Vice mayor receives criticism over controversial Facebook post at city commission meeting

Mount Pleasant City Commission discussed the vice mayor's recent social media conduct at its Jan. 25 meeting. Vice Mayor Amy Perschbacher drew controversy among Mount Pleasant residents with a Jan. 18 Facebook post.

The post made was an image of a "Thin Blue Line flag" being peeled back to reveal a black swastika. Perschbacher said the post was provided without context and has since apologized and removed the post.

The image was shared and drew immediate criticism from Facebook users. Later on, media outlets followed the story and were provided Perschbacher's written apology.

Commissioners voted to add a discussion on the post to their agenda. Four Mount Pleasant residents added public comment. One resident called for Perschbacher's removal from office. 

Central Michigan University Professor Maureen Eke spoke in defense of Perschbacher's explanation and advocated for a larger discussion on law enforcement and human rights to be held among community members.

"She posted it on her personal Facebook, Eke said. "Someone took it and interpreted it as the city's position, but clearly, she did not say this is the city's position. It's important we make these distinctions."

Recent CMU graduate and local civil rights activist Darian Bird was also in attendance and spoke on behalf of Perschbacher. 

After public comment, City Manager Nancy Ridley read messages and comments sent to the city in regard to the incident. Some spoke in defense of Perschbacher's actions, but many called for her removal.

Later in the meeting, city commissioners offered their opinions on what action or consequences should be considered moving forward. 

"As a city commissioner, I support all our men and women in uniform -- from the U.S. military to our local officers," Commissioner Petro Tolas said. "I condemn the violence that occurred at our nation's Capitol on Jan. 6, but I also condemned the derogatory actions made by Vice Mayor Perschbacher on Jan. 18."

Commissioner George Ronan countered.

"My father fought in WWII,and  I was in the military during the Vietnam War. I've certainly done what I can to defend the constitution," George Ronan said. "I just think free speech is important. I think when that starts to become limited it worries me terribly."

The city commission is awaiting legal advice from city attorney Mike Homier before proceeding with any legal action. Homier said he will be able to advise the commission within the next few days.

Perschbacher's term as city commissioner ends this year. She is up for reelection in November.

Other Business

  • The commission formally appointed Kyle Keehbauch to the role of street maintenance specialist
  • Joseph read a proclamation recognizing Peacemaking Recognition month this February.
  • Joseph appointed himself and the other commissioners to city standing and special committees. The mayor's appointments are available on the city's website.