Arrests In Detroit Today Over Water Shut-Offs

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Here is what Steve Neavling of the Motorcity Muckraker reports:

About 10 protesters arrested at rally today over Detroit water shutoffs.

Police arrested about 10 protesters this morning after opponents of massive water shutoffs in Detroit locked hands and blocked the entrance to a company hired to turn off the utilities of tens of thousands of delinquent residents.

Police began making the arrests as the human blockade stopped a red pickup truck from entering the Homrich Inc. facility on East Grand Boulevard. The city is paying the company $5.6 million to handle shutoffs for two years.

Among those arrested were pastors and seniors, who were placed in the backs of police cars and hauled off. Some were dragged by police for refusing to move.

Protesters said tens of thousands of residents are delinquent on their water bills because they can’t afford them. Water is a human right, they said.

The city said the water system is hemorrhaging money and delaying much-needed repairs because of nonpaying residents.

And here is a statement from the Council of Canadians:

Council of Canadians condemns arrests of Detroiter protesting water cut-offs.

Ottawa – The Council of Canadians condemns the unwarranted arrests of Detroit residents who protested water cut-offs on the morning of July 10th. The residents blocked the entrance to Homrich Wrecking Inc., the company contracted to shut-off residential water service.

“We are shocked to hear that residents acting to make sure their neighbours have drinking water were arrested this morning. We stand in solidarity with the Detroit residents asserting one of their most basic human rights,” says Maude Barlow, national chairperson for the Council of Canadians. “In a region that holds 20% of the world’s freshwater, the water cut-offs are a source of growing international outrage.We’re urging President Obama to step in and stop the cut-offs.”

Last month, Caterina de Albuquerque, the Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation, confirmed that people should not be cut off from their water and sanitation services because they cannot afford to pay their bill

In March 2014, the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department announced it would begin shutting off water ser­vice for 1,500 to 3,000 customers every week if their water bills were not paid.

The Windsor-Essex chapter of the Council of Canadians is organizing a solidarity action on July 24 by bringing 1000 litres of water to Detroit residents to draw attention to the blatant violation of the human right to water and sanitation.

Photos by Occupy Detroit:

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  • doumor_99

    It is funny that they news is showing the support from the “white” neighbors and yet the people that were on the first night that were delinquent were predominately black. I saw most of them had cell phones, if you can afford a cell bill you can afford your water bill. Do they really expect the other taxpayers to pick up their tab? Treating Sewage and water is not a fundamental right, if they want their free water go to the lake and get it. That is the free water on this planet. Pay your own damn bills why should I have to fork over what little money I have to pay yours.

  • DoubleCheck

    Imprison Kevin Orr and Rick Snyder without water until both resign.

  • kevinzeese

    Strange question. These are Detroitroit residents. This is a homegrown movement, for good reasons! Detroit has a long history of social justice and community activism. Good to see people getting more militant about these violations of their human rights.

  • Linda

    I am always intrigued by people who want to argue that denying poor people basic human rights is okay if they have a cell phone. I hear it all the time here when people want to blame people who are homeless for being homeless. Well guess what, an apartment is more expensive than a cell phone. Guess what, if you want any hope of finding employment you must have a phone and internet access, at least here in WI most applications are on line, most employer want an email address, cell phones make that possible. Fewer and fewer people have landlines, cell phones are their way to communicate with family, to communicate with schools, with emergency services, etc…
    As a Christian I am always troubled by policy makers who profess to be Christian are so eager to further oppress the poor by passing and implementing policies that push them further into poverty. Jesus was pretty explicit about how we are to treat one another, especially the poor and vulnerable. We are talking about adults and children and come on, lake water? Really? in the US?
    The US has a history of systemic racism, let’s not pretend that disparities don’t still exist and that racism is no longer an issue. Studies in Milwaukee found that a white male with a criminal history is more likely to get a job than a similarly qualified black male with no criminal history. Let’s not forget about the Jim Crow laws and let’s not pretend that centuries of denying people their rights, of terrorizing them and denying them fair wages hasn’t impacted the ability of many black families to pull themselves out of poverty. My grandparents were rich, they were low income whites but they were able to buy a house because policies favored whites, they were able to pass that home and its accumulated wealth to their heirs, it all has an impact. So are the families in Detroit most impacted by these policies black? Quite likely, but let’s be honest and look at why we have such huge disparities in income, education, and employment – the US was invaded by white Europeans who systematically slaughtered indigenous peoples, brought in slaves and created a country built for the benefit of white people.
    What is happening in Detroit is morally bankrupt and just evil. What is happening in San Francisco as a development company evicts a 98 year old woman from the apartment she has lived in for 50 years because they want to make even more money, is morally bankrupt.
    If doumor99 has little money, I doubt it is the fault of the poor who have no real power in this country, it is likely the effects of the wealthy who can purchase and pay for elected officials to pass policies that continue to create a widening income gap between rich and poor while adding to the ranks of the poor.