By Bill Quigley for Popular Resistance. A jury trial is underway in Detroit for human rights activists arrested for blocking trucks which were going to cutoff water to low-income families. On July 18, 2014, dozens of people successfully blocked the trucks of the Homrich Inc., a private wrecking company that the City of Detroit contracts with to carry out water shutoffs. The trucks were leaving to cutoff water for Detroiters who were more than $150 past due on payments. After an eight hour blockade nine people were arrested. Those on trial said civil disobedience was their only option to address the grave public health crisis of mass water shutoffs, since the City of Detroit was under emergency management, which effectively strips all elected officials of decision-making power. One of the people on trial is Bill Wylie-Kellermann, pastor of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Detroit. He told The Detroit News “It was, at the time, the last vestige of democracy in the city.” Defendant Marian Kramer of the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization and Highland Park Human Right Coalition highlighted what she sees as the irony of the City criminally charging and prosecuting defendants for nonviolent defense of Detroiters’ right to water.
By Rob Wile at Fusion. The City of Detroit began shutting off water access to residents behind on payments Tuesday, with thousands at risk of losing access. According to the Detroit Free Press, 64,769 delinquent residential customers owe the city’s water department a combined $48.9 million. The city started sending out shut-off warnings May 11. According to theFree Press, Mayor Mike Duggan is proceeding with the shutoff orders over the wishes of city council members, who voted on May 12 to freeze the shutoff until an assistance plan to help affected residents was enacted. Last year, the United Nations warned the city that the shutoffs were violations of residents’ human rights, and called on the city to stop them and reconnect their houses. “None of those things happened,” Kauchek said. Detroit residents are not the only ones facing water shut-offs: In March, Baltimore residents began receiving turn-off notices; according to theBaltimore Sun, 25,000 water customers are delinquent.
Atpeace Makita, a single mother of five children who turned to activism after her water was shut off by the Detroit Water and Sewage Department, talks with Dennis Trainor, Jr. about the Detroit Water Brigade and what it is like to living during the current push for the privatization of the water supply. Only the Polar Ice Caps contain more fresh water that The Great Lakes. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, The Great Lakes are the largest surface fresh water system on the Earth, providing 84% of North America's surface fresh water and 21% of the world’s supply.