Opponents of a new state law that gives greater power to the appointed emergency managers of financially troubled municipalities held a rally before the parade started, the South Bend (Ind.) Tribune reported. Several hundred protesters dispersed through the crowds lining the route, giving the governor a constant reminder of their presence.
The law allows emergency managers to void union contracts and to ignore local elected officials. Benton Harbor, a community on the shore of Lake Michigan that is more than 90 percent black, was already under an emergency manager when the law was passed.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson said Friday his Rainbow PUSH Coalition is opening an office in Benton Harbor for a campaign against the law, The Detroit News reported. He said it violates the Voting Rights Act by stripping elected officials of any power.
Jackson met Friday with Thomas Perez of the Justice Department's civil rights division.
"We think Benton Harbor is to voting rights protections what Selma, Ala., was to secure the right to vote in the first place," Jackson said.