Detroit officials announced late Wednesday they will investigate claims that one of emergency manager Kevyn Orr’s top appointees made racially insensitive statements on the job, demeaned black women and at one point asked, apparently in jest, if he could “shoot someone in a hoodie” during Angels’ Night.
Cheryl Johnson, who is black, was demoted from finance director to city treasurer on Oct. 3. She said in a letter addressed to Mayor Dave Bing, Orr and other top city officials that Jim Bonsall, the city’s chief financial officer whom Orr appointed in July, routinely demeans and berates employees openly during meetings — but in a manner that “is more pronounced with minority women,” according to the letter obtained Wednesday by the Free Press.
Reached outside his office at City Hall on Wednesday afternoon, Bonsall, who is white, said he was unaware of the letter or the allegations and declined to comment. He said he would confer with Orr’s office and then consider responding. He did not respond by Wednesday night.
Orr spokesman Bill Nowling said Orr met with Bonsall on Wednesday afternoon and told him the city would investigate the accusations.
Johnson accuses Bonsall of creating a hostile work environment and retaliating against her after she complained, by having her demoted. In the letter, she said the comment on shooting someone in a hoodie — an apparent reference to the fatal shooting of unarmed Florida teen Trayvon Martin — came as city officials were explaining to him that Detroit administrators customarily participate in Angels’ Night neighborhood patrols leading up to Halloween to help prevent arsons.
Johnson couldn’t be reached for comment. Orr announced last week that she was being appointed city treasurer and losing the position of finance director, a move Johnson called a demotion in her letter.
Read the rest of this egregious story in The Detroit Free Press