Royal oak – A city businessman injured in a scramble match in August outside an Elks club in Royal Oak has filed a federal complaint against Mayor Michael Fournier, Zoning Council Chairman Clyde Esbri and the city alleging that his constitutional rights have been violated.
Greg Stanalajczo, a Fournier and City Commission critic of a controversial development involving a civic center and park near his office, says in the personal injury lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan that officials of Royal Oak “conspired to crash. a private meeting â, and assaulted him.
The alleged incident took place during an August 7 meeting for members of the Royal Oakers 4 Accountability & Responsibility, or RO4AR, a group opposed to the city’s controversial plans to move the Royal Oak Veterans War Memorial.
Fournier openly criticized the group and its opposition to the monument’s relocation plan. Fournier is a candidate for re-election on November 2. He is being challenged for the post by political newcomer Tom Roth.
Fourier and Esbri reportedly attempted to block the meeting, the prosecution argues, carrying a body camera, telling RO4AR members they were filming in their “official capacities” as officials in the town of Royal Oak.
Stanalajczo’s lawyer Ven Johnson said his client saw Fournier and Esbri harass RO4AR member Erika Sykes while she was guarding the door.
Stanalajczo, according to the lawsuit, then told Fournier and Esbri that the meeting was private and for group members only.
Esbri then allegedly assaulted Stanalajczo. When he attempted to defend himself, Esbri punched Stanalajczo again, according to the lawsuit, slamming him into the jam on the door and the wall, injuring his shoulder, which required surgery.
Neither Fournier nor Esbri could be immediately reached for comment on Thursday.
“Apparently, Mayor Fournier and President Esbri had nothing better to do than interrupt a private meeting,” Johnson said in a new statement on Thursday. âThey knew they shouldn’t be there, carried a body camera to record everything and announced their presence as city officials. They knew exactly what they were doing and that a physical alternation was likely to occur.
âTheir despicable conduct was designed to intimidate these citizens into having opposing views about the government,â Johnson argued. “The last time I checked, the First Amendment still applies to freedom of speech, the right to come together even to oppose the current government regime.”
Stanalajczo was also a plaintiff in a July 2017 lawsuit to stop the Royal Oak civic center plans. The lawsuit was dismissed by Oakland Circuit Judge Cheryl Matthews, who found Stanalajczo and others lacked standing to challenge the land deal. The decision was ultimately upheld by the Michigan Court of Appeals in 2018.
Stanalajczo continued to speak in public and at city commission meetings on other issues, including the decision to move the war memorial from the city, according to the federal complaint. Stanalajczo’s actions, according to the lawsuit, are all constitutionally protected.
After protests, a collection of petitions and court challenges, an Oakland County Circuit Court judge ruled this summer that the location of the memorial should be decided by city voters. The decision, challenged by the city, was upheld by the state’s Court of Appeals. The measure will appear on the municipal ballot in November.