Detroit, Events — July 17, 2014 at 8:46 am

Activists to rally in Detroit on Friday to protest water shutoffs, call for accountability for Wall Street banks


As Netroots Nation lands in Detroit, it does so during an unprecedented time in our country’s history. In an attempt to get over 90,000 water customers to pay upwards of $90 million in unpaid water bills. Over ten thousand Detroit residents have already had their water source eliminated in this draconian effort. Meanwhile, major businesses still have water flowing despite their own massive unpaid bills:

A local news investigation revealed that Joe Louis Arena, home of the Detroit Red Wings, owed $82,255 as of April. Ford Field, where the Detroit Lions play, owed more than $55,000. City-owned golf courses owed more than $400,000. As of July 2, none had paid.

While some off those not paying their bills are simply scamming the system, many of the residents having their water cut off simply cannot afford to pay the bills. It’s worth noting that, on average, water costs twice as much in Detroit as it does in other metropolitan cities despite sitting on the shore of the largest fresh water source in the country.

Tomorrow, Friday, July 18th, on the one-year anniversary of Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr taking Detroit into bankruptcy, a broad coalition of progressive groups are staging a march/rally in downtown Detroit to protest the shutoffs and to hold Wall Street banks accountable. From Moratorium NOW!:

We call on activists everywhere to come to Detroit on Friday, July 18 for a rally and march to fight the dictatorship of Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, appointed by millionaire Republican Governor Rick Synder, and backed by Wall Street bankers and the 1%.

Taking place during the national Netroots Nation 2014 conference, several thousand people will converge in downtown Detroit to demand an immediate stop to residential water shutoffs and and an immediate restoration of water service. Demonstrators will demand that that the be no cuts to pensions and a restoration of retiree health benefits.

Under a state-imposed bankruptcy, the City of Detroit workers face severe cuts to their pensions and tens of thousands of people face water shutoffs.

The banks who have destroyed Detroit’s neighborhoods through racist predatory subprime mortgages and saddled the City of Detroit with fraudulent subprime financing, continue to loot the people of Detroit.

Detroiters have lost their democratic rights – “elected” officials serve at the pleasure of the unelected Emergency Manager, and may be fired at any time.

From the loss of the auto plant jobs, loss of people from home foreclosures, attack on pensions, high insurance, replacing public schools with charter schools/Education Achievement Authority (EAA), water shut-offs, to privatization and the state helping corporations take over city assets and services such as Belle Isle, the largest urban park in the U.S., garbage department, workforce development, human services, health dept., Detroit Institute of Arts, with selling the water dept. on the horizon! Banks, billionaires and corporations made this bankruptcy up to rob the people of Detroit blind and kill democracy.

To Detroiters, we say, ”It’s time to take a stand, stand up and fight for yourselves, your children, your grandchildren, your city!”

To people everywhere, we say, “Stand with the people of Detroit. Your city, your services, and your pensions will be targetted next”

Let’s come together to stop the takeover of Detroit, we are not going to take this anymore! United we can stop the takeover of our Detroit! Make the banks pay!

Here’s more from National Nurses United, one of the groups spearheading the event:

Support is growing from labor, community, clergy, and environmental activists, along with those attending the national Netroots Nation convention in Detroit this week for a march and rally Friday July 18 to call for an immediate moratorium on the water shutoffs.

National Nurses United, the lead sponsor of the event, and the dozens of groups and activists organizations supporting the action, call the shutoff a public health emergency and a major violation of human rights. NNU is the largest U.S. organization of nurses.

The event will also call for a tax on Wall Street speculation which could raise hundreds of billions of dollars for communities like Detroit which have been pummeled by recession, unemployment, and other pain directly linked to the Wall Street meltdown and plunder of major urban areas. The Robin Hood tax on Wall Street trading, is embodied in HR 1579, sponsored by Rep. Keith Ellison, to rebuild Detroit and the rest of America.

Rally supporters charge that Gov. Rick Snyder and his handpicked emergency manager officials are enforcing the water shutoffs to promote the privatization of the public water department, the latest gift, they say, to Wall Street financial interests who have bankrupted the city.

Other endorsers of the march and rally include: Utility Workers Union of America, Friends of the Earth U.S., AFSCME Council 25, CWA Local 400, National Action Network-Michigan, UAW Local 600, Detroit Eviction Defense, Detroiters Resisting Emergency, National People’s Action, Health GAP (Global Action Project), East Michigan Environmental Action Council, Color of Change, Franciscan Action Network, Detroit Water Brigade, Detroit Public Schools Education Task Force, Michigan Election Reform Alliance, Student Global AIDS Campaign, Coalition of Labor Union Women, Detroit Active and Retired Employees, and many other groups.

“Cutting off water to community residents is a disgraceful attack on the basic human right of access to safe, clean water,” said NNU Co-President Jean Ross, RN. “Nurses know the critical link between access to water and public health. Lack of water, like unsafe sanitation, is a major health disaster that can lead to disease outbreaks and pandemics. The city must end this shutoff now.”

Here’s the schedule:

12:30 p.m. – Assemble outside COBO Hall on the southwest corner of Washington Blvd & W. Congress
1:00 p.m. – March Begins
1:45 p.m. – Rally at Hart Plaza

You can keep up with the latest information on the march/rally at their Facebook event page. For more information on this complicated situation, here are some excellent sources:

I also encourage you to sign the Daily Kos petition calling on the Obama administration to declare a public health emergency in Detroit. Click HERE to sign the petition.

[Photo credit: Anne C. Savage, special to Eclectablog]