By Deborah DuPre


(Videos, photos added by Voice of Detroit)

Bland, Rexdale were political activists

Jail cell deaths took place in Texas, Mississippi, Alabama

#BlackLivesMatter, #SandraBland, #RexdaleHenry, #KindraChapman, #BlackLivesMatterDetroit, #PoliceBrutality

July 27, 2015

Sandra Bland, 19

Rexdale Henry

Rexdale Henry, 53

Kindra Darnell Chapman, 18

Kindra Chapman, 18

Were the three mysterious jail cell deaths of people of color within a matter of hours across southern states this month actually lynchings? That question is sparking national public outrage among human rights defenders and prompting independent investigations. In each case, family members and friends disbelieve official police reports.

Two of the deceased, African American Sandra Bland and Choctaw American Indian Rexdale W. Henry, were noted human rights activists, while the other was 18-year-old African American Kindra Darnell Chapman – each “found dead” within 48 hours in different southern states.

Sandra Bland friends and family grieve.

Sandra Bland friends and family grieve.

Within two days, Ms. Black and Ms. Chapman mysteriously committed suicide by hangings and Mr. Henry mysteriously died with broken bones soon after jailed. Families, loved ones and rights advocates across the country are demanding answers from officials and are galvanizing for what has been called a national “racism emergency” that is to impact 2016 presidential candidates throughout campaigns.

“At Netroots Nation, #BlackLivesMatter leaders called on all of us to use our power to respond to the current state of emergency,” stated Charles Chamberlain, Democracy for America’s executive director in a statement released by TIMES over the weekend. “Democracy for America is ready to heed that call to action and make sure it has real electoral consequences in 2016 and beyond.”

Cleveland cop pepper sprays attendees at Black Lives Matter convention.

Cleveland cop pepper sprays attendees at Black Lives Matter convention.

The emergency escalated again this weekend when Cleveland police assaulted #Black Lives Matter members for rallying for civil and human rights of people of color.

“At a time when the nation is focused on the terrible circumstances of the brutal death of Sandra Bland, it is critical to expose the many ways in which Black Americans, Native Americans and other minorities are being arrested for minor charges and end up dead in jail cells,” stated Syracuse University law professor Janis McDonald of the school’s Cold Case Justice Initiative McDonald.

Sandra Bland's alleged mugshot. Many have questioned whether she might already have been dead when this was taken. She was severely injured by arresting cop during traffic stop.

Sandra Bland’s alleged mugshot. Many have questioned whether she might already have been dead when this was taken. She was severely injured by arresting cop, who slammed her head into the ground. 

On July 13, Sandra Bland allegedly committed suicide 72 hours after police in Texas happened to be driving near her, saw she failed to use her turn signal, stopped, assaulted and jailed her, according to a now famous video. Ms. Bland was a well known activist. Her death is now investigated as a murder.

[Read: Police Cover-Up: Chilling Final Words Mysteriously Slain Targeted Woman Screamed to Brutal Texas Cop after Ripped from Car, Slammed to Ground]

Among the Bland death mystery questions is did police tamper with video evidence? The video that police released is missing minutes – three whole minutes. Soon after the dashboard camera video was released, the public began scrutinizing a moment in the video when a white car driving along suddenly disappeared. Later, a tow truck driver is seen walking off camera, only to reappear from inside his truck. Officials claimed that video segments were affected during the original upload. The following day, the Texas Department of Public Safety re-released the footage — three minutes shorter than the original.

The next day, on July 14, Rexdale W. Henry, a 53-year-old American Indian activist was found dead in Neshoba County Jail in Philadelphia, Miss. Detention officers say they found Henry’s body around 10 a.m. Reports and logs reveal that he was seen alive and fine only half an hour before that, according to WTOK. The state crime lab in Jackson conducted an autopsy and the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation is looking into the case. What is known thus far is that Mr. Henry suffered two broken ribs before his “mysterious” death.

Neshoba County Jail

Neshoba County Jail where Rexdale Henry died.

On July 14, the same day Mr. Henry was found dead — the day after Ms. Bland’s death and the day African American Kindra Chapman, 18, was reported as a suicide in her jail cell soon after arrested for an alleged minor offense. Booked just before 6:30 p.m. Ms. Chapman was “found unresponsive” in her cell at 7:50 p.m. Like Ms. Bland, authorities were quick to announce Chapman’s death by suicide hanging.

These three well-loved individuals join a long list of now-familiar names of black people’s deaths over the past year that have ignited a national movement for change: Eric Garner, Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, Akai Gurley, Walter Scott. Until recently, that list of much-repeated names included few women. Two weeks ago marked the one-year anniversary of Eric Garner’s death at the hands of police officers, while next month is the anniversary of Mike Brown’s.

Vigil for Kindra Chapman

Vigil for Kindra Chapman

Racism-related violence amid today’s martial law, codified in 2012 with the NDAA, has prompted the nation’s one-million-member, progressive, grassroots network Democracy for America to change its presidential candidate endorsement proposals. The nation’s largest network says it will now seek to support candidates according to how they address racism, the new central criteria for DFA’s endorsements, according to an advance copy of the announcement obtained by TIME.

American are eight times more likely to be killed by a police officer than a terrorist of any other kind.


VOD with redIt will take more than the presidential elections, or any elections, to stem the flood of racist killings by police and others across the U.S. To date, http://killedbypolice.net/ has recorded 663 deaths at the hands of law enforcement in 2015 alone, maintaining a steady ratio of over three killings a day.

Terrance Kellom with infant son. His daughter was born after his death.

Terrance Kellom, 19,  with infant son.

Anthony Clark-Reed

Anthony Clark-Reed, 24

Michaelangelo and Makiah Jackson, 6 and 3

Michaelangelo and Makiah Jackson, 6 and 3

This is nothing but outright war. For those who fear martial law, it is already here. In Detroit, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy has yet to bring any charges against police in the deaths of Terrance Kellom, 19, Anthony Clark-Reed, 23, and police chase victims Michaelangelo and Makiah Jackson, 6 and 3 respectively. Not to mention the very long list of killings by Detroit police that have taken place during her terms of office.

Related stories:

Terrance Kellom:






Anthony Clark-Reed



Michaelangelo and Makiah Jackson




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Bill Davis, Pres. of DAREA, carries banner in protest against county tax foreclosures June 8, 2015,

Bill Davis, Pres. of DAREA, carries banner in protest against county tax foreclosures June 8, 2015,



August 05, 2015 @ 5:30PM



If you believed Detroit’s bankruptcy was necessary you need to hear Professor Peter J. Hammer’s presentation on Connecting the Dots- Detroit’s Bankruptcy at DAREA’s Town Hall Meeting.  This bankruptcy was not necessary! Using retirees to reduce Detroit’s debt was unnecessary and unconscionable, retirees were used as a scapegoat!

Wake Up Detroit, Wake Up Retirees!


Professor Peter J. Hammer

Professor Peter J. Hammer

Professor Peter J. Hammer

Professor of Law & Director, Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights, WSU Law School

“…any legitimate analysis of the Detroit Bankruptcy and the City’s Plan of Adjustment must be situated in the context of the Three R’s Race, Regionalism and Reconciliation. These are the root causes of Detroit’s current financial crisis and yet they are completely absent from the report.” 

Quote from Peter J. Hammer’s letter to Judge Stephen W. Rhodes on the Evaluation of the “Expert Report of Martha E.M. Kopacz Regarding the Feasibility of the City of Detroit Plan of Adjustment, September 1, 2014.”

Connecting the Dots in Detroit 2

Peter J. Hammer, Director of the Damon J.  Keith Center of Civil Rights is dedicated to promoting the educational, economic and political empowerment of under-represented communities in urban areas and to ensuring that the phrase equal justice under law applies to all members of society. Professor Hammer was instrumental in editing and compiling Judge Damon J. Keith’s new biography, Crusader for Justice: Federal Judge Damon J. Keith (2013). Professor Hammer has become a leading voice on the economic and social issues impacting the city of Detroit, and has added new courses to the law school curriculum on Race, Law and Social Change in Southeast Michigan and Re-Imagining Development in Detroit: Institutions, Law& Society.

 Additional Information @  Detroit2700plus@gmail.com  313-649-7018

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/StopTheGrandTheftofDetroitsPension

DAREA holds press conference against bankruptcy plan of adjustment July 3, 2014.

DAREA press conference against bankruptcy plan  July 3, 2014. DAREA VP Cecily McClellan speaking.

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Groups rally at Coleman A. Young Center July 15, 2015 to protest the “Great Black-Out” of Detroit businesses, residents, and services.

Bert’s at Eastern Market endangered in fraudulent deal by white entreprenuers, Duggan’s aide Tom Lewand leads effort to gentrify Market

Tangerine club closed by Atwater Brewery, owned by suburban whites

Black cab drivers being replaced by Uber, other unlicensed cab cos.

Retirees fight takeover of DWSD, largest asset of largest Black city in U.S.; referendum petitions continue to be circulated past original deadline

Stand UpNOW demands “Turn the lights on” in Black neighborhoods

#BlackBusinessMatters, #BoycottAtwaterBrewery, #SaveBert’s, #OurWaterOurVote, #Turnonthelights, #StandUpNOW

By Diane Bukowski

 July 23, 2015 

Protester: The Great BLACK-OUT.

DETROIT – Black Detroit business-owners, cab drivers, homeowners, city retirees opposing the takeover of the Detroit water department and water shut-offs, and residents campaigning for streetlights rallied July 21 against what they called “The Great Black-Out” of Detroit.

Chanting, “Black Business Matters,” they marched from Hart Plaza across Woodward to the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center. They say Detroit “Mayor “Mike Duggan, Wayne County Executive Warren Evans, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, landlord-tenant judges, and other government officials are aiding a reverse “white flight” by corporate landlords, entrepreneurs, and hotel owners.

“We were here long before Dan Gilbert,” said Marcus Cummings, who chaired the rally at Hart Plaza. Its participants then marched around the Coleman A. Young Center, pledging to return every Tuesday.

Darnell Small, owner of Tangerine Supper Club, which has now been shutdown by Atwater Brewery owner Mark Reith.

Darnell Small, owner of Tangerine Supper Club, which has now been shutdown by Atwater Brewery owner Mark Reith.

Darnell Small, owner of Tangerine, a nightclub on Jos. Campau, along with his sister Nicole Small, and Bert Dearing, owner of Bert’s Warehouse and Theater in Eastern Market, spearheaded the protest. Small said he was illegally evicted May 15 from his elegant quarters by his landlord Mark Reith of Rivertown Holdings, who also owns Atwater Brewery next door. Protesters called for a boycott of Atwater Brewery.

Bert’s location at 2727 Russell was sold for $2.7 million on www.auction.com month, but he filed a court complaint July 21 alleging fraud to reverse the sale, with the assistance of RICOBusters. A major player in his eviction is Simon Group Holdings, whose CEO is Sam Simon of Birmingham, Michigan. The company has numerous affiliates including the Atlas Oil Company based in Taylor. Simon also owns Soaring Pine Capital Real Estate & Debt Funding, LLC, founded in 2014, which RICObusters says consolidated with another company to form 2727 Russell, LLC in order to buy Bert’s at tax auction.

(Full RICObusters report is at Fraud Surrounding the Auction of Berts Marketplace.)

Atwater Brewer owner Mark Reith, second from right, with his leadership team.

Atwater Brewer owner Mark Reith, second from right, with his leadership team.

“I’ve been doing business in Detroit for 25 years,” Small said. “I lured people down here to Rivertown. We litigated for over a year and a half, but Atwater Brewery, owned by a guy who lives in Grosse Pointe, had us put us out. The property was restored to us May 20, but we were not given keys. We’re out, our business is destroyed, Tangerine is no more. Our lease was a contract, and our nation is built on contracts. We are standing up against judges at 36th District Court who sign illegal eviction notices, and Duggan and Snyder.”

His sister Nicole said, “We’re the majority in the city. How dare you say we can be anywhere except downtown Detroit and ‘midtown’? We want prime real estate for $1 just like Gilbert and the rest. Gilbert just got a $1 million grant for Capitol Park through the City Council and the Mayor.”

Nicole Small speaks at rally.

Nicole Small speaks at rally.

Dearing recalled his jazz club’s illustrious history in Detroit.

“I’ve done business in Detroit for over 47 years,” Dearing said. “My club was at 150 W. Jefferson beginning in 1957, but I was displaced from there and forced to move to Eastern Market,” Dearing said. “What programs is our government putting together for people of color to survive in Detroit?”

Dearing’s Eastern Market location has been a popular venue for thousands around the world for years. Patrons hold mass meetings in his theater, attend jazz concerts and eat home-cooked soul food in his restaurant, along with barbecue dinners cooked outside during Eastern Market shopping days.

Bert Dearing addresses rally.

Bert Dearing addresses rally.

“Bert has been around Detroit for years and years,” a commenter in a local discussion forum said in 2013. “He used to be kiddie-corner from the Hotel Pontchartrain. . . .Bert has been holding outdoor BBQ’s, karaoke, and Jazz concerts since dinosaurs started playing stand-up bass. I’ve sent numerous out-of-towners to his Thursday open mic/Jazz thing . . . .In fact, Bert’s, @ Eastern Mark-Up was about the most peaceful, racially mixed crowd you could find anywhere in Detroit. When Eastern Mark-Up became privatized, things started changing. . . .Bert’s no longer “fit in” to Eastern Mark-Up’s grand scheme of things, and the fact that market goers wandered across the street to eat BBQ and sing karaoke, rubbed someone the wrong way. His licenses weren’t being renewed, citing ‘ violations.’”

Eastern Market was contracted out by the City of Detroit to the Eastern Market Corporation in 2006. The Corporation’s chairman is currently Tom Lewand, who is “Mayor” Duggan’s Group Executive for Jobs and Economic Growth. Since then prices have gone up, causing the commenter to call it “Eastern Mark-Up.” Lewand’s son F. Thomas Lewand is president of the Detroit Lions.

Bert's at Eastern Market.

Bert’s at Eastern Market.

Kenneth “Kabaka” Reynolds of the Metro Detroit Cab Drivers Association spoke as drivers unfurled their banner and honked cabs driving around the CAYMC.

His group of mainly Black cab drivers has been fighting Uber, Inc., and Transportation Network Companies, being popularized in local media as “ride-sharing.” Reynolds said they use non-licensed independent contractors who operate their personal vehicles with non-commercial license plates. Despite a state “cease and desist” order to Uber issued in Dec. 2013, Detroit city government entered into an interim operating agreement in May, 2014 with Uber.

Kenneth  leads march with cab drivers' banner.

KennethK abaka Reynolds leads march with cab drivers’ banner.

“When you get into a cab, you don’t know who is driving it,” he said. “The City and State have permitted these de facto taxi companies to flout the laws by deploying an invasion of unlicensed cars and drivers in Detroit and Michigan for over a year.”

He also said Detroit police are harassing legitimate cab drivers with stepped up traffic enforcement and fines.

“Over 37,000 homes in Detroit are in active foreclosure due to illegal taxation,” Errol Jennings of the Russell Woods-Sullivan Neighborhood Association said. “Over 10,000 people have had their water shut-off. Beginning in 1950, Detroit Mayor Albert Cobo oversaw the destruction of our community, including Black Bottom and Paradise Valley. Now we are seeing Black business after Black business being shut down again. Black street performers have been forced out of Greektown.”

G. Errol Jennings of Russell Woods-Sullivan Neighborhood Association speaking.

He led the crowd in a chant of “Treat us fair, we ain’t going nowhere!”

Cecily McClellan, Vice-President of the Detroit Active and Retired Employees Association (DAREA), called on marchers to sign and circulate a legal petition for a referendum to be placed on the ballot regarding the City of Detroit’s contract with the Great Lakes Water Authority.

DAREA is a member of the Coalition to Save the Detroit Water & Sewerage Department. It says the coalition will continue circulating the petitions despite a previously-announced deadline of July 27. Public Act 233 of 1955, which authorized the contract, giving up Detroit’s largest asset, says 15,000 signatures of registered voters in the city must be collected within 45 days after the publication of a notice informing residents of the contract, and their right to a referendum vote. To date, no such notice has been published. See information on petition campaign and how to obtain them below.

Save D CM cropped 7 21 15

Cecily McClellan speaks about petition campaign to save DWSD.

Cynthia Johnson of StandUp Now called on members of the crowd to join her group at Dexter and Waveney, near W. Davison, Thurs. night at 9 pm for their weekly protest against the lack of any operating street lights in that neighborhood. The protest was vividly covered that night by Channel 7, which turned off its camera lights to show darkened streets lit only by auto headlights.

Johnson said the situation there has led to many traffic accidents and even deaths. The Public Lighting Authority, which is taking over Detroit’s Public Lighting Department, has said it will shut down 40 percent of Detroit’s street lights permanently.



Cabdrivers (flier for Metro Detroit Cab Drivers)








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Fast food workers rally in New York City; they have just won their demand throughout the state.

Fast food workers rally in New York City; they have just won their demand throughout the state.

International Business Times

By Cole Stangler

July 23, 2015

#FIGHTFOR15, #D15, #StandupKC, #LuchaPor15

Fast food worker

Fast food worker David Ramirez/IBT US

ALBANY, NY  — New York made shockwaves on Wednesday when a specially-convened state wage board called for a hike in the minimum pay for fast food workers to $15 an hour. Assuming it’s approved by Gov. Andrew Cuomo –and no signs suggest otherwise– the new rate will be, at once, a jaw-dropping victory for labor activists, a rare political setback for name-brand restaurant chains, and the latest piece of fodder for a national debate about the value of fair pay. It also can’t come soon enough for David Ramirez.

“We need that raise, my man,” says Ramirez, 52, an employee at the same Subway restaurant in midtown Manhattan for the past 10 years, where he earns the state minimum, now $8.75. “We bust our a– up in here.”

On most days, Ramirez wakes well before dawn in downtown Brooklyn, where he splits monthly rent of $1300 with his mother who receives Social Security benefits. He usually starts work at 5 in the morning. When his shift ends at 3 in the afternoon, he heads to a different Subway in Woodmere, Queens –about an hour and a half away by train– and works another 4 hours. It makes for an exhausting 60 hour work week. Since he divides the time over two jobs, neither tallying more than 40 hours per week, Ramirez doesn’t earn any overtime. In New York City, he says, those annual earnings of about $21,000 are hard to get by on. A raise of $6 would go a long way.

“It would make a big difference, not just to me,” he says, “but other families too.”

Video below: Fast food workers of Minneapolis, MN rally June 6, 2015 before traveling to Detroit for national fast food workers convention. It was the same day New York Governor Andrew Cuomo held the first public hearing on wage hike in that state. Workers at this rally fully expected NY victory.

Uncharted Waters

That was also the thinking of the Fast Food Wage Board, which voted unanimously in support of the $15 rate. The pay hike would apply to fast food chains with 30 or more locations nationwide, and be phased in over time, becoming mandatory in New York City by 2019, and the rest of the state by July 2021. Backed with enthusiasm by Gov. Cuomo, the raise can proceed without legislative approval: a New Deal era law allows state regulators to boost wages for specific industries and occupations where they deem pay “insufficient to provide for the life and health” of workers. The raise comes after two and a half years of high-visibility protests from the so-called Fight For 15, a movement of low-wage workers and labor activists backed by the powerful Service Employees International Union that demands higher wages in fast food and other low-paying sectors.

Crowds cheer as New York board approves $15 hr. minimum wage for fast food workers.

Crowds cheer as New York board approves $15 hr. minimum wage for fast food workers.

Amid pressure from these activists, other major cities have already approved $15 minimum wages –Seattle, San Francisco and both the city and county of Los Angeles– but New York’s looming pay hike is unique for a couple of reasons. For one, it’s the only one to apply to a single industry. It also would take effect across the entire state, whereas the other ambitious wage hikes have all been limited to cities.

Minimum Wage by State | InsideGov

Jay Holland, government affairs coordinator for the New York State Restaurant Association, blasted the state’s decision to single out the fast food industry. “This is an economic policy that’s never been tried before,” he says of the sector-wide wage. “The idea that an EMT worker or a home care aide should make less than a fast food worker flies in the face of reason.”

Detroit fast food workers block east side intersection at McDonald's Sept. 4, 2014 during national day of civil disobedience.

Detroit fast food workers block east side intersection at McDonald’s Sept. 4, 2014 during national day of civil disobedience.

“Most restaurants operate under really thin margins,” he adds. “You’re gonna have to raise prices, lay people off or come up with some creative scheduling practices to save money.”

Anna agrees with Holland. She earns $9.75 an hour and works 32 hours a week, scrubbing tables and mopping floors at a McDonald’s in midtown Manhattan. Like many low-wage workers, she lacks job protections and did not provide her last name. “It sounds good,” she says of $15 an hour, “but you know they’re gonna cut hours. That’s what they’re already doing.”

James Sherk, labor policy expert at the conservative Heritage Foundation, says the pay mandates will accelerate the industry’s turn toward automation — self-service tablets, for example, that replace the need for cashiers. Such technologies are already being developed, but are not yet widely used.

“The main barrier to implementation is the up-front cost and then maintenance,” Sherk says. “But with the minimum wage going up it will make a lot more sense for McDonald’s to do this. It changes the financial calculus.”

Police start arrests at fast food protest in Detroit Sept. 4, 2014.

Police start arrests at fast food protest in Detroit Sept. 4, 2014.

Tsedeye Gebreselassie, staff attorney at the left-leaning National Employment Law Project, shrugs off the criticism. Businesses always tend to complain when the wage floor rises, she says, and this is no exception. Plus, the hike is staggered over time, giving the firms –which include some of the largest corporations in the nation– plenty of time to adjust.

The boost will also deliver broader benefits to the economy, as workers find themselves with more spending power than before. That bottom tier of the labor force is in despearate need of economic gains. “Part of why there has to be such a dramatic increase is that wages have fallen so dramatically,” Gebreselassie says. “This is about playing catch up.”

Detroit fast food workers took over W. Grand Blvd. in front of McDonald's in 2012.

Detroit fast food workers took over W. Grand Blvd. in front of McDonald’s during first fast food workers strike in 2013.

It’s also about setting high standards for an increasingly large part of the labor force, she says. More than 4 million people work in the fast food sector nationwide; 180,000 of them are in New York.

As the recovery continues to inch forward, lingering myths of fast food as a temporary gig for teens simply don’t reflect the new economic reality. A New York survey found 87.5 percent of the state’s fast food workers are aged 19 and older. “Because this is such a growing industry, more and more adults are going to be spending their careers in it,” she says. It makes sense that decent pay should follow.

Another benefit of the wage hike is that it remains largely immune to a common threat of employers confronted with mounting high labor costs: relocation. Unlike the sorts of manufacturing jobs that companies can easily ship to cheaper states or countries — say, General Electric’s ongoing relocation from a unionized capacitor plant in Fort Edward, New York to non-union Clearwater, Florida — fast food restaurants aren’t about to up and leave the state en masse. “You need to be where your customers are, where the demand is,” says Gebreselassie.

“Everything’s Rising Except For The Pay”

First fast food workers' strike in Detroit 2013.

First fast food workers’ strike in Detroit 2013.

For many workers, business concerns don’t change the fact that current pay practices verge on the nightmarish.

“Everything’s rising except for the pay — rents, food, transportation” says Filiberto Carrillo, who, like David Ramirez, has to work at two different New York City Subways to make ends meet. He’s worked at Subway for 6 years, he says, and earns $10 an hour. “Right now, when you ask for more pay, they just give you more hours.”

Jose Carillo. 81-year-old NYC McDonald's worker, is arrested during national fast food strike in 2013.

Jose Carillo. 81-year-old NYC McDonald’s worker, is arrested during national fast food strike in 2013.

Physically, he cannot tolerate much more. Carrillo says he usually works 15 to 16 hour days, or 75 hours a week. A $15 wage would be a relief, he says, before going to fix coffee for an anxious customer in line.

Meanwhile, for David Ramirez, a pay raise might resolve his MetroCard dilemma. Right now, he uses a weekly pass. He knows it’s cheaper to get the monthly one, but it’s especially prone to malfunction if it bends a lot — it’s happened before and takes far too long to get fixed. The monthly cost difference between the two passes is about 7 dollars. He would rather not make such calculations.

‘Fight For $15′ workers create recipe for change at  Detroit convention

About 1,300 low-wage workers gathered in Detroit to celebrate minimum-wage hikes

Fast food workers at national convention in Detroit June, 2015.

Fast food workers at national convention in Detroit June, 2015.


By E. Tammy Kim @etammykim

AlJazeera America

June 6, 2015

DETROIT — Some 1,300 low-wage fast-food workers came from around the country to Detroit’s Cobo Center on Saturday for the second “Fight for $15″ convention. There was a victorious buzz in the air, though most of the line cooks and cashiers are new to the labor movement.

In the main hall, a sea of workers and allies stomped in unison and yelled, “We work, we sweat, put $15 on our check!” The round ballroom was festooned with banners from Arizona, Little Rock, St. Louis, Memphis, Boston and Miami.

Arrests in Detroit Sept. 4, 2014.

Arrests in Detroit Sept. 4, 2014.

Those wearing the red “We Are Worth More” T-shirts were mostly Latino and African American, organized by community groups and the Service Employees International Union, and drawn from almost every imaginable franchise — McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, Wendy’s, Subway, Arby’s and regional chains like Hardee’s.

The workers still want what they demanded in the first fast-food strikes in 2012: $15 per hour and a union.

Fifteen dollars seemed unattainable then, but much has changed. On Friday, New York state convened its wage board to consider raising minimum hourly pay for fast-food workers, and St. Louis was set to introduce a proposal for phasing in $15 across the board. Last week, Los Angeles passed a $15 minimum wage to take effect by 2020, following the lead of San FranciscoSeattle and Sea-Tac, Washington.

“Two years ago, wage inequality was not even being mentioned. Now, there’s talk of how all workers need benefits and a raise, and the benefits of joining a union,” said Terrance Wise, an employee of McDonald’s and Burger King locations in Kansas City and an oft-profiled member of the Fight For $15’s national leadership committee. He has helped coordinate seven strikes in Kansas City and came by bus to downtown Detroit with 150 fellow workers.

Terrance Wise leading strike at Burger King in Kansas City/ photo NYT

Terrance Wise leading strike at Burger King in Kansas City/ photo NYT

Janell Rose and Gaylord Cade, both 31, support their three kids — ages 2,4 and 6 — with fast-food jobs.E. Tammy Kim

Janell Rose and her husband Gaylord Cade also came from Missouri. They are both employed in the industry — Rose at Hardee’s and Cade at Wendy’s — at $7.65 per hour, supporting themselves and their three young children. Cade has grease burns on his forearms.

“We’re here to fight for 15,” he said. “It’s needed. I barely have any family time and am stressing about paying the bills.”

Luis Ortiz' family in Texas has four fast food workers.

Luis Ortiz’ family in Texas has four fast food workers.

A full-time employee paid the federal minimum wage of $7.25 lives just above the federal poverty level, which is itself an outdated measure of wellness.

According to a 2013 study by the UC Berkeley Labor Center, more than half of the households supported by front-line fast-food workers rely on public benefits, including Medicaid and food stamps. This, many economists say, is a subsidy to corporations like McDonald’s, which reported nearly $5 billion in profits last year and has been condemned for pushing employees to apply for government assistance.

Walmart, too, is vulnerable to the same criticisms, and worker protests under the banner of OUR Walmart actually preceded those in fast food. Yet it is the calls for justice at McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Burger King and Taco Bell — those iconic, omnipresent U.S. eateries — that have catalyzed discontent over wages.

Related from Voice of Detroit:




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July 21 fliers_0001July 21 fliers_0002

For full copy of second 4-page flier, click on Stop Illegal Foreclosures.

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Witnesses told VOD July 16 that the police chase which ended with the deaths of Makiah and Michaelangelo Jackson proceeded at a high rate of speed along this route, not the route testified to by Officer Steven Feltz during Lorenzo Harris' exam.

Witnesses told VOD July 16 that the police chase which ended with the deaths of Makiah and Michaelangelo Jackson proceeded at a high rate of speed along this route, not the route testified to by Officer Steven Feltz during Lorenzo Harris’ exam.

Chase wound from E. Warren to Mack, then up Nottingham past E. Warren, neighborhood residents say

Police traveled at high rate of speed throughout chase, almost caused Camaro to hit other children at Nottingham and Brunswick

“When are we going to stop police chases in Detroit? They wouldn’t do it in the suburbs.” – Defense attorney Marvin Barnett

Harris bound over on all counts, arraignment on info July 20

#PoliceBrutality,  #StopPoliceChases#JusticeforMakiahMichaelangelo, #policeviolence#blacklivesmatter, #blacklivesmatterDetroit, #policechase,  #pursuit#saveourchildren, thisstopstoday , MMCare, #Beatbackthebullies

By Diane Bukowski

July 16, 2015

Michaelangelo and Makiah Jackson

Michaelangelo and Makiah Jackson. Family photos.

DETROIT — Eyewitnesses interviewed by VOD today about the June 24 high speed police chase which ended with the deaths of Makiah and Michaelangelo Jackson, 3 and 6 years old, strongly contradicted police testimony given July 13 during the preliminary exam of Lorenzo Harris, 29.

Detroit Special Ops officers Steven Feltz, Richard Billingslea, and Hakeem Patterson started chasing Harris near E. Warren and Haverhill, wound south almost to Mack Avenue, then back up Nottingham, the witnesses said. The Jackson children were killed on Nottingham near Frankfort, north of E. Warren.

“The police tried to ram the car at the corner of Nottingham and Brunswick [one block north of Mack] and nearly hit my kids, 14 and 11,” a resident living near that location told VOD. “He [Harris] almost jumped that curb over there where there were other little kids. You’d think the police would have backed off the chase at that point, but they were going 80 to 90 mph right on his bumper. If he would have tapped his brake, they would have hit him.”

Detroit officer Steven Feltz' version of the chase, given at prelimary exam of Lorenzo Harris July 13.

Detroit officer Steven Feltz’ version of the chase, given at prelimary exam of Lorenzo Harris July 13.

A Google map of the chase as described (at top) shows it took 37 minutes, not the 45 seconds alleged by Detroit Police Chief James Craig. Even the police version of the chase would have taken 13 minutes.

After Feltz’ testimony and that of Detective Sgt. Christopher Weitzel and two civilian witnesses, Thirty-sixth District Court Judge Shannon D. Holmes bound Harris over on two counts of second-degree murder, three counts of failure to stop at the scene of an accident, unlawful driving away of a motor vehicle, carrying a concealed weapon (CCW), two felony firearms charges,  three counts of  failure to stop at the scene of a serious personal injury accident, two counts of failure to stop at the scene when at fault, causing death, three counts of reckless driving causing serious bodily impairment, and two counts  of fleeing police officers, first degree.

She scheduled an arraignment on the information for July 20. To date, no charges have been brought against the officers.

Defense Atttorney Marvin Barnett

Defense Atttorney Marvin Barnett/Photo Beth Fisher WWJ

“You have two citizens driving down a residential street, one a person on parole, allegedly going 100 mph, while police were chasing them 90 mph,” Harris’ newly-retained defense attorney Marvin Barnett told VOD. “When are we going to stop police chases in Detroit? They wouldn’t do it in the suburbs. How in the world do Detroit citizens allow this to continue?”

The Nottingham resident said a friend who lives on Haverhill told him the cops chased Harris south down Haverhill from the direction of E. Warren to Bremen, where they turned right to Somerset, then right onto Brunswick to Nottingham, where they turned back north. Another witness living on Haverhill confirmed he saw the chase going south at a high rate of speed, with the officers closely behind.

The Nottingham resident also said cops in the Ninth Precinct, most of them white, constantly harass, illegally search, rob, and arrest Blacks in the community, particularly if they are driving expensive-looking cars like the red Camaro driven by Harris.

He said he himself was arrested while driving his restored car with expensive rims. He said both he and his wife work, but the cops accused him of being a drug dealer and took all the money he had just cashed from his paycheck. He still faces charges in the case.

Nottingham and Brunswick, one block north of Mack, where witness says police car nearly hit his and other children.

Nottingham and Brunswick, one block north of Mack, where witness says police car nearly hit his and other children.

It is VOD’s policy not to publicly identify witnesses who may face police retaliation.

Feltz, a four-year DPD veteran from the Fifth Precinct, who is white with a shaven head, testified that the officers were on routine patrol at the beginning of the chase at Devonshire and Cornwall. He said he was the right front passenger in a 2004 “fully marked” white Crown Victoria, with Billingslea driving. Craig earlier revealed that the car’s dashboard camera was not operable.

“I observed a red Chevy Camaro, late model, in front of me at the intersection,” Feltz said. “I observed a black handgun in the right hand of the driver, and we activated our lights and siren a few seconds afterwards.”

No handgun was entered into evidence. Chief Craig earlier said none was found.

Police Chief James Craig with Special Ops cops during "Operation Mistletoe," one of a series of 18 raids he has led through Detroit neighborhoods looking for individuals with outstanding warrants.

Police Chief James Craig with Special Ops cops during “Operation Mistletoe,” one of a series of 18 raids he has led through Detroit neighborhoods looking for individuals with outstanding warrants. The chase that led to the Jackson children’s death may have been part of one of those operations.

He said the Camaro “accelerated at a high rate of speed,” with the scout car in pursuit down Cornwall at approximately 50 mph. He said the Camaro crossed Warren at Nottingham at a speed of about 100 mph, while the scout car remained “a good block to a block and a half away.”

He continued, “I was getting ready to notify my partners to stop the chase when I observed a large cloud of dust,” down the street on Nottingham.

“While approaching Nottingham and Frankfort, directly in the middle of the street, I saw a small child lying motionless, then another small child to my left laying on the curb. [We] stopped the vehicle and contacted headquarters.”

He said he laid Makiah, who appeared to have her left arm and leg broken, on her back. She was not breathing, he said, so he administered CPR, while another scout car picked up Michaelangelo. He said he conveyed Makiah to St. John’s Hospital, where an emergency room doctor declared her dead from a broken neck.

On cross-exam by Barnett, Feltz said he was looking into the Camaro from its passenger side, and admitted that he said in his written report that he thought the gun was in the driver’s right hand. He said the driver was “moving it around.”

Miami Dade police Ford Crown Victoria Interceptor pictured in 2004.

Miami Dade police Ford Crown Victoria Interceptor pictured in 2004. No photo available of 2004 Detroit police Interceptor. Feltz testified it couldn’t drive more than 50 mph.

He said the police car’s lights and siren were on as it approached Warren. He said the procedure for calling off a chase is to notify dispatch and turn off the car’s lights and siren, but that they did not turn them off at any point.

An audiotape of the chase released by the Detroit News shows no contact was made with dispatch or supervisors.

Feltz said their car was “about 50 feet,” not a block and a half, behind the Camaro when it crossed Warren. He denied the car had gone up on the grass, saying mud found on the car was already there because it had not been washed before the chase.

During the exam, the Jackson children’s mother Alisha Jackson was present with two friends and an aunt, Bertha Matthews. Matthews told VOD after the exam that she had gone to the Jackson house about 11 p.m. and remained until 4 a.m.

Bertha Lesure Matthews

Bertha Lesure Matthews, relative of Jackson family, was at preliminary exam of Lorenzo Harris. Facebook photo.

“Where is the gun?” she asked. “The police were out there all that time looking and looking for it. That chase was not appropriate in a residential neighborhood.”

She said the police were listening to news reports, and every time a piece of evidence was reported, including a lpiec of the Camaro left in the middle of the street, they hurried to retrieve it. She added that people from the neighborhood of Mack and Nottingham came to the scene and told them the chase had gone through that area.

Eyewitnesses told VOD during a candlelight vigil at the Jackson home June 26 that the police were directly behind the Camaro after it crossed Warren on Nottingham. One witness standing with Makiah said she saw the police car bump the Camaro, sending it out of control into the children who were killed and injured. The alleged bump may have been a “Precision Immobilization Technique,” or PIT, used by police.

Children seriously injured at second house: Darius Andrews, Jr. 3, Isaiah Williams, 5, Zyaire Gardner, 7.

Children seriously injured at second house: Darius Andrews, Jr. 3, Isaiah Williams, 5, Zyaire Gardner, 7.

Other witnesses at the vigil told VOD that the officers continued the chase without stopping after the Jackson children were hit, into the next block where three other children Darius Andrews, Jr., 3, Isaiah Williams, 5, and Zyaire Gardner, 7, were severely injured. Gardner’s lungs collapsed and he was flown to a hospital in Ann Arbor.

On July 16, Gardner’s aunt Kiera Andrews told VOD that Gardner was improving, but still in the hospital. She was sitting on the porch next to where the children were hit, with her little son Isaiah Williams, 5, one of those hit, LaKendra Hill, who was also hit and injured, and two other small children related to the Gardner family, braiding their hair.

Lorenzo Harris at previous exam.

Lorenzo Harris at previous exam.

“My son doesn’t even want to come here now,” she said. “All our kids live right up here. I know he [Lorenzo Harris] is in there in jail now hurting. I don’t hate him. God be with him. I’ve heard from a friend that he is a nice man. The police did what they do, and it killed little bitty babies and hurt other kids.”

Sgt. Weitzel, Aubrey Gardner, father of Zyaire, and Joel Fowler, a neighbor, also testified at the exam. Another civilian witness did not show for the exam.

Weitzel said he arrived at the scene at 8:30 pm, after the crashes. He testified to various exhibits, although he said on cross exam he was not qualified as an expert witness, had not taken the photos entered as exhibits, and did not know who the evidence technicians were.

Exhibits included photos of tire tracks on the street, sidewalk and grass going down two blocks of Nottingham, and a large rock that was in the middle of the street and became lodged under the red Camaro driven by Harris, sending the car airborne before it was dislodged.

Cops search Harris car for gun after chase June 24, 2015.

Cops search Harris car for gun after chase June 24, 2015.

Also shown were photos of debris from the Camaro and a stop sign, and destruction of the area around the second home on Nottingham where the three other children and LaKendra Hill were hit.

Over Barnett’s objection, Judge Holmes admitted a statement from the owner of the Camaro, said to be Harris’ girlfriend, to back up the charge that the car was unlawfully driven away. She was interviewed at DPD headquarters, according to Weitzel, but was not in custody.

Holmes also admitted police reports stating the police car was travelling at a high rate of speed, and a CDR from the Camaro which police said showed it was travelling 100 mph.

Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Danielle Hagaman-Clark  played a fuzzy videotape of part of the chase from an unknown camera near E. Warren and Nottingham. The Camaro is seen in the far upper right hand corner of the video, with not much else clear about the chase.

Skid marks on sidewalk just before the Jackson home (at upper left).

Skid marks on sidewalk just before the Jackson home (at upper left).

Weitzel claimed the tire tracks in the photos were from one car, the Camaro, not the police car. He said skid marks could have been the result of braking or of acceleration.

Fowler, who lives on Nottingham across from the Jackson home, said he saw the red Camaro traveling at a high rate of speed on two wheels, with a large rock lodged underneath. He said it hit the Jackson children after the rock was dislodged. He said the police car was in the street, with only its lights, not its siren on.

He admitted that the statement he gave police said he saw the Camaro hit three children, but that the police “wrote it down wrong.” He said on cross exam that the police car was about 50 yards away from the Camaro.

Piece of Camaro left on lawn after chase. Police belatedly retrieved it that night.

Piece of Camaro left on Jackson’s lawn after chase. Police belatedly retrieved it that night.

Aubrey Gardner, Zaire’s father, said he was barbecuing at the family home on Nottingham when he heard sirens and a car revving its engine. He said he came to the front of the house as he heard children screaming, and saw the Camaro hit the van in his driveway, pinning his son Zaire and nephew Darius Andrews, Jr. against the house.

He said he saw Harris open the door “to the best of his knowledge.” Later he said he didn’t know how Harris got out of the car. He said Harris jumped out of the car and ran past him through his backyard. He said he identified Harris at DPD headquarters from a photo line-up. He said he couldn’t tell how fast the two cars were going, but that it was the Camaro revving its engine “real loud.”

Barnett objected to the CCW count because of lack of evidence, and to the witness statement from Harris’ girl-friend as hearsay since she was not there to testify, but Judge Holmes refused to dismiss those counts.

Mother holds child tightly during candlelight vigil June 26 at Jackson family home.

Mother holds child tightly during candlelight vigil June 26 at Jackson family home.

Related stories:



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Citizens for Detroits Future logo 2


Commission Report Triggers Ordinance Enactment Procedure

July 15, 2015

Tom Barrow, Pres. Citizens for Detroit's Future

Tom Barrow, Pres. Citizens for Detroit’s Future

This note is intended to update YOU on the progress of the Citizens for Detroit’s Future (CFDF) election reform Initiative.  First, we thank you for sharing our information and will continue to endeavor to keep you informed.

As president of CFDF, on Monday  I attended the full Detroit City Council meeting where the Detroit Election Commission issued its “Report” that the CFDF petition had been successful in gathering sufficient signatures to trigger Section 12-107 of the Charter.  This section covers the procedure to enact Ordinances by residents which have grown from a citizen’s Initiative.

Following the charter’s procedure in Section 12-107, the Council voted unanimously to both receive the Report and refer it and the Petition to the Council’s “Internal Operations Committee” (IOC).  The IOC handles such matters and is a necessary proper step as part Section 12-107.  While we have not seen the Report, it would seem that it should be dated May 28th which is what we have.  Based on that date, Council would have 60 days to vote to enact the Ordinance.

Free and fair elections in Detroit!

Free and fair elections in Detroit!

Following the process, CFDF learned that the IOC committee is headed by Council Member Andre Spivey and includes Council Members George Cushingberry and Janeé Ayers.  Council President Brenda Jones is an Ex-Officio member.  The IOC  WILL meet this morning at 10am on the 13th Floor of the Coleman A Young Building.  It is open to the public.

The Committee is expected to discuss the CFDF Initiative but it remains unclear what to expect.  The IOC has at least two options: 1) it could immediately report back to the full council with a recommendation to enact; 2) or it could set a date for a formal public hearing.   As president of CFDF,  I will attend the meeting and make myself available to Committee Members to answer questions and meet with folks who also attend.

Yours for a Better Detroit,


On Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/106047192879983/

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Jackson obituary_0001Cops are Richard Billingslea, Steven Fultz, Hakeem Patterson

Driver of car, Lorenzo Harris, faces exam on multiple felony charges

His parole was for possession of ecstasy, served 7 yrs.

Family members, neighbors say cops should be charged as well

#PoliceBrutality,  #StopPoliceChases   #JusticeforMakiahMichaelangelo, #policeviolence#blacklivesmatter, #blacklivesmatterDetroit, #policechase,  #pursuit#saveourchildren, #thisstopstoday , #MMCare, #Beatbackthebullies

By Diane Bukowski

July 12, 2015

Hakeem Patterson, one of three cops in car that allegedly hit Lorenzo Harris' car in high-speed chase, killing the Jackson children June 24, 2015. Facebook (photos of others were not available).

Hakeem Patterson, one of three cops in car that allegedly hit Lorenzo Harris’ car in high-speed chase, killing the Jackson children June 24, 2015. Facebook (photos of others were not available).

DETROIT – The three cops alleged to have bumped the car that hit and killed two young children, Makiah and Michaelangelo Jackson, 3 and 6 respectively, on June 24, are scheduled to testify against the driver of the Camaro, Lorenzo Harris, in court Mon. July 13, 2015, according to an article in the Detroit News.

The cops are Richard Billingslea, Steven Fultz, and Hakeem Patterson. They will appear in the courtroom of Judge Shannon Holmes in the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice at 1:30 p.m. to testify at the preliminary examination of the car’s driver, Lorenzo Harris.

“[The police] were right on their rear, the police car bumped their tail a little bit, and the car flew up in the air,” a direct eyewitness standing with Makiah at the time told VOD during a community vigil June 26. “There was no need for the police to be that close. I yelled ‘WATCH OUT’ but it was too late. When the car hit them, both of them just looked at me. They screamed. It just keeps re-playing in my head.”

Lorenzo Harris in court July 6, 2015.

Lorenzo Harris in court July 6, 2015.

The police appeared to have used an official maneuver called a “Precision Immobiliation Technique,” or PIT. Subsequently, Detroit Police Chief James Craig reported that the dashboard camera in the police car was mysteriously not operable, even though the cops were “Special Ops,” and that police were not able to find a gun they claimed they saw in the car being chased.

Several others at the vigil confirmed the original witness’s statement. They added that the car then hit the light pole at the corner of Nottingham and Frankfort and careened down the next block, hitting and seriously injuring Darius Andrews, Jr. 3, Isaiah Williams, 5, and Zyaire Gardner, 7.  Neighbors said the cops were still in close pursuit.

“I feel that if they had anything to do with it, they should be held just as responsible as the driver,” said Ronald Antczak, fiancé of the children’s grandmother Nicole Jackson.

Denice Hill, a cousin of Zyaire Gardner and relative to the other injured children, said after the Jackson children’s funeral, “The police should have got charged because they could have stopped the chase. There are nothing but a bunch of kids playing during the day all the way down Nottingham.”

Ronald Antczak, fiancé of Makiah’s grandmother Nicole, third from left, helps carry her little pink coffin out after funeral July 2, 2015.

She said that Zyaire remained hospitalized in Ann Arbor with collapsed lungs, on a ventilator, and was expected to remain there for at least three months.

“Somebody needs to ask the police why they lied about this and said they called off the chase,” another relative told VOD. “They want us to respect them, but they don’t respect us. They chase everybody.”

Maria Miller, Communications officer for Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, told VOD July 1, “We have not received anything from DPD regarding the officers; we are not conducting an investigation at this time. We have no further comments because there is a pending case against the driver of the car.”

Harris faces two counts of second-degree murder, three counts of failure to stop at the scene of an accident, unlawful driving away of a motor vehicle, carrying a concealed weapon (CCW), two felony firearms charges,  three counts of  Failure to Stop At Scene of a Serious personal Injury Accident and two counts of failure to stop at the scene when at fault, causing death, three counts of reckless driving causing serious bodily impairment, and two counts  of fleeing police officers, first degree.

Carrying out Michaelangelos

Carrying out Michaelangelo’s little blue coffin.

According to court records, Harris previously served seven years in prison for possession of the drug ecstasy, out of a 6 mo.—10 year sentence imposed in 2006.  He was paroled on Aug. 22, 2013, to end March 20, 2016.

In 2011, a federal judge ruled that sentencing for ecstasy-related crimes is based on “selective and incomplete” evidence and “that it punishes Ecstasy-related crimes far more harshly than is scientifically justified,” according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

Police in the June 24 chase, however, are heard on the audiotape published in the Detroit News article referring to a charge of carrying a concealed weapon (CCW), not ecstasy possession. (Hear audio below. Note police sirens are not heard until midway through the audio. Were they on at the beginning of chase to warn residents away?)

Harris completed three probation sentences for a variety of crimes in 2005 and 2006, and was found not guilty by a jury of carrying a concealed weapons and two other firearms charges, in 2008.

Mourners leave Mt. Zion

Mourners leave Burns Seventh Day Adventist Church.

During a somber, sorrowful funeral for Michaelangelo and Makiah Jackson July 2, a young woman sang “The Rose,” a heart-rending song whose lyrics are in the video at the end of this story, along with copies of the obituary. Bertha Matthews read some of numerous cards sent to the family, including a personal letter from Wayne County Commissioner Jewel Ware, and a card from DTE workers who evidently worked with one of the family members.

Weeping, a young man said, “Our lives are turned upside down. I was there with the witnesses. I had just had Michael on my lap before it happened, and a part of me got left with him. My little brother cracked up when he saw our babies yesterday. I love these kids, I wish it had been me instead.”

Mourners leave church after children's funeral July 2, 2015.

Mourners leave church after children’s funeral July 2, 2015.

Flowerbearers for Jackson children outside church.

Flowerbearers for Jackson children outside church.





(Click on Jackson children obituary.compressed for full PDF copy.)

Jackson obituary_0002Jackson obituary_0003Jackson obituary_0004Jackson obituary_0005Jackson obituary_0006Jackson obituary_0007Jackson obituary_0008

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Peoples Water Board coalition kicks off Detroit2Flint water march in downtown Detroit July 2, 2015.

Peoples Water Board coalition kicks off Detroit2Flint water justice march in downtown Detroit July 2, 2015. Photo: Valerie Jean, PWB Facebook

Great Lakes Water Authority plans to ‘down-size,’ permanently shut off water service to parts of Detroit and other majority-Black cities in Michigan

Master Plan: shutdown of Detroit’s Northeast plant, reduction of water intake  and booster sites, decreased infrastructure improvements

Banks get $5.7 B + while water rates, shut-offs, sinkholes increase

#OurWaterOurVote Coalition continues referendum campaign to shut down Great Lakes Water Authority

City Council likely to re-vote rate increases Tues. July 14

#WATERISLIFE #StandUpNow, @WeThePeopleDet, #OurWaterOurVote@Detroit2700plus, @DETWaterBrigade,  #DetroitWater, #Right2Water, #Detroit2Flint, @MCHumanRights, @PeoplesWaterDet, @ACLUofMichigan,  #‎noconsent, ‪#‎freetheirish5, ‪#‎neweradetroit, ‪#‎stopthewatershutoffs, ‪#‎nowaynopay

By Diane Bukowski

July 8, 2015

Water Works Park administration bldg. The WWP treatment plant will be the only DWSD fresh water treatment plant left in the city of Detroit if the GLWA shuts down its Northwest plant.

Water Works Park administration bldg. The WWP treatment plant will be the only DWSD fresh water treatment plant left in the city of Detroit if the GLWA shuts down its Northwest plant.

DETROIT – Permanent shut-0ffs and decreased water service to sectors of Detroit, the nation’s largest Black majority city, will likely result from a revised Master Plan laid out July 8 by representatives of the Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA), and the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD).

They met at the Water Works Park plant on E. Jefferson in Detroit.

The GLWA is slated to take over the DWSD six-county system, under terms of a contract signed by Detroit ‘Mayor’ Mike Duggan June 12, based on the city’s bankruptcy plan. It still needs to complete several requirements before a drop-dead date of Jan. 1, 2015.

Meanwhile, opponents of the GLWA takeover are conducting a city-wide referendum petition campaign known popularly as  #OurWaterOurVote to cancel the contract, as allowed under state law. (See link to earlier VOD story at bottom of article, plus links to petition, fliers, and instructions.)

Our Water Our Vote

Campaign sign for #OurWaterOurVote referendum campaign to shut down the Great Lakes Water Authority.

“What we’re talking about here today is a reduction in the size of this system,” Master Plan lead project manager Carl Johnson, of CDM-Smith, Inc., said during the GLWA-DWSD meeting, according to the Detroit News. “It also provides the opportunity to plan for if things change to where we can sell more water.”

Key aspects of the GLWA  20-year plan are:

  • A reduction from a $9 billion Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) through 2050 to a $2.9 billion CIP for the next 20 years. The plan says DWSD served 6 million people in 2004, but now has only 4 million customers.
  • The elimination of Genesee County, not just Flint, from the system, while holding open the possibility of attracting new customers.
  • A reduction in the system’s total daily pumping capacity from 1,760 million gallons to 1,040 million gallons.
  • Shutdowns or “repurposing” of  treatment plants and booster pumping stations, including Detroit’s Northeast Plant.
  • Rescission of planned upgrades for 14 sites, recommended by GLWA contractor Veolia, the world’s largest water privatizer.
  • Reduction of water intake sites from five to three.
  • Annual spending for water main renewal to drop to $25 million, allowing the replacement of only one percent of the lines per year.  This will particularly affect Detroit, which has the oldest infrastructure in the system. Sinkholes are popping up all over the city, caused by the collapse of underlying water mains.

(See GLWA power point presentation of Revised Master Plan at Water-Master-Plan-2015-07-08-BOWC-GLWA-Board-Workshop-Final.compressed).

Plans mapped out during the meeting coincide with those of Detroit Future City, which has published the following chart showing which areas of Detroit are planned to become virtual wastelands.

Detroit Future Cities 20-year plan for the City of Detroit.

Detroit Future Cities 20-year plan for the City of Detroit. Note large areas in tan, meant for “replacing, repurposing, or decommissioning.”  Areas in light blue are set for “reduce and maintain.”

Bill Davis retired from DWSD as a shift supervisor after 34 years, and is President of the Detroit Active and Retired Employees Association (DAREA). DAREA has appealed the bankruptcy plan to U.S. District Court and is spearheading the coalition of groups conducting the #OurWaterOurVote referendum campaign.

“It appears to me that the GLWA in conjunction with our ‘Mayor’ and Gov. Rick Snyder are deliberately attempting to destabilize the Black community of Detroit,” Davis said.

He said that $537 million in illegal DWSD swaps deals with the banks should have been applied to improving DWSD’s infrastructure, rather than downsizing it. DWSD’s debt to the banks has now increased to $5.7 billion. Earlier, the Board of Water Commissioners deep-sixed a bankruptcy proposal to cut $2.3 billion of DWSD’s total debt. Wall Street ratings agencies strenuously objected to the cut.

DAREA Pres. Bill Davis carries banner at tax foreclosure protest June 8, 2015.

DAREA Pres. Bill Davis at tax foreclosure protest June 8, 2015.

“Under the revised Master Plan, pumping facilities are being moved farther out in favor of the outlying areas, taking jobs and economic development with them,” Davis explained.

“Why would they shut down one of the only two freshwater pumping facilities in Detroit, the Northeast plant, instead of considering the Southwest plant in Allen Park, which is only a short ways downriver from the Wastewater Treatment Plant?”

He noted that DWSD remains responsible under the GLWA for the cost of maintaining its own water mains, linked to the rest of the system.

“Detroit’s system is likely to collapse from providing a greater capacity for outlying customers,” he said. “It would only make sense that they contribute to maintaining Detroit’s infrastructure.”

Sinkholes in Detroit increasing due to breakdown of water infrastructure.

Sinkholes in Detroit increasing due to breakdown of water infrastructure.

Sinkholes caused by collapsing water mains are already rapidly increasing due to the lack of investment in DSWD’s infrastructure, linked to the high cost of contracts and bank bonds.

Davis noted that Flint’s former Emergency Manager Darnell Earley, appointed by Snyder, took the majority-Black city of Flint out of the DWSD system. The revised Master Plan completely eliminates the whole of Genesee County, where Flint is located, from the system effective Jan. 2017.

“At least half of the ‘$27 million hole’ in the DWSD budget is created by the Flint withdrawal,” Davis went on. “The new Flint system has doled out more contracts to Snyder’s friends, and kickbacks to its operators. The system is so horrible that General Motors plants in Flint had to disconnect from it because the water was corroding their parts, and Flint residents are complaining as well.”

Gary Brown, vice-chair of GLWA, at GLWA meeting June 12, 2015 where DWSD takeover contract was signed.

Gary Brown, vice-chair of GLWA, at GLWA meeting June 12, 2015 where DWSD takeover contract was signed.

GLWA vice-chair Gary Brown, also Duggan’s Chief Operating Officer (COO),  is citing the alleged “$27 million hole” in the DWSD budget in his attack on the June 30 City Council vote of 6-2 against water rate increases.

Brown said the Council’s original “No” vote makes Wall Street nervous. Fifty-one percent of DWSD bondholders must approve the GLWA takeover, and at least one Wall Street ratings agency must guarantee that ratings of GLWA bonds will be no lower than current DWSD ratings.

Along with the editorial boards of the Detroit News and Free Press, the state is also bringing pressure to bear.

State Treasurer Nick Khouri, who heads the state-appointed Financial Review Commission (FRC), said in a letter to the Council the FRC is “statutorily required to provide oversight” of the city’s finances and demanded “the necessary information to demonstrate the city’s plan to comply with the approved budget … or the basis upon which the city will seek an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2016 budget.”

The Council subsequently voted 8-1 to “revisit” the rate increases. It has held two subcommittee meetings this week, and is likely to take a re-vote on the rate increases at its next Committee of the Whole session Tues. July 14.

Council President Brenda Jones endorses GLWA plan during bankruptcy press conference, with Mayor Mike Duggan at right.

Council President Brenda Jones endorses Detroit’s 10-pt. Water Fund plan, which is NOT a water affordability plan, during press conference, with Mayor Mike Duggan at right. She also signed off on the bankruptcy Plan of Adjustment.

Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones voted against the rate increases June 30 and is pledging to do so again. However, she along with Duggan signed off on the Detroit bankruptcy Plan of Adjustment, under which the GLWA was created.

DWSD officials have complained for years that water consumption is rapidly decreasing. They refuse to acknowledge that unaffordable water bills, high shut-off rates, and massive tax and mortgage foreclosures have driven out hundreds of thousands of customers from Detroit and other poor cities.

Detroit Wastewater Treatment Plant worker during wildcat strike Sept. 30, 2012. EMA now runs the WWTP; 3 major sewage pumps are not working.

Detroit Wastewater Treatment Plant worker during wildcat strike Sept. 30, 2012. EMA, which recommended 81% workforce cut, now runs the WWTP; 3 major sewage pumps are not working. Ironically, AFSCME Co. 25 Asst. Director Ed McNeil, who along with 2 other AFSCME officials sabotaged the strike, spoke at PWB Detroit2Flint rally shown at top of story.

“When you get your water cut off and they say ‘You have to pay $1,700′ and you tell them you don’t have any money, what are you going to do but move?” attorney Alice Jennings told the magazine Mother Jones this month.

The GLWA plans complement massive lay-offs that have already occurred in DWSD, under a recommendation from consultant EMA in 2013 that 81 percent of the system’s workforce be cut.

DWSD workers and retirees have said the cuts resulted in the “near catastrophic” failure of three of the Detroit Wastewater Treatment Plant’s major sewage pumps. That resulted in the massive flooding of metro Detroit freeways and homes in Aug. 2014, as well as the Toledo, Ohio/southeast Michigan water emergency that month, during which 430,000 residents could not use contaminated municipal water to drink, bathe, cook, or wash dishes.

“I anticipate from this new unholy alliance that the people of Detroit will have more flooded basements, streets and freeways,” Davis said.

Crosman Elementary School's flooded basement in Detroit, August, 2014.

Crosman Elementary School’s flooded basement in Detroit, August, 2014.


Also read Mother Jones article, “How Motor City Came Back From the Brink and Left Most Detroiters Behind” at http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/06/motor-city-after-bankruptcy-and-detroiters-left-behind





Click on BLOW THE GREAT LAKES WATER AUTHORITY OUT OF THE WATER 3 for PDF of front of flier; PDF of Instructions for Circulation is at INSTRUCTIONS FOR CIRCULATING (includes contact information to obtain petitions and turn them in.)

The Coalition needs to collect a total of 15,000 valid petition signatures within 45 days of public (newspaper) notice of the contract, meaning it must collect at least twice that to allow for invalid signatures. Signers must be Detroit residents who are registered voters. CIRCULATORS DO NOT HAVE TO BE DETROIT  RESIDENTS.

The Coalition’s Facebook Page is at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Coalition-to-Save-Detroits-Water-Sewerage-Department/1443509195955743?fref=ts


  • Meetings of DAREA, 3rd Monday (next July 20) at 11 a.m. at Nandi’s Knowledge Café at 12511 Woodward, Highland Park; 1st Wednesday at 5:30 pm, St. Matthew and St. Joseph Church at Woodward and Holbrook.
  • Weekly meetings of Moratorium NOW! Mondays at 7 pm, 5920 Second at Antoinette, s. of W. Grand Blvd.

Other related articles:








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Kid Rock gets award from Rev. Wendell Anthony, head of Detroit NAACP, during Freedom Fund dinner. Anthony also sits on the board of the Detroit General Retirement System, and remarked at its meeting Wed. July 8 that Greece needs an Emergency Manager!

Kid Rock gets award from Rev. Wendell Anthony, head of Detroit NAACP, during Freedom Fund dinner. Anthony also sits on the board of the Detroit General Retirement System, and remarked at its meeting Wed. July 8 that Greece needs an Emergency Manager!

Adaj Parr

Why are you a member of the Detroit NAACP…? (Facebook page)

July 11, 2015

Kid Rock making cozy with Wendell Anthony and former Mayor Dave Bing.

Kid Rock making cozy with Wendell Anthony and former Mayor Dave Bing.

DETROIT— Let’s be clear, when Kid Rock speaks on matters of social issues he speaks for all those who support him. That includes organizations that have honored him. The Detroit Branch NAACP led by Wendell Anthony honored Kid Rock.

Kid Rock told Rev. Charlies Williams II and Rev. Al Sharpton both who represent the National Action Network (NAN), and Sam Riddle, to KISS HIS ASS!

Kid Rocks speaks for Wendell and the Detroit Branch NAACP. Kid Rock supports waving the Confederate Flag and all that it stands for. Wendell Anthony and the Detroit Branch NAACP support Kid Rock!

Kid Rock, Wendell Anthony

Kid Rock, Wendell Anthony

VOD: Mr. Parr asked Rev. Charles Williams in an earlier post: what are you going to do about it? That question should also be put to NAN’s national head the Rev. Al Sharpton.


The MLIVE story below includes clips from the racist national coverage supporting Kid Rock, e.g. comments about how much Kid Rock has allegedly done for Detroit, and who the real villains in Detroit are: the city’s Black leadership for the past 30 years. http://www.mlive.com/entertainment/detroit/index.ssf/2015/07/kid_rock_tells_people_boycotti.html

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