BENTON HARBOR, Mich. – Mass protests are scheduled for the Senior PGA Championship at Harbor Shores this May. The announcement was made Wednesday by a group of commissioners and activists outside the Senior PGA office at 101 Main St. in Benton Harbor.
"If they think they saw mass protests during the Blossom Time Parade, they have not seen anything," said Benton Harbor Mayor Pro Tem Marcus Muhammad. "Even civil disobedience if necessary if Joseph Harris or an emergency manager is here in May."
Muhammad was joined by leaders with the Rainbow-PUSH Coalition, NAACP and other city commissioners. The press conference was originally billed as an announcement for a protest in Ann Arbor scheduled for Martin Luther King Day.
"We will fight and take things to a whole other level. Whatever needs to be done we're willing to do it," said Rev. Fred Pinkney with the NAACP. The planned protest is over Public Act 4, the state bill that stripped Benton Harbor's elected officials of their power because the city's finances were so mismanaged.
"We vote for our city commissioners, our mayor, so our vote should not be made null and void,"
Rev. David Bullock with Rainbow-PUSH Coalition, Jesse Jackson’s activist group. Bullock has been been fighting the bill around the state.
Bullock said there is still a lawsuit pending and more than 160-thousand signatures have been collected to repeal the bill. He said protesting is the next step."While we have litigation and petition, we also have occupation and demonstration."
In May, Benton Harbor will be the stage to set one of those scenes. "If you see people sitting in on golf tees, sitting in on golf greens, sitting in on driving ranges that's what it's going to come to,” said Muhammad. “Hands off, Benton Harbor."
The Senior PGA office in Benton Harbor didn’t comment directly on the situation but issued this statement to ABC 57 News:
"We are excited to bring the most historic and prestigious Championship in senior golf to Benton Harbor, Michigan and to partner with KitchenAid in presenting the Senior PGA Championship. The eyes of the golf world will focus on Benton Harbor in 2012 and 2014 and we look forward to showcasing how golf can help strengthen and transform lives and communities through positive economic and social benefits."