By Jim Bloch
Kevin Lindke, the self-anointed watchdog of St. Clair County politics, announced his candidacy for the 2024 mayor’s race in Port Huron, coupled it with a threat against City Manager James Freed, taunted Mayor Pauline Repp, interrupted speakers at the podium and a few minutes later was escorted from the Port Huron City Council meeting by police and was arrested.
Lindke’s removal came about two-thirds of the way through a tumultuous regular meeting of the city council, held Nov. 13.
Lindke, who works for Blue Water Healthy Living, sued Freed for blocking him from his Facebook account; the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case on Halloween.
The audience bulged with residents demanding justice for the killing of the Joshua Conant, 26, on the sidewalk outside the Roche Bar following a bar fight around 2 a.m. Nov. 4. Videos of the events shows Conant face down on the sidewalk, pinned by bouncers and handcuffed by a Port Huron police officer. Conant’s uncle Mark Sanderson claimed earlier in the meeting that Conant was already dead when the officer handcuffed him.
Lindke’s comments during the public comment section of the agenda were laced with expletives.
“The only thing that smells worse than the s**t plant is you,” Lindke told the council, as heard on the audio recording of the meeting posted on the city’s website.
During his four minute public comment, Lindke called the council “trash” and called Assistant Police Chief Brian Kerrigan “a liar.” Lindke said Kerrigan’s statement about the killing did not match the videos of incident.
“You’re a problem,” Lindke said. “So is Chief Platzer. It’s time for you to fire them. It’s time for you to let Casanova go.”
Casanova is Lindke’s nickname for City Manager James Freed.
“Josh Conant’s blood is on your hands,” Lindke said. “This is what happens when you let police officers punch people in the face and don’t do anything,” Lindke said.
Conant’s death was the result of a lack of accountability in the police department, Lindke said, including an incident last year when a police officer Tristan Shoudy — the son of the city attorney Todd Shoudy — punched a man who was clearly inebriated in the face; the officer was reprimanded, but not fired. A federal lawsuit was later filed on behalf of the victim.
“We end up with situations like Josh,” Lindke said. “It was avoidable. Your department allowed it to happen. We all saw the videos… We all watched what happened. So why are you trying to gaslight us and tell us that’s not how it was?”
Lindke also took aim at Mayor Pauline Repp, noting that she had been in office 14 years.
“It’s time for you to be a leader,” Lindke said. “You run the mayor’s association of Michigan and look how terrible your own city is””
Lindke said that all he was doing was talking about the actions of Port Huron officials.
“You want me to act better at these meetings?” Lindke asked. “You act better … I’m just talking about your behavior… So if I’m the f*****g problem, I’ll be the f*****g problem. And I’ll keep being the problem until you guys stop being the problem.
“How many more people are you going to have die in the streets, Pauline? What’s the next incident going to be, Pauline?”
Then came his announcement.
“I hear that Casanova doesn’t like that I’m not a resident of the city,” said Lindke, who had been living in his mother’s basement in East China Township. “Well, I moved into the city three weeks ago and I’m running for mayor next year.”
The audience roared its approval.
“If I win, you’re gone, Casanova, I f*****g promise you,” said Lindke.
Mary Williams, representing the local branch of the NAACP, came to the podium. Williams said, “I’m here tonight for justice … for Josh.” Williams said it wasn’t right that those involved are walking free while a child is laid to rest. The bouncers, she said, should never have left the premises of the Roche.
Lindke continued to speak from his seat in the audience while Williams spoke. Williams asked Repp to “put him out.” Lindke and Repp went back and forth in the middle of Williams time at the podium.
A couple of more citizens took their turns speaking. Then Repp tried to speak, but Lindke interrupted her.
“Can I finish speaking?” said Repp. “I didn’t interrupt anybody else.”
Lindke stood up and unhooked his personal microphone from the podium.
“We don’t want to interrupt you jerking yourselves off anymore,” said Lindke, making his way up the auditorium steps.
“And that is what we have to listen to,” said Repp.
“It is what you have to listen to,” said Lindke. “We have to deal with dead people…”
“Please remove him from the audience,” said Repp. “He’s being disruptive… I am ordering you to remove him.”
Amid growing turmoil, Repp called for a motion and vote to eject Lindke, which passed.
Lindke said he was arrested on a charge of disrupting the peace, taken to the county jail and released around 9:45 p.m.
The mayor called a five minute recess and the meeting continued around 8:15 p.m.
Police also removed Lindke from a council meeting in May 2022.
Toward the end of October, Lindke filed a federal suit in District Court in Michigan’s Eastern District against the city and Assistant Port Huron Police Chief Brian Kerrigan, alleging a violation of his rights of freedom of speech. Lindke and his attorney, Lisa Stern, are awaiting Kerrigan’s and the city’s response to the summons.
Jim Bloch is a freelance writer based in St. Clair, Michigan. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.