Forum Post: A National Call: Come to Detroit, Link Arms to Stop the Water Shut Offs and Fight for Democracy
Posted 9 months ago on July 15, 2014, 11:11 p.m. EST by LeoYo
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A National Call: Come to Detroit, Link Arms to Stop the Water Shut Offs and Fight for Democracy
Tuesday, 15 July 2014 13:14
By Ben Ptashnik, Truthout | Op-Ed
After thousands have had their water shut off in Detroit, people plan to converge downtown in the city to protest the human rights violation, demand democracy and inveigh against the privatization that has ensued since the Wall Street-engineered financial crisis.
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 in downtown Detroit to protest the privatization of the city's assets, and the disconnection of water to tens of thousands of low-income residents - what the UN has called a human rights violation. Demonstrators from around the country will come to rally in Hart Plaza at 1 PM to link arms with the citizens of Detroit to protest the hostile corporate takeover by Wall Street banks and their radical ALEC-led political allies in the Michigan Statehouse.
The activist community of Detroit put out this call for help:
We call on activists everywhere to come to Detroit on Friday, July 18 for a rally and march to fight the dictatorship of Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, appointed by millionaire Republican Governor Rick Snyder, and backed by Wall Street bankers and the 1%. Under a state-imposed bankruptcy, the City of Detroit workers face severe cuts to their pensions and tens of thousand people face water shut-offs.
The banks who have destroyed Detroit's neighborhoods through racist predatory subprime mortgages and saddled the city of Detroit with fraudulent subprime financing continue to loot the people of Detroit.
Detroiters have lost their democratic rights - "elected" officials serve at the pleasure of the unelected Emergency Manager - and may be fired at any time.
- Detroit Moratorium Now and Freedom Fridays Coalition
On that very week, starting July 15, the Federal Bankruptcy Court in downtown Detroit will be holding hearings, and the people of Detroit will be speaking out against the emergency manager's economic "Plan of Adjustment."
The people of Detroit - 83 percent African-American - know that their crisis was fabricated to force bankruptcy and corporate "emergency management." In 2012, they fought to get a public initiative on the Michigan ballot, and then overwhelmingly defeated Public Act 4, the anti-democratic law that granted the emergency manager complete authority over local officials, the power to nullify public rulings and bodies, and to abrogate collective bargaining contracts.
But so intent was the right-wing legislature and Governor Snyder to subvert the will of the people that in a lame duck session immediately following the referendum, the legislature issued a newer version of the law, Public Act 436, which they attached to an appropriation bill - a parliamentary trick that eliminated the possibility of another referendum.
The suspension of democratic government that is embedded in PA 436 enabled a "hostile takeover" of Detroit that facilitates the financial industry's ongoing brutal attack on the working poor, city workers and the elderly. Many Detroiters believe that the aggressive foreclosures and water shut-offs are a deliberate scheme to shock the population, drive long-time residents out of the city center, seize property and gentrify downtown Detroit and the waterfront. This game plan was already perpetrated in Benton Harbor, Michigan, when that city was forced into emergency management. Corporate vultures have already begun grabbing chunks of Benton Harbor's waterfront.
Detroit was no more "bankrupt" than many American cities suffering post-2008 losses of their real estate tax base, a crisis caused directly by Wall Street's derivatives "bubble" and real estate manipulations. However, Motor City was particularly devastated by the banks' subprime mortgage schemes, which targeted African-Americans who the banks knew could not afford the loans they promoted. Detroit had the largest percentage of subprime victims per capita of any city in the United States. Foreclosures in the city now continue at one of the highest rates in the country, according to a Haas Institute report.
The 2008 Ponzi scheme market collapse also led to $1.5 billion in budget-fix loans foisted on the city by a bank consortium led by Bank of America, loans connected to the LIBOR interest rate manipulation crimes, for which the banks were indicted and fined. According to Bloomberg News, these faulty loans were coupled with unnecessary default insurance schemes sold by disreputable brokers to a corrupt Detroit mayor, who saddled the city with over $474 million in unnecessary default swap costs. The mayor was later convicted and jailed on charges of racketeering and bribery.
But the banks were given a free ride. Many cities with almost the same financial red ink as Detroit - cities like Chicago, for example - renegotiated bad loans with help from their state capitals. But Michigan's state government and the banks are holding Detroit hostage. After the takeover of Michigan’s legislature by the right-wing in 2010, and the election of Tea Party darling Governor Snyder, the Republican legislature manipulated the business taxes so that the state lost over a billion dollars in revenue in 2013 alone, and backed out of previously allocated revenue-sharing funds to the city.
Then, in a prime example of a "cure seeking a disease," long-term solvency of the city pension obligations was deliberately confused with short-term cash flow to accentuate the appearance of a financial crisis, according to Tom Barrow, mayoral candidate, CPA and former head of the Michigan Licensing Board of Accountancy.