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UM Law School postpones Snyder panel amid controversy

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder
Gov. Rick Snyder

Organizers at the University of Michigan Law School postponed an event, which drew some controversy, which was to feature Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder.

The event's page online has been updated to include the following statement:

“The organizers of the event do not wish to distract from efforts devoted to higher priorities in the state and have postponed this event."

Michelle Rodgers, UM Law School's communication director, confirmed the postponement to Michigan Radio, and said a new date for the event has yet to be determined. 

Though the Feb. 9 event was set to focus on the Detroit bankruptcy, it received backlash from a coalition of Ann Arbor organizations and UM students for its attempt to “glorify the actions of emergency management and the Snyder administration” amid the Flint water crisis, according to a Facebook event page.

The panel, titled “Detroit Bankruptcy and Beyond,” would have also featured Steven W. Rhodes, the former judge who handled Detroit's bankruptcy; Gerald Rosen, chief judge of the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Michigan and architect of the so-called "grand bargain," which shielded pensioners from steep cuts and city-owned art from liquidation during the bankruptcy; and Kevyn D. Orr, the former Emergency Manager of the city of Detroit.

The coalition of Ann Arbor organizations, including the Ann Arbor-Flint Solidarity Network, Ann Arbor Alliance for Black Lives, the National Lawyers Guild at MLaw, and several other groups, co-sponsored the event, according to the event’s Facebook page.

Despite the postponement, Marion Berger, an event organizer and UM student, wrote on the event page that a protest will still take place.

“It's clear that Snyder is humiliated, but humiliation won't bring us justice for the many lives that have been affected by his emergency manager laws and active belief that profit is more important than people. His humiliation won't bring back the Black lives that have been lost to police violence during his time in office. His humiliation isn't enough to make us stop working for justice. Justice for Flint, justice for Detroit, justice for Michigan.”

Berger wrote that the protest will also provide an opportunity to donate household items to Flint residents.

Rodgers did not confirm whether the event was postponed due to the planned protest, or if it was postponed at request of the Snyder administration.

This event will not be the first Ann Arbor protest against the Snyder administration. On Jan. 18, protestors gathered outside of Snyder’s Ann Arbor residence, demanding on his resignation over the Flint water crisis.

Snyder has drawn criticism from the national level as well. Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have both denounced Snyder at a January democratic presidential debate.

Clinton and Sanders, who have both shown attention to Flint during the water crisis, will debate in Flint on March 6.

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