TUESDAY, May 4 — A voice that resembled that of Michael Lynn Jr., the co-leader of the Lansing chapter of the Black Lives Matter movement, spoke up at the public comment portion of last night’s City Council meeting to tell Lansing Mayor Andy Schor to “shut the fuck up.”
“I want to use this time to tell Andy to shut the fuck up. Please, just shut the fuck up,” he said.
City Council Peter Spadafore interrupted to caution “Mr. Lynn” that Council rules prevent the use of offensive language at City Council meetings. He and City Attorney Jim Smiertka also warned the voice that there are “options to prevent you from commenting” if the cuss words continued.
The comment came from an online user named “Lansing’s Own” who logged into the virtual meeting using firstname.lastname@example.org — the email address for Lynn’s nonprofit group. Multiple news reporters and Spadafore quickly identified the voice as belonging to Lynn.
One issue: Lynn flatly denied ever having made the comment at all.
“What? There’s a meeting tonight? What are you talking about?” he texted this reporter in response to questions about the outburst. “How is there a meeting today? No. I didn’t do that.”
The same voice reappeared at the second opportunity for public comment at the end of the meeting, this time identified as “Michael Lynn Jr.” and using a different email address. Lynn again denied ever having made the first comment and sought to clear up the confusion.
“You called out my name on here saying you were going to censor me,” Lynn said. “Can you explain this to me?” None of the Council members responded and Lynn left the meeting.
Council Rule No. 18 guides “Rules of Decorum for Meetings” and grants authority to Spadafore, as president, to rule any speaker “out of order” for speech which “disturbs, disrupts, delays, interferes with or otherwise impedes the orderly conduct of the Council meeting.”
Spadafore suggested that future speakers may be asked to provide their name before they’re able to give public comment to clear up any future confusion over the identity of speakers.
It’s possible, especially given the virtual nature of Council meetings, that anyone could have played pre-recorded audio of Lynn telling the mayor to “shut the fuck up” at last night’s meeting. It’s also possible that Lynn — who is perhaps the most vocal critic of Schor — had acted on impulse and later regretted his statement, leading to the subsequent denials.
Spadafore said IP addresses are not tracked for individual attendees, making it impossible for city officials to track down exactly where each of the public comments originated last night.