Program for the National Conference to Defeat Austerity – Subject to change

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Historic St. Matthews-St. Joseph’s Church
8850 Woodward Avenue
(between Holbrook and King)
Detroit, MI 48202

9:00 AM – 10:00 AM Continental breakfast

10:00 AM – 10:45 AM Opening plenary: Chair – Dior Gabrielle

  • Welcome to Detroit and history of austerity in Detroit – Yvonne Jones, Detroit Active and Retired Employees Association, city of Detroit retiree
  • What is austerity — putting Detroit in context of world attacks against working class by banks and finance captial — Abayomi Azikiwe, Moratorium Now Coaltion
  • The Trump tax plan and Pentagon buildup – A declaration of war on all social programs for the poor – Erica Anna – Xicana organizer, Chicago, IL
  • The West Virginia Teachers – resisting to austerity by teachers and workers throughout the south – Dante Strobino, organizer with Southern Workers Assembly
  • Reverend Edward Pinkney – Michigan’s Political Prisoner – imprisoned for fighting austerity

10:45 AM – 11:15 AM Short Talks introducing and leading into workshops
11:15 AM – 12:30 PM Workshops

  • What are interest rate swaps and the other financial instruments being used by banks to rob cities and countries worldwide — a how to on deciphering them and applying them to our daily struggles — Maurice B.P. Drew — executive director of Refund America Project, ACRES
  • The Poor Peoples Campaign, Planning mass civil disobedience in 32 states – Yexenia Vanegas, Detroit organizer for the Poor Peoples Campaign
  • The Housing Crisis, foreclosures, evictions and gentrification (Vanessa Fluker, People’s anti-foreclosure attorney)
  • Education crisis – The Defunding and Privatization of Public Education, Helen Moore longtime public education activist, and Elena Herrada, Detroit School Board in Exile
  • Water Shutoffs – Alice Jennings, lead attorney in Lyda v City of Detrot, which fought against water shutoffs and for the right to affordable water in the Detroit bankruptcy – also Nicole Hill and Roslyn Walker, victims of water shutoffs and plaintiffs in the case.
  • Food Justice – fighting low wages and inaccessibility of healthy food to the oppressed – Johnathan Roberts, Director of ROC Michigan
  • Youth and Austerity (workshop leader to be announced)

12:30 PM – 1:30 PM – Lunch, served at the church, provided by ROC

1:30 PM – 2:30 PM International Dimensions of Struggle Against Austerity – Chair, Abayomi Azikiwe

  • Featured speaker – Ricardo Santos Ramos, former president Electrical Industry and Irrigation Workers Union of Puerto Rico. Reporting on the role of Promesa and the imposition of massive debt service on the continued devastation in Puerto, and the moves to privatize public institutions
  • Julia Kassem, Organizer of US. Palestine Community Network, Detroit, just returned from Lebanon
  • Recording of Jesus Rodriguez Espinosa, former Counsel General for Chicago, on current developments in Venezuela
  • Recording from Jose Maria Sison Chairperson, International Coordinating Committee International League of Peoples Struggle
  • Frank Hammer, ASOTRECOL Solidarity Network, Former president and chairperson UAW 909, Warren, MI, on struggle of Colombian GM workers
  • Statement from Popular Front of Italy
  • Cuba – an example of how health care, education and basic human needs can be guaranteed even in the face of a U.S. blockade – Cosmo – participant in last Venceremos Brigade
  • Other recordings from anti-austerity groups worldwide

2:30 PM – 4:00 PM  National Town Hall on the Fight Against Austerity

  • Carlos Topp, Detroit community activist
  • Jerry King, President, Metro Detroit A. Philip Randolph Institute
  • Baltimore Bus and Transit Riders Union
  • Baxter Jones – the struggle of Persons with Disabilities
  • Speaker from Juvenile Justice Movement
  • Speaker on the struggle for Immigrant Rights
  • Women and the fight against Austerity
  • The LGBTQ movement and the struggle for workers rights
  • Reports from various cities in attendance – Chicago, Philadelphia, Salt Lake City, New York City
  • Living Wage Campaign – Rev. Rideout – D-15 movement and Defenders of Truth and Justice
  • Reports on robbery of Detroit by Gilbert and Ilitch through tax breaks and tax captures.

4:00 PM – 5:00 PM  Final Plenary

Action proposals

    • Solidarity with International Offensive to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal
    • Demonstration against Tax foreclosures
    • National Days of Action Against U.S. Wars
    • May Day
    • Poor People’s Campaign
    • Others to be announced

Summation of the Day

5:00 PM – 6:00 PM  Dinner in the hall

6:00 PM – 8:00 PM  Cultural Program – facilitated by Mond Sankara