‘Real Detroiters Speak Out’ To World Conference Of Mayors


By Kris Balderas-Hamel for Workers World – The World Conference of Mayors is convening its 33rd anniversary conference in Detroit from Oct. 23 to Oct. 26. Was Detroit picked to host this event because of its dramatic population loss, record poverty and unemployment, mass home foreclosures and water shutoffs? Because of the racism and devastating austerity visited upon this majority African-American city? Not at all. Detroit was chosen for this international conference because of the alleged “exemplary leadership of Mayor Mike Duggan and his administration,” which “transformed Detroit into a city of extraordinary opportunities and possibilities,” according to wcmdetroit2017.com. The Moratorium Now Coalition says the city was picked to host the WCM’s International Trade and Investment Conference because of a development resurgence in which “public revenues generated through … taxation are being funneled to the capitalist corporations” and banks. Downtown Detroit has been gentrified. Sports arenas and commercial venues have proliferated at city taxpayers’ expense, while the neighborhoods and residents are forgotten and left to fend for themselves. Once the hub of the world’s automobile industry, with a population over 1.8 million, Detroit now has fewer than 673,000 residents. The population was decimated after two capitalist tsunamis flooded the city.

Report On Rasmea Odeh Sentencing Hearing


By Staff of Committee to Stop FBI Repression – On Thursday, August 17th, Judge Gershwin Drain again violated the rights of Palestinian-American icon Rasmea Odeh, this time by not allowing her to read her entire statement to the court. Close to 150 supporters joined Rasmea in Detroit for what was supposed to be a routine sentencing hearing. The defense, prosecution, and judge had already agreed to a plea agreement finalized in April, and Rasmea was looking forward to finally being able to tell her entire story, but Drain interrupted her three separate times, the last with a threat to jail her for contempt of court. Prior to Rasmea’s statement, her lead attorney, Michael Deutsch, chastised the prosecution for bringing the indictment in the first place. Although the Rasmea Defense Committee has insisted for almost four years that the immigration case brought against her in October of 2013 was nothing but a pretext to attack the Palestine support movement in the U.S., Drain tried to protect Israel and the U.S. government from Rasmea’s brutal description of their crimes against her, her family, and the Palestinian people as a whole.

Thousands Attend Free Health Care Event In Detroit

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By Staff of WSWS – Thousands of metro Detroit residents, seeking dental and optical care, are attending a free health clinic, which started Wednesday at the Cobo Hall convention center. Hundreds lined up outside before doors opened at 6 a.m. highlighting the medical crisis in the state, where an estimated 600,000 residents are uninsured and far more cannot afford high co-pays and deductibles. The three–day event is expected to attract more than 4,000 people. The Motor City Medical Mission (MCMM) was organized by California and Florida-based religious institutions—Freedom Clinic and United Hands—which have held similar events with volunteer medical professionals throughout the US and other countries. “The primary need is dental care,” Ann Burnett, executive director of the Motor City Medical Mission Project, told the World Socialist Web Site. “Those that come in are in many cases living with pain and can’t get treatment for things such as abscesses. We also have eye exams and can give them reading and prescription glasses. One gentleman came in for dental services and we were able to pick up early stages of cancer, and probably saved his life.

50th Anniversary Of Detroit Rebellion: Celebration But Still White Supremacy

vepar5 / Shutterstock

By Frank Joyce for AlterNet – The normal pattern in our culture is to manufacture amnesia about past unpleasantries such as slavery, Native American genocide, the Vietnam war, and other assaults against people of color. It is surprising, therefore, that those in power have invested considerable resources in high-profile attention to the 1967 eruption in Detroit that brought federal troops to the streets of the city. The Detroit Historical Museum, the Detroit Institute of Arts and other local institutions have been funded to do various reflections. Detroit media is involved, as well. Unless you are in Detroit, it’s difficult to grasp how consumed the city is with this anniversary. But it’s not just local. The Hollywood team of Kathryn Biegelow and Mark Boal, award-winners for hyper-violent movies like “The Hurt Locker” and “Zero Dark Thirty” will premier their latest film “Detroit” in the city on July 25. It will open nationwide August 4. It is based on the torture and massacre of three teenagers by Detroit police officers in the Algiers motel during the rebellion. Why is the establishment making such a big deal out of the anniversary? Most likely, because it thinks it’s important to settle some issues in their favor.

Nine Activists Put Their Bodies On The Line For Water In Detroit

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By Drew Philp for The Guardian – In 1964, while still in her early twenties, Marian Kramer sat at a lunch counter in Monroe, Louisiana, and was served a tuna fish sandwich and a glass of dishwater. A committed civil rights activist, Kramer would regularly participate in integrated lunch counter sit-ins, organize picket lines and register black people to vote. For this, both the Ku Klux Klan and the police were after her. The first time Kramer drove an automobile was because of the KKK, in fact. While being chased by the hate group, the original driver of the vehicle had lost her nerve and Kramer, never one to give up, took the wheel and drove to the house of a black farmer, where they were hidden. When the owner of a local store shot at a young black man, Kramer helped organize a picket line, a full-on boycott. For her trouble in facilitating the sea change of human rights for African Americans in the 20th century, the policethrew her into a recently emptied garbage truck, the walls dripping with the sludge from the trash of a nation. She was placed in jail and, alongside other leaders, spent eight days and nights in solitary confinement. She was charged with disorderly conduct. But that’s ancient history. Isn’t it? More than 50 years and the turn of a century later, Kramer, now 73, sat in a chintzy Detroit courtroom charged with the exact same offense. Her co-defendant, an ordained Methodist minister named Bill Wylie-Kellermann, sat next to her.

At Birthplace Of Auto Workers’ Sit-Down Strikes

Workers have twice voted no on Honeywell's proposals to eliminate cost-of-living increases and retiree health care, freeze pensions, curtail overtime pay, subcontract work, and void seniority rights. Photo: UAW

By Dianne Feeley for Labor Notes – Last week auto workers from Chicago and Detroit made a pilgrimage to the birthplace of auto workers’ sit-down strikes to lend solidarity to workers who’ve been locked out for eight months and counting. Honeywell locked out 320 aerospace workers with Auto Workers (UAW) Local 9 in South Bend, Indiana, on May 9 after they voted 270-30 to reject the company’s offer. Another 40 Honeywell workers with Local 1508 at in Green Island, New York, are also locked out. Honeywell was demanding the power to change health care premiums and deductibles unilaterally. The rejected proposal would also have eliminated cost-of-living increases and retiree health care…

Silent Tax Foreclosure Auction Is Detroit's Largest Missed Opportunity


By Michele Oberholtzer for Occupy – Back in July, the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit against Wayne County Treasurer Eric Sabree for foreclosing on owner-occupied homes in the area around Detroit. The lawsuit, which was anticipated for years, could dramatically affect the fate of thousands of families if it is successful. But even so, it will only impact about one-tenth of the properties headed for auction starting this Wednesday, Sept. 7, at 9 a.m. EST. The Wayne County Tax Foreclosure auction is seen nationwide as an opportunity to buy Detroit homes on the cheap.

Will Detroit Use Funds To Restore Water or Tear Down Homes?


By Sara Jerome for Takepart. Detroit, MI – Aurora Harris is familiar with the way people sound when they first lose water service. “I try not to let it affect me emotionally, but there are some days where it’s heartbreaking to listen to elderly people crying on the phone, begging for water,” said Harris, cofounder of the community group We the People of Detroit. In Detroit, water and sewer bills have doubled in the last decade for thousands of customers living in poverty, according to the advocacy coalition People’s Water Board. Rates continue to rise. In May, the city resumed its practice of shutting off the water of delinquent customers, and as of July 1, nearly 4,000 households were eligible for disconnection, according to Bryan Peckinpaugh, spokesman for the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department.

In A Broke And Crumbling City, This Woman Is Building An Urban Paradise

Shamayim “Shu” Harris plans to turn her entire block in Highland Park, Michigan into a sustainable community village with small businesses, youth programming and food production. Highland Park, located within the city of Detroit, has experienced extreme disinvestment, and many residents don’t have easy access to basic amenities.

By Kate Abbey-Lambertz for The Huffington Post – DETROIT — In a neighborhood that has lost its school, library, streetlights, many businesses and a huge chunk of its population, one woman is transforming her half-abandoned block into a community hub, where there are books to borrow, people playing in the park and lights on in the darkness. Shamayim “Shu” Harris lives in a house on Avalon Street in Highland Park, a small city surrounded by Detroit. Blighted and broke, Highland Park faces challenges similar to Detroit’s, but lacks the public attention and private investment that has boosted Detroit in recent years.

40% Of Detroit Will Be Deprived Of Life Sustaining Water


By Marsha Cole for Black Agenda Report – The United States has no moral authority to speak of “human rights” as an American “value” when it systematically deprives Detroit’s Black poor population of water. “The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department has begun shutting off water to 3,000 people a week, and could soon cut off access to drinkable water for 150,000 Detroit residents.” Meanwhile, the city has decided not to disconnect businesses – or even a corporate-owned graveyard.

Detroit Public Schools Shut With Teachers In ‘Sickout’ Protest Over Pay

A Zapatista mural in the town of San Pedro Polhó illustrates ideas about education. Photo by Dario Ribelo on Flickr

By Barbara Goldberg for Reuters – Detroit Public Schools closed nearly all of its 97 schools on Monday as hundreds of teachers called in sick to protest the cash-strapped city’s revelation that it will soon run out of money to pay employees. The shutdown due to “teacher sickouts” was announced on the website for Michigan’s largest public school system with 45,786 students, which has been under state control since 2009. Detroit Federation of Teachers Interim President Ivy Bailey said in a statement on Sunday that the district was “effectively locking our members out of the classrooms”

In Detroit, Fighting Hopelessness With A Climate Plan

The neighborhood around the Marathon heavy oil refinery in Detroit is Michigan's most polluted ZIP code. Environmental and climate justice activists said they couldn't wait for the city to come out of bankruptcy and launch its own climate action plan, so they have started their own. Credit: Wikimedia

By David J. Unger for Inside Climate News – DETROIT, Mich.—As major cities across the globe begin to take a leading role in the world’s response to climate change, one U.S. metropolis has a decidedly grassroots approach to preparing for a wetter, warmer world. In Detroit—a city that faces a myriad of pressing socioeconomic and environmental challenges—local residents are working on a plan to mitigate the long-term impacts of climate change. Unlike the climate action plans drafted by city governments in places like New York, Chicago and Boston, Detroit’s green roadmap is spearheaded by the Detroit Climate Action Collaborative

“Stop Oppressing Us”: Detroit Teachers Speak


By Eliza A. Webb for Truthout – A new investigation by the US Attorney’s Office has uncovered evidence of long-lasting corruption within the Detroit Public Schools (DPS) system and has charged 12 current and former Detroit principals with fabricating invoices, evading taxes and taking $1 million in bribes and kickbacks from the district’s vendors. This newly unearthed scandal is wholly unsurprising to the teachers of Detroit, who have seen corruption and injustice dominate the city’s education system since 1999, when state-appointed emergency managers were first given the power to override Detroit’s elected school board.

A Great National Sick-Out – It’s Past Time

AntiiAusterity Billboard in London. Photo by Michael K. Donnelly, flickr, cc

By Laura Flanders for the Laura Flanders Show. The teachers sent out pictures of something that’s had a hard time getting seen: the social cost of austerity.The teachers secured attention from at least one national candidate – Hillary Clinton who pointed out such conditions wouldn’t be tolerated in more affluent places. Majority Republicans in Michigan’s Legislature threatened new laws to make it easier to crack down on protesting workers. We’ll see what happens. Meanwhile, it’s worth reviewing how the Detroit schools got into such a fix. The system wasn’t always broke. According to analysis by the Citizens Research Council, a Michigan based policy group, the Detroit schools were enjoying a surplus in the 1990s. Now, 41 cents of every dollar appropriated for students is being spent on servicing city debt.

Newsletter: Justice Takes A Lifetime

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By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers for Popular Resistance. The #BlackLivesMatter movement continues to grow its power and have notable victories, but 600 hundred years of racial oppression, older than the nation itself, will not be rooted out quickly. The movement had a series of electoral and other victories this week. These victories for #BLM and their supporters are notable but problems still persist and the movement must continue to grow and get stronger. There are no quick fixes to a country that is crippled by its history of racism. We must all recognize that the work we are doing for racial, economic and environmental justice requires us to be persistent and uncompromising. achieve the transformational justice we seek will last our lifetimes – a marathon and not a sprint.