Those right-wingers keep screeching about “tyranny” when kept from bullying gays, women, non-Christians, and people of color, but remain strangely quiet about the actual tyranny unfolding in Detroit, Michigan.
38.1 percent of Detroit’s residents live below the poverty line, according to 2008-2012 U.S. Census data, yet Michigan Live reports the city approved a whopping 8.7 percent rate hike for water in June. Now, the chickens are coming home to roost.
150,000 of the city’s residents have fallen behind in their water bills, and the city is letting the Detroit Water and Sewage Department (DWSD) shut off their water — even though many of these folks are already on payment plans.
Community activist Russ Bellant told the Michigan Citizen:
“The families I’ve talked to in my neighborhood and others around the city are confused about why they’re being hit (in this way). Some knew they were behind, but thought they’d have time to pay it.”
Of course, Detroit’s desperate residents aren’t taking these water shut-offs lying down. They’re taking to the streets. On July 11th, Solidarity U.S. posted a photo of a man being arrested at one of the many ongoing protests. A total of 10 were arrested that morning.
DETROIT: 10 arrested this morning protesting water shut-offs to residents for as little as $150 past due while corporations slide on past due amounts up to $420,000. Activists told stories of accounts with no past due amounts erroneously shut-off without notice, and fact that child protective services can take kids from homes with no water. Contractors are targeting poorest outer ring neighborhoods first. Any updates welcome. Educate yourselves in the facts of this conflict and pick a side. Photo by Mark Tucker.
On July 13th, Solidarity posted a photo from another protest with the following update:
The struggle against water shut-offs in Detroit, Michigan is intensifying. Detroit is a Black-majority, working class city under relentless attack by the banks, developers, and corporations. Water is a human right! Stand and fight! Photograph by Frank Hammer.
One commenter could not resist pointing out the irony of the message on a billboard that appears in the background:
I’m noticing the irony in the diet Coke sign in the background that says “Be Ambitious Not Thirsty” and wondering it that was on purpose~!!
Meanwhile, National Nurses United staged a protest today, July 18th, that drew a large crowd.
The march in Detroit is getting ready to step off led by NURSEPOWER! Turn the water on! Tax Wall Street to meet human needs! #detroitwater
Why is this happening? In March 2013, GOP Governor Rick Snyder and his evil financial panel declared economically-stricken, recession-wracked Detroit a “financial emergency,” and took control of the city. Snyder then appointed Kevyn Orr as the emergency manager, who immediately imposed draconian austerity measures on the city’s impoverished, mostly black residents.
Meanwhile, some of the city’s wealthy corporate customers have also fallen behind but are getting off Scot free. Solidarity U.S. reports
Some of these delinquent accounts, though, have been untouched–like the Palmer Park Golf Club ($200,000 owed), Joe Louis Arena (which hosts the Red Wings; $80,000 owed), and Ford Field ($55,000 owed).
DWSD claims they need to charge higher rates to repair the city’s aging water and sewer system, but that makes no sense. In 2013, Detroit passed a $1 billion infrastructure bond. Where did the money go? Solidarity U.S. says 537 million went to pay interest to the big banks.
Even though the City of Detroit raised $1 billion in bonds for infrastructure, $537 million of it was used for interest payments to JPMorgan Chase, UBS, and Morgan Stanley!
That’s right… Michigan’s GOP governor has taken over the city — through his evil minion emergency manager — and is privatizing the city’s water to help pay off the banks whose toxic mortgages and wrongful foreclosures pushed Detroit into bankruptcy in the first place.
So… what happens when your water gets shut off? You don’t get any notice, and it takes less than a minute. Here’s the video report from Click on Detroit.
h/t: Solidarity U.S.
Featured photo: by Mark Tucker via Solidarity U.S. on Facebook.