Jul 292014
 

Detroit Freedom Friday 12

Friday August 1, 2014

4:00 pm at the DWSD downtown office, 735 Randolph, Detroit
Gather at the Bates Street entrance, around the corner

detroit_0731

Permanent Moratorium on Water Shutoffs!

Restore Water Service Now!

Amnesty for those accused of turning on water!

Hands off the Pensions!

Make the Banks Pay!

Continue reading »

Jul 152014
 

U.S. Bankruptcy Court, In re: City of Detroit, Debtor Objection to “Plan of Adjustment”

Testimony by Kristen A. Hamel, Detroit resident and homeowner

July 15, 2014

click here for print version (pdf)

In recent weeks, Detroiters have been experiencing the inhuman austerity agenda of Gov. Rick Snyder and Emergency Dictator Kevyn Orr. Thousands of families have had their water cut off, and tens of thousands more face imminent shutoffs if a mere $150 is owed.

The situation is so outrageous that a United Nations commission has condemned Detroit’s water shutoffs as a violation of international human rights. Freedom Friday marches starting at the water department building have been going on for weeks because no one should have to face forced deprivation of water, the most basic necessity of life and health.

The Detroit Free Press reported Orr’s office calling the water shutoffs “a necessary part of Detroit’s restructuring.” The real agenda is to make the water department more attractive for privatization to union busters like Veolia Corp., known worldwide for its crimes against humanity, especially against the Palestinian people.

While the poorest Detroiters have their water cut off for owing $150, JPMorgan Chase, UBS, Loop Financial and Morgan Stanley were paid $537 million in termination fees on interest rate swaps out of $1 billion in bonds issued from 2010 to 2013, bonds that were earmarked to fund repairs of the water infrastructure system, not line the pockets of these four banks.

Orr, while cutting off water to the poor and raising water rates, has not taken one step to recover this $537 million giveaway to the banks. Orr and Buckfire were also ready to hand over hundreds of millions to Bank of America and UBS on the interest rate swaps associated with the pension obligation certificates. Because of community outcry against these swindles, they were forced by this court on two occasions to go back to the negotiating table.

As you have stated on prior occasions, Judge Rhodes, the buck stops with you in these bankruptcy proceedings. Continue reading »

 July 15, 2014  Posted by at 10:13 pm Uncategorized No Responses »
Jul 032014
 

Appeal to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

ushrn_web_logoA Call for Assistance in the Efforts to Halt Racism, Racial Discrimination and Acts of Genocide Directed Towards the People of the City of Detroit in the United States of America

The following draft appeal was submitted and accepted by the United States Human Rights Network (USHRN) to be included in their report related to the gross human rights violations being committed inside the country. This appeal is an important contribution to the annual submission by the USHRN that is designed to point out the violations by the U.S. government of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD). The appeal requests the direct intervention by relevant UN agencies including, but not limited to, the High Commissioner for Human Rights based in Geneva, Switzerland.

This appeal is directed towards the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and all other agencies of this international body concerned with the prevention and halting of institutional racism, racial discrimination and genocide. Two organizations which have played a leading role in opposition to the imposition of austerity, the racist denial of the right to vote and due process under the law in defense against the predatory actions of multi-national corporations and international financial institutions in the City of Detroit, the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice (MECAWI), founded in 2002 and the Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures, Evictions and Utility Shut-offs, founded in 2008, are making this appeal to the United Nations due to the failure of the local, state and federal governmental structures to uphold the fundamental civil and human rights of the majority African American population of Detroit, but not limited to this predominant segment of the people, and encompassing all those who are impacted by the current policies enacted by a system of emergency management, forced bankruptcy and restructuring of the City of Detroit.

We are charging that deliberate actions by the State of Michigan through its Governor Rick Snyder and majority right-wing legislative bodies are calculated and well-planned to foster the disempowerment of the African American people. This program is specifically designed to destroy the political and social gains made by the African American people, but also severely impacts negatively the labor movement, social justice organizations and all other historically affected groups facing national discrimination and class oppression in the United States.

The Nullification of the Elections of November 2012

Continue reading »

Jul 282014
 
Baxter Jones after his arrest on July 18, protesting water shutoffs.

Baxter Jones after his arrest on July 18, protesting water shutoffs.

Baxter Jones was arrested on July 18, 2014, while protesting the large-scale, inhumane water shutoffs occurring in Detroit. Baxter and eight other people were detained for blocking the trucks owned by Homrich Demolition, the company hired by Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr to conduct a water shutoff Blitzkrieg against tens of thousands of families in Detroit.

Baxter, a tireless fighter for social justice, uses a wheelchair because of spinal cord and brain injuries sustained in an automobile accident. He was placed in the van shown in the above picture and transported to jail.  His wheelchair was not tied down and the van did not have a seat belt for him to use! In addition, the van’s  low ceiling forced Baxter to keep his neck in a bent position, resulting in injury requiring a neck brace.

Please sign this petition for Baxter: Stop mistreatment of Baxter Jones and all people with disabilities! Stop the Detroit water shutoffs!

Jul 242014
 

The bills sent out to homeowners, particularly those with old meters, are likely to be very innaccurate.  In fact, it appears that the DWSD even manufactures water usage numbers out of thin air.  Recently, a Detroit family was in a billing dispute with DWSD over outlandish charges, and had their water shutoff.

Below are copies of two versions of a bill that she received from DWSD for the period 4/27/14 to 5/27/14.  The first bill was received in the mail.  A family member went to the payment center to pay the bill and  requested a copy of the bill. The second bill, below, is the copy received at the DWSD payment center for the same billing period.

In the first bill, the familiy is billed for 13, 464 gallons or 1800 cf of water.  In the second bill, the family is billed for 8,228 gallons or 1100 cf of water for the same billing period.

Remember, this family had their water cutoff!

Bill sent to the home.

Bill sent to the home.
4-27-2014 to 5-27-2014

Bill picked up at DWSD payment center

Bill picked up at DWSD payment center
4-27-2014 to 5-27-2014

Jul 232014
 

Detroit Freedom Friday 11

Friday July 25, 2014

4:00 pm at the DWSD downtown office, 735 Randolph, Detroit
Gather at the Bates Street entrance, around the corner

Permanent Moratorium on Water Shutoffs! Restore Water Service Now!

Hands off the Pensions!

Make the Banks Pay!

July18 water demo

Jul 202014
 

Jones Day and the DWSD will be back in Bankruptcy Court on Monday to attempt once again to explain to Judge Rhodes the water department’s policy to help Detroitters who are unable to pay their  water bills. The hearing starts at 10 AM.

Pack Bankruptcy Court

Monday, July 21, 9:30 AM

231 W. Lafayette, Detroit

From City of Detroit Retiree Cecily McClellan:

The issues related to DWSD and the pension are tie-barred. This is due to the 500,000 million given to the banks instead of maintenance of the water system infrastructure, which impacts the stability of DWSD.  DWSD pays over 40 % into the pension system and has been identified as the major contributor to GRS pension fund in the 4th plan of adjustment.  The stability of DWSD will affect all pensions, particularly future pensions.  As Yvonne often states current pensions are not under funded (see pensions annual report and CARF- prior to the Dictator Orr’s manipulation of numbers) funds are there for current retirees. National media will be there in numbers, they expect the actual results to the vote to be published. Don’t be surprised or discouraged an immediate appeal is anticipated. See you at federal court and pass the word.

From City of Detroit Retiree Belinda Myers-Florence:

We need to be there in numbers.in front of the media to tell about the injustices being done to us.  1. The loss of our medical insurance.   Which recently, by the way in Illinois, was upheld as a retirement benefit.  2 The loss of our cost of living for the future.  3. The 4.5% reduction in our pension checks.  4.  The claw back of hundreds of thousands of dollars with 6.75 % interest rate attached to it.  It is past time to speak up against these unconscionable acts aimed at retirees.  No lights, no water for citizens what in the heck is next? They are attempting to steamroll civil servants to agree to contracts that are not fair nor in their best interest. We have got to rise and force this train to a screeching halt.

Jul 182014
 

Breaking News: 10 Arrested Blocking Trucks Sent to Shutoff Water Services in Detroit

Detroit Freedom Week, July 11-18

nnu-detroit-water-rally-loc

Rally – Halt evictions of Gratiot-McDougall families, July 11, 12 noon

Freedom Friday 9, July 11, 4pm, 735 Randolph, Detroit

People’s Speakout, July 15, 11am to 2pm, Bankruptcy Court

Rally to Stop the Privatization of Detroit, Friday, July 18, 12:30 PM

Endorsers

Jul 122014
 

detroit_07101

By Ben Ptashnik and Victoria Collier, Progressive.com, July 8, 2014

Oh, make you wanna holler

The way they do my life

This ain’t livin’, this ain’t livin’

No, no baby, this ain’t livin’

No, no, no, no

–Marvin Gaye, “Inner City Blues”

On July 18 thousands of activists and dozens of organizations will converge on downtown Detroit to protest the privatization of the city’s assets and the disconnection of water to tens of thousands of low-income residents. The UN has called the shutoff a human rights violation.  Demonstrators from around the country will rally in Hart Plaza at 1 pm, linking arms with the citizens of Detroit to protest the hostile corporate takeover by Wall Street banks and their ALEC-led political allies in the Michigan Statehouse, including Governor Rick Snyder.

July 18 marks the one-year anniversary of the announcement by Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr that Detroit must file for bankruptcy—a decision that County Judge Rosemarie Aquilina immediately ruled violates the Michigan Constitution and state law and must be withdrawn. “I have some very serious concerns because there was this rush to bankruptcy court that didn’t have to occur and shouldn’t have occurred,” Aquilina stated.  Orr and Snyder managed to circumvent her ruling, and the bankruptcy proceeded. The next few months will determine how successful they will be.

On July 4 the activist community of Detroit put out this call to action: Continue reading »