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Orr spokesperson attempts to intimidate protester

Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr's spokesperson, Bill Nowling escorts COO Gary Brown.

Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s spokesperson, Bill Nowling escorts COO Gary Brown.

By T. Kelly

The Michigan Citizen

DETROIT—Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s spokesperson Bill Nowling attempted to block anti-EM protestor Sarah Coffey during a sidewalk interview by WXYZ reporter Kimberly Craig Oct. 21.

Craig conducted the interview with Brown on the street across from the Coleman A. Young Center following the demonstration of over 200 bus drivers fed up with the lack of safety on the job.

Accompanied by Nowling, Brown was talking to Craig when the protestor slipped in to be caught on camera behind the two.

Coffey is an activist with the group Detroiters Resisting Emergency Management, or D-REM. She attempted to get her sign, a bright red stop sign poster with the words, “Stop PA 436,” but Nowling stepped away from the camera, turned around and moved back and forth following Coffey, trying to keep her sign off camera.

“This man is touching me,” Coffey called out at one point. Glaring at her for the four and a half minute dance, Nowling later explained himself.

“I was standing next to Mr. Brown before she arrived.  She chose to stand that close. Her intent was to disrupt Mr. Brown from conducting a media interview.  My job was to ensure that Mr. Brown was able to conduct his interview and afterward we left peaceably.  My only comment with the woman in question was to ask her not to touch me after she pushed the sign in my face and touched me with it,” Nowling wrote in an email.

“That was weird,” said one Homeland Security Officer who stepped out of his car as the Nowling-Coffey confrontation began.

Nowling is not the first Orr appointee to draw criticism. Last week, Jim Bonsall, chief financial officer, resigned Oct. 15 after he asked at a city staff meeting discussing the role of staff on Angles Night, “Can I shoot someone in a hoodie?”


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