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Detroit CFO resigns after accusations of racism

By Joseph Lichterman

DETROIT (Reuters) - Detroit Chief Financial Officer Jim Bonsall resigned on Tuesday after allegations arose last week that he made racist remarks during a meeting and demeaned a co-worker.

Bonsall, who is white, met with Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr on Tuesday afternoon to tender his resignation, according to Orr's spokesman Bill Nowling.

Bonsall had been suspended with pay pending an internal investigation into his conduct, Nowling said.

In a statement issued last week, Bonsall said: "I apologize and am sorry for having offended coworkers over comments I made during a recent meeting. Regardless of the outcome of the internal investigation or whether I keep my job as a result of it, it was never my intention to offend anyone."

The allegations came to light after City Treasurer Cheryl Johnson sent a letter to Orr, Mayor Dave Bing and other city officials outlining Bonsall's alleged behavior, according to Nowling.

In a meeting, Bonsall asked if he could "shoot somebody in a hoodie" during Angels' Night, when volunteers patrol neighborhoods throughout the city to prevent arson in the days leading up to Halloween, local media in Detroit reported.

Bonsall's comment appeared to allude to Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black Florida teenager who was shot and killed last year. Detroit's population is about 83 percent black.

Johnson, who is black, wrote in her letter that Bonsall "has demonstrated a pattern of behavior that has created a hostile work environment," adding that most of his actions were directed at minority women, local media reported.

Orr hired Bonsall in July. Johnson was previously the city's finance director, but earlier this month Bonsall named her treasurer, a move she considered a demotion, according to media reports.

Orr said in a statement that his office will conduct the search for a new CFO.

(Reporting by Joseph Lichterman; Editing by Ken Wills)

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