| Detroit Free Press
He’s gotta go.
That’s what a south Warren group says needs to happen to its City Council member, Eddie Kabacinski, who stood with counterprotesters at a march against racism last month.
The Sept. 19 march was organized after a Black family in Kabacinski’s district was attacked three times for having a Black Lives Matter sign in the window of their home. Kabacinski showed up in military attire with a gun on his hip and carrying a large flag for President Donald Trump.
The South Warren Alliance of Radical Movement or SWARM says Kabacinski — a first-term member on the non-partisan City Council — doesn’t represent the citizens in his district in the south end of the state’s third-largest city.
“He’s in the most diverse district of Warren. It’s completely unacceptable to show up at the rally where the (family) was speaking. They live in his own district and were victimized in a way they could have been severely injured or killed. It’s a clear demonstration on where his values lie,” said Bridget Quinn, an organizer with SWARM.
The group plans to ask Kabacinski to resign or be censured during Tuesday’s council meeting. It’s also researching a recall effort.
Kabacinski, 47, did not return calls or emails from a Free Press reporter.
Council President Pat Green said censuring a council member is not in the council’s rules of procedure or the city charter, but there is a mechanism in Robert’s Rules of Order.
There is nothing specific on Tuesday’s agenda regarding a censure, but Green plans to make a statement at the meeting.
Green said while council agrees Kabacinski has the First Amendment right to say what he wants, “Councilman Kabacinski’s position is not reflected on the whole of council.”
The council issued a statement after the attacks, condemning them and offering sympathies to the family.
The Sept. 19 march was organized by SWARM and Detroit Will Breathe after Eddie and Candace Hall, who are Army veterans, had their house and vehicles vandalized by a neighbor three times. Police said the man fired shots at their home, threw a rock through a front window, slashed vehicle tires and wrote offensive remarks on their pickup truck.
More: Warren man tells judge he didn’t target Black family because of race
During the Sept. 22 City Council meeting, Kabacinski spoke for nearly three minutes, calling those at the march with SWARM and Detroit Will Breathe “traitors.”
Kabacinski falsely claimed that President Donald Trump and U.S. Attorney General William Barr have officially declared Antifa and Black Lives Matter as domestic terrorist organizations. Both men have attacked Black Lives Matter and Antifa, but neither is designated as a domestic terrorist organization.
“These Communists, Marxists and Socialists are committing high crime offenses of treason in our country by these two official declarations,” Kabacinski said.
He said SWARM and Detroit Will Breathe, “two groups that are connected with Antifa and Black Lives Matter, invaded District 5 with a so-called ‘March Against Racism in Warren'” Sept. 19 at the Hoover Eleven shopping plaza.
Kabacinski said those who “Back the Blue” and support law enforcement were there for a peaceful demonstration on a piece of privately-owned property. He said the protesters impeded traffic on Hoover Road and assaulted the counterprotesters, trying to take their Trump flags away, and should have been arrested.
More: March to show support for Black family in Warren gets contentious
The march, estimated to have hundreds of people, was contentious at times, with some protesters clashing with the approximately two dozen Trump supporters, according to news accounts. No one was arrested.
A few people who called in during public comment at the Sept. 22 City Council meeting supported Kabacinski.
Darlene Doetzel said Kabacinski got a handful of counter-protesters out safely when the “police officers left us.”
She said “BLM was going to slaughter us, is what they said, that they would slaughter us.”
She said she has known Kabacinski for a long time and “he is no racist.”
Other callers disagreed.
Gary Jury said he respected Kabacinski’s time in the military, but said “his insolence to me is beyond disgusting.”
“Eddie, get over it,” Jury said. “You’re not in the service anymore. You’re standin’ out there battle-fatigued. You still talk like you’re in the service. I honestly, after hearing you tonight, you have some serious, serious issues goin’ on upstairs.”
David Metzler said he sat with Kabacinski after the primary election.
“I thought he was gonna be good for the city,” Metzler said. “I appreciate the work that he did for the residents near 8 Mile, but this has to stop” in regard to Kabacinski’s comments.
Quinn, the SWARM organizer, said Friday that Kabacinski used “racist and fascist rhetoric” and “that’s completely unacceptable.” She said he also was the only council member to vote against a budget item for a diversity coordinator position in the city.
Quinn, who said she lives in Kabacinski’s district, said he hasn’t been condemned by anyone on council or the mayor.
“Why do we live in an environment where this sort of thing is OK? I think his actions have told us enough about him,” Quinn said.
More: 4 of Warren’s longest serving councilmen knocked off ballot — again
Kabacinski won the District 5 council seat in the November 2019 election, with 53% of the vote. He replaced Councilman Robert Boccomino after the Michigan Supreme Court ruled Boccomino and several other longtime council members could not run again because of term limits.
The Sept. 22 meeting wasn’t the first time Kabacinski brought attention to himself or his words. He donned a military gas mask for part of an April 14 City Council meeting.
Green told Kabacinski that he didn’t think it was proper for him to be wearing that at a council meeting and said Kabacinski was out of order. Green didn’t demand Kabacinski take off the mask and said he understood his concern, but added: “I don’t think it’s proper for our meeting.”
At that meeting, Kabacinski talked about job loss, business closures, people losing their homes and a “loss of freedom” because of actions Gov. Gretchen Whitmer took to control the spread of COVID-19. He said people have a 98.5% chance of surviving the virus, and the economy needed to be restarted.
“The purpose of wearing the mask was to show the amount of lunacy that has taken place with this coronavirus,” he said, adding by using proper hygiene “you’ll be fine.” He said there has been “a lot of death, but we have a lot of death from other pandemics that have taken place.”
“Death is a part of life. I would know about that since I lost 14 men under my command before. I know what that’s like. We’re all gonna have to deal with that, but we have to start our economy back up again because there’s gonna be a lot more hurt and a lot more loss if we don’t have that.”
Local news reports have said Kabacinski served in the Gulf War.
Kabacinski was quoted in Time this month, saying that he is “not in favor of wearing a mask” and “it’s just an infringement on people’s civil liberties, it’s not mandated in our Constitution.” He also defended Trump’s actions during the pandemic, saying: “He’s the President of the United States. Nobody has the right to question him.”
There are four flags and nearly two dozen campaign signs outside Kabacinski’s house in Warren, several of which support Trump and other Republican candidates, and one that reads: “Our Governor Is An IDIOT Pure Michigan.”
He listed his employer as Warren City Council on campaign finance documents filed in July with Macomb County.
In the documents, he put in for parking expenses for three rallies at the state Capitol in Lansing on April 30, May 14 and May 20 for “Operation Haircut.” Rallies those days protested several of Whitmer’s executive orders because of COVID-19.
Kabacinski didn’t denote the names of the other two rallies, but there was a rally April 30 to protest against Michigan’s state of emergency, in which legally armed protesters entered the statehouse. A rally May 20 was about Whitmer’s stay-at-home order.
Kabacinski also put in the documents for various food items and supplies that in the memo line were listed for the “Wuhan, China virus food drive.”
More: How long should a Warren mayor serve? Voters to decide — again
Contact Christina Hall: [email protected] Follow her on Twitter: @challreporter.
Support local journalism. Subscribe to the Free Press.