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Detroit

BLM Leader In Court To Challenge Racist And Retaliatory Charges

Tristan Taylor, a co-founder of Detroit Will Breathe (DWB) and a Left Voice member, is defending himself in court on Monday, May 23, against felony charges for protesting the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor in 2020. Taylor is one of the Shelby 5, a group of protestors facing felony charges for demanding that Robert Shellide, the Chief of Police in Shelby Township, Michigan, be fired for posting violently racist remarks about the mass protests. Several additional protestors were charged with misdemeanors. On Taylor’s court date, Monday May 23, Detroit Will Breathe, an organization which was born in the heat of the Black Lives Matter movement, is calling their supporters to mobilize in support of a motion to get the felony charge thrown out. 

Detroit Organizations Demand Justice Department Act On Police Misconduct

CPTA begins the memorandum by stating that: “The Coalition for Police Transparency and Accountability (CPTA) requests a federal investigation of a pattern of killings and excessive force by the Detroit Police Department (DPD) and an institutional culture within the department that promotes violence and racial discrimination within the Department and against members of the community. The mission of CPTA is to expose police misconduct in all its forms and thereby demand police transparency and accountability as well as garner community support for this effort. The Coalition was formed after the killing of Hakim Littleton in July 2020 by the Detroit Police Department officers.

Detroit’s Fiscal Budget: A Case Study In Corporate Domination

A recent debate over the fiscal budget for 2022-2023 for the City of Detroit revealed the political character of the current administration and City Council. The budget was approved for $2.4 billion in a municipality where a majority of the population are African American, working class and impoverished. There were efforts by grassroots community organizations to influence the entire budget process. The Moratorium NOW! Coalition (MNC) in a public letter urged the City Council to include a $1400 “booster” check to retired municipal employees impacted by the more than 8% rate of inflation in the United States. In addition, to the booster campaign for retirees, the MNC in another correspondence to the City Council, demanded that the budget presented by the white corporate-imposed Mayor Mike Duggan be rejected due to its lack of consideration for the 80% African American population in Detroit.

Foreclosures Moratorium Extended In Detroit And Wayne County

A Wayne County judge on March 29 granted a motion by Treasurer Eric R. Sabree extending the ban on owner-occupied homes being placed in jeopardy of seizure and public auction. This decision came in the aftermath of a campaign by the Moratorium NOW! Coalition (MNC) and other housing groups in the city of Detroit. A resolution was passed on March 29 by the Detroit City Council in favor of an extension after numerous people spoke out at the municipal legislative meeting calling on people to participate in the demonstration the following day at the Wayne County Treasurer’s Office in the Greektown district of Downtown. Although this resolution was passed without opposition, the MNC is calling for a permanent solution to the housing crisis in Detroit and throughout the county.

Tens Of Thousands Threatened With Property Tax Foreclosures In Detroit

March 31 has been designated as the deadline for Wayne County residents to pay back property taxes from 2019 and before despite the failure of the relevant authorities to provide adequate assistance to working and impoverished households. For the last two years, Wayne County Treasurer Eric Sabree has not foreclosed on properties due to the COVID-19 pandemic which has had a disproportionate impact on area residents, particularly African Americans who make up approximately 80 percent of the Detroit population. This issue is not a new one in Detroit and Wayne County. Since 2005, there have been tens of thousands of homes and small businesses seized due in part to over assessments which grew out of the mortgage crisis during the first decade of the century.

Profitable Utility Company Shut Off Electricity To Homes During Pandemic

During the early stages of the pandemic, Michigan’s largest power company leaned in to a chance to show its charitable side, helping buy laptops for Detroit’s public school children and publicizing that it would not disconnect the gas and electric service of people who could not pay their bills. DTE Energy said it was on “high alert to help those customers whose lives are being disrupted.” But the relief from the threat of a shut-off ended quickly for DTE’s customers, who pay some of the highest electricity rates in the country. DTE’s moratorium on disconnections lasted just over three months. An analysis by ProPublica and Outlier Media shows the extent to which one of the nation’s poorest cities and other communities across Southeast Michigan have been impacted by electric service disconnections since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

‘We Stand With Portland!’: Statement Of Detroit Will Breathe

The killing and shooting of protestors in Portland, Oregon, demanding justice for Amir Locke and Patrick Kimmons, Black men murdered by police, is an outrage that must be condemned. The murder of June Knightly and the shooting of four other women supporting the protest is a byproduct of the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse, through which the capitalist state gave a green light to further right-wing vigilantism. The killer, Ben Smith, a known fascist sympathizer, was only named by the Portland Police Bureau after being identified by community members and activists on social media. Our greatest enemy is still the state and its violent agents, the police, who seek to use every opportunity to attack us or let us be attacked by right-wing vigilantes.

We Need A Peoples’ Movement And Not The World Economic Forum

Detroit, which remains a major industrial center in the sectors of automotive and other sources of production and services, is a focal point for the economic and social transformations of urban areas in the United States and internationally. Since the 19th century, the city has been a location for various forms of manufacturing, mining and shipping. Initially there was the strategic location linked to the Great Lakes and rivers which flow into them. The mining of copper during the mid-to-late 19th century which fueled migration eventually gave way to steam engine manufacturing for shipping and the timber trade. By the early decades of the 20th century, the first assembly line within auto production was established by Henry Ford. The production of millions of automobiles within a matter of years, created the demand for jobs and the consequent suppression and division of labor.

Black Radical Internationalist Traditions

In the 1950’s and 1960’s, it became a juxtaposition of highly educated workers for the most advanced productive forces on the planet, but developed within the unresolved, deeply violent, four hundred year-long colonial and racist architecture of the US. It was externally influenced by the period of the explosion of national liberation socialism that began with the Chinese revolution and was punctuated by the defeat of the US empire by the Korean and Chinese revolutions and at great costs to their peoples. The 1950s were capped off by the historic 1959 victory in Cuba, whose significance reverberates to this day in all of our lives. Many of the most significant and radical intellectual and revolutionary formations of the US were born between the years 1959 to 1967.

Detroit Voters OK Launching Reparations Commission

Detroit voters favored launching a reparations commission Tuesday, and a proposal to decriminalize psychedelic plants passed by a wide margin. Another, Proposal S, failed with 53.9% voting no to amending a section of the city charter to allow voters to push ordinances that include appropriating money. More than 80%  of voters said yes to Proposal R, which calls for the launching of a reparations commission, while 61% of voters said yes to decriminalizing psychedelic plants. Another ballot proposal to amend the city charter to allow for citizen-driven ballot initiatives tied to city spending, Proposal S found no support among nearly 54% of voters, while 46% voted yes. Proposal R asked whether Michigan’s largest city should form a committee to consider reparations for residents, 77% of whom are Black.

World Economic Forum Targets Detroit

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has announced plans to open a “Global Center for Urban Transformation” in Detroit in October 2021. The WEF is an international non-governmental organization (NGO) that describes itself as aiming to improve “the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic, and other leaders of society to shape global, regional, and industry agendas.” It has been in existence since 1971 and is based in Switzerland. This won’t be the first time the capitalist corporate, banking and political power-brokers have focused on the Motor City to promote their plans to strengthen their exploitative system on the backs of poor and working people. The Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice (MECAWI) and the Moratorium Now Coalition played a pivotal role in all of these earlier actions and are part of a growing coalition to once again confront them.

Environmental Racism And Detroit

Oftentimes, racism and environmentalism are thought of as separate issues. Since the Black Lives Matter uprising of last summer, however, there has been a growing awareness of the scope of racism and its existence in every facet of society. The legacy of racism, dating back to the enslavement of Black people in this country, is woven into the fabric of American society. It has existed in many forms on structural and personal levels, including racist real estate practices such as redlining and restrictive covenants, as well as discriminatory employment practices. Not to mention how Black folks are criminalized, brutalized, exploited, and killed by police and the prison industrial system. The list goes on, and it also includes being more vulnerable to environmental pollution.

Detroit Teachers Vote Overwhelmingly To Authorize Safety Strike

During an emergency special meeting Wednesday, members of the Detroit Federation of Teachers (DFT) voted to authorize a potential safety strike aimed at pressing the Detroit Public Schools Community District to implement basic science-based safety protocols before schools reopen during the continuing coronavirus pandemic.  The vote authorizes the DFT executive board to call a safety strike if the union and the school district do not reach an agreement. Members voted 91 percent in favor of authorizing a safety strike. 

Amid Calls To Defund Police, Detroit Leaders Weigh In On Alternatives

In the wake of Floyd’s death, protests have mobilized in several states, and locally in Detroit, where protesters have marched regularly since late May. While most protests have mostly been peaceful, there have been instances of violence, including during the early days of the protests when demonstrators were met with tear gas, shields, and handcuffs, with scores arrested after being out past curfew and reports of some protesters hurling objects at police; a police car driving through a crowd of protesters; and the fatal shooting of Hakim Littleton by police near Six Mile and San Juan. Police footage shows Littleton being shot after firing at officers who were arresting a man on a separate matter, sparking a protest that resulted in eight arrests.

Detroit Students Sued For Literacy And Won

The hard-fought, four-year Gary B. literacy case, in which seven Black students in Detroit sued the state of Michigan in 2016 to improve the school system and literacy access, was settled on May 14 in favor of the students, Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s office announced. In the complaint, students shared a laundry list of educational and literacy issues in the public schools, such as predominantly having books with pictures instead of words in primary school when students are first taught to read.  The landmark settlement means that $94.4 million will support literacy-related programs and initiatives throughout the Detroit Public School Community District (DPSCD), for which Whitmer will propose legislation during her first term and the seven students will share a $280,000 payout.
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