HAMTRAMCK — Mayor Amer Ghalib fired back at critics of the city’s new law that banned the display of LGBTQ+ flags on government property, saying the city was being subject to “extortion” for choosing to “stay neutral when it comes to flying flags of different groups.”
He also chose the opportunity to announce he intends to run for mayor again.
“In the coming days, you will notice strangers demonstrating in your city and disturbing the public peace by provoking you with their actions and behaviors,” Ghalib said. “I ask everyone to commit to calmness, wisdom and not to friction with them, and I also ask everyone not to incite against one another, and not to vandalize private property whatever it may be, and not to trespass on public property or use it for one party against another.”
Ghalib made the statement on Facebook over the weekend, days after the city had approved a resolution that outlawed the flying of certain flags.
Ghalib argued the new rule was about “emphasizing the neutrality of civil government and not discriminating against anyone or giving privileges to anyone in the case of raising flags in public.”
The resolution was approved on June 13 following a tense City Council meeting. The ruling keeps flags that pertain to religious, racial, ethnic or sexual-oriented group off of properties like City Hall, libraries and parks.
The only flags allowed include the American Flag, the state of Michigan Flag, Hamtramck’s city flag and the Prisoner of War flag.
Hamtramck’s vote to ban the pride flag enters a larger discourse around culture issues in the U.S. Issues dealing with sexuality in schools and libraries have spilled onto the Internet in recent months.
Several political leaders, including Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, made veiled references to the new ordinance in statements following the vote.
In Hamtramck, Ghalib said residents should “be confident that your government will not back down from its positions.”
“No matter the pressure and threats, regardless where it is coming from, young or old on the street or from government officials, I will continue to serve everyone equally and not give special privileges to anyone at the expense of another,” he said.
In 2021 Hamtramck City Council narrowly voted to fly Pride Flag
On June 8, 2021 and after a heated meeting of the Hamtramck City Council, the multi-colored flag barely made it up the pole at the Zussman Park across from the Hamtramck City Hall in honor of LGBTQ+ Pride Month. The city raised the flag in a special ceremony on June 19, 2021.
Then-Mayor Karen Majewski said that she was proud of her decision to cast the tie-breaking vote in favor of raising the flag. Majewski, who was running for a fifth term as mayor, said it was a no-brainer. Ghalib, who was a candidate for mayor at the time, voiced his objection to raising the flag during the discussion portion of the Council meeting.
“I’m gonna do what I know is right,” Majewski said then. “I’m not concerned about kind of counting or hedging my bets about reelection on an issue that is a human rights issue.”