Riverview councilman censured, removed from committees after alleged remarks

James David Dickson
The Detroit News

Riverview — David Robbins, elected in November to the Riverview City Council, was removed from his committee assignments and censured Tuesday by his six colleagues in a unanimous vote for making racially insensitive remarks. 

The six council members also called for Robbins to resign because of his alleged conduct outside a restaurant in the early hours of Nov. 4, two days after he was elected.

The council censured Robbins and "calls upon him to tender his resignation as a member of the city council immediately in the best interests of the city of Riverview," according to the council resolution.

Robbins, 34, was charged criminally in a car crash weeks later after the Nov. 4 incident and bound over for trial on Jan. 6. Earlier Thursday, he was scheduled for an arraignment on information before Wayne Circuit Court Judge James Chylinski.

More:Riverview councilman charged in alleged drunken driving crash

In that case, Robbins faces four felony charges: operating while intoxicated, operating while impaired, reckless driving and failure to report an accident to fixtures. 

David Robbins

Robbins did not respond Thursday to a request for comment. 

The charges were issued and publicized in mid-November, but the council acted two months later with a censure. 

The News-Herald reports that Robbins's alleged statements to police after the crash are what sparked the controversy.

According to the Riverview police report, obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request, officers arrived at Zorba's Coney Island about 1:45 a.m. "for a report of disorderly persons in the parking lot."

A Riverview lieutenant arrived to find two White men and a Black man arguing. Then the Black man and one of the White men charged at each other. 

Robbins told police the man had attacked him with a knife. When police searched the man, "a folded knife fell from his pants," the report said.

Police determined the knife was legal and later gave it back to the man.

The News-Herald, citing policy body camera footage, reported that Robbins referred to the other man as “some random-ass Black dude, who probably had no (expletive) business being in our city in the (expletive) first place, did what he did."

Robbins allegedly later said "this riff-raff comes into our city. ... They have no business being here."

In the censure resolution, the council "calls on Councilmember David Robbins to retract his racially biased statements and publicly apologize to the people of the city of Riverview for bringing upon them the shame and humiliation which he alone should bear." It adds that "his total disregard for honesty, integrity, and unity should not be condoned."

Robbins was removed from the ad hoc public safety committee, the school liaison position, the Veterans Memorial Committee and the Wyandotte/Riverview Reciprocal Agreement Committee.

"I'm not aware how common censure is in other communities, but I don't believe it has ever been used in the 63 years Riverview has been a city," Riverview Mayor Andrew Swift wrote in an email to The Detroit News. "This should show you the negativity he has brought to the city he says he 'just wants to help.'"

"Why censure?" Swift wrote. "That is the only option available to the city council.  Mr. Robbins was elected by the voters and short of him resigning or me requesting the governor to remove him, the only other option is a recall election.  And a recall is not available until he has been in office one year."  

Swift added that Riverview's city charter allows a council member to be removed if convicted of a felony carrying a sentence of one year plus one day or more.

City Councilman Chuck Norton said he viewed the resolution as a way to move on from the controversy. 

"We've got a lot of work to do," Norton said, including the debate on whether the city's revenue-generating landfill should be expanded. 

jdickson@detroitnews.com