LANSING, Mich. — Lansing City Council member Brandon Betz sent a series of taunting and profane text messages to Lansing firefighter and Black activist Michael Lynn Jr. Wednesday night.
Lynn had put up a Facebook post shortly after 9 p.m. criticizing Betz for agreeing with Mayor Andy Schor's State of the City Address after calling for Schor's resignation just month before.
After that, "the texts just came out of the blue," Lynn said during an interview with FOX 47 News on Thursday.
"How's having even less power in the city than you did a month ago going?" Betz wrote in the first text message, which was followed by 31 crying laugh emojis.
Betz went on to call Lynn a "weak ass b****" - he spelled out the obscenity - and, after Lynn protested that Betz was his council person, to tell Lynn he doesn't "represent a******s."
"All of his texts came with a racist tone," Lynn said. "The one about power, like what are you trying to say? I am less of a Black man now?"
Lynn initially told Betz he was "playing a dangerous game." He went on to ask the First Ward councilman multiple times to stop texting him.
"It was scary," Lynn said "When someone says that to you as a Black man, it's kind of like here is the set up.
Betz did not respond to messages left on his cell phone, by email and on Facebook.
Screen shots of the exchange were posted early Thursday morning on the Facebook page for Merica 20 to Life, the podcast that Lynn does with his wife, Erica.
The Facebook post, written by Erica Lynn, said the couple has been publicly critical of Betz for his decision to get a COVID-19 vaccination early and for "issues surrounding his efficacy" in office. She said Betz had texted her husband "out of the blue."
"This is some of the most shockingly unacceptable behavior I have ever experienced from an elected official," Erica Lynn wrote.
"To be clear, this was an attack, an attempt to goad a Black man into getting angry," she wrote. "To paint a picture that is constantly weaponized in our society that rarely goes in a good way for a Black man. I keep thinking about how bad it would be if the roles were reversed; a Black council member verbally attacking and harassing ANY constituent this way. It has left me feeling helpless, angry, betrayed, and hurt for my husband. I know how I feel reading those words, I can't imagine how he felt."
Lansing City Council President Peter Spadafore called Betz's texts "offensive, inappropriate, and unbecoming of a member of Council to a resident."
"Members of our community should know it is their right to address council, criticize the actions of its elected officials and hold us accountable without fear of reprisal or intimidation," he added.
A spokeswoman for Mayor Andy Schor said he "does not have a statement" on the situation.