor Fournier asked Gibbs to resign from her position as a Royal Oak Commissioner, saying she broke the law by participating in Wednesday’s protest.

“I have the moral obligation and duty to stand with the victims of this pandemic, their families, and the people I swore to protect. Commissioner Gibbs willfully violated the law and put countless lives at risk. She lacks the judgment and empathy to serve the people of Royal Oak,” Fournier said. “Her actions and words do not reflect the majority of our city commission or our residents. There is always room for debate on how to safely and effectively open our economy, however there is no excuse for endangering others by deliberately breaking the law. If she cares about Royal Oak she will resign so we can begin healing from this black eye she has placed upon us.

“By the way, the public outrage has nothing to do with her attending the protest and exercising her free speech,” Fournier added. “It has everything to do with what she did when she was there. Free speech is protected; flagrantly breaking the law and exposing more people to this virus is not.”

Fournier further addressed the issue in a Facebook post on Thursday morning, claiming the commissioner’s actions are not representative of the city’s constituents.

COVID-19 UPDATE: Let me be clear: The actions of one commissioner DO NOT represent the views of the majority of the...

Posted by Mayor of Royal Oak on Thursday, April 16, 2020

Gibbs defended her participation at the Lansing protest and criticized Whitmer’s extended order in a Facebook post on Thursday afternoon.

On April 15, 2020, I attended the gathering at the Capitol building to support the unheard voices of small business...

Posted by Royal Oak City Commissioner Kim Gibbs on Thursday, April 16, 2020

The commissioner says the state still needs to be careful amid the pandemic, but should be working toward reopening the economy instead of limiting residents further.

“I fear that the Governor and our County government are satisfied with this overly simplistic approach of taking a blunt object to the entire state instead of developing the plans with surgical precision that will keep us safe while preserving hundreds of thousands of jobs and businesses,” Gibbs said. “It is their duty to develop these plans immediately, so that we can begin phasing them in as soon as it is determined that safety can be maintained.”

Whitmer defended her executive order amid the “Operation Gridlock” protest, citing the seriousness of the pandemic in the state.

“Michigan has the third most COVID-19 cases in the nation right now," Whitmer said. “We’re not the third largest state in the nation. That tells you that we got a unique crisis on our hands and it demands a unique solution.”

Fournier echoed Whitmer’s statement on the seriousness of COVID-19 in his Facebook post.

“As of today (Thursday), Royal Oak has lost 14 of our own to this virus. This is personal and this is enough motivation to stay united and put our own needs aside for the greater good,” Fournier said. “Reckless and irresponsible behavior during the biggest public health crisis in a century shall not be overlooked or go unchecked. It is during times like these that we demand the best from ourselves and each other.”

Gibbs has not announced a resignation as of Saturday evening.


About the Author:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.