Detroit, Flint — Water is a Human Right

January 25, 2016

From the January-February 2016 issue of News and Letters

Detroit—In November I attended 36th District Court here in support of the Homrich 9. Homrich contracts with the city of Detroit to shut off water to people with overdue bills. The protestors were arrested last June for stopping the Homrich trucks. The attorneys for Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (aka “the looters”) objected to nearly everything the defendants raised. The looters’ attorneys objected to the language in the ordinance the defendants are accused of violating: the definition of neighborhood. Since the Homrich trucks were in an industrial zone where there are no residents, the attorneys for the shutoffs argued that the defendants disturbed the peace in a neighborhood, by the definition that did not require that people live there.

Further, the attorneys for fancy Washington D.C. law firm Jones Day/Duggan/Snyder (not to be confused with our city), also argued against the defendants using the following words in their testimony: Emergency Manager, Water is a Human Right, Water Affordability Plan, Water is a Right. The judge continuously addressed the looters’ mouthpieces’ objections by reminding them that this was only opening arguments.

They also argued against allowing jurors to see the Fox 2 news coverage of the demonstrations of the day of the arrest when thousands of people marched against the shutoffs, including The Hulk. You know things have gone sideways when the prosecutors don’t want to allow Fox 2 footage.

Bill Wylie-Kellermann represented himself brilliantly. John Royal represented Marian Kramer brilliantly.


Lines are more clear than ever. The city’s attorney Butch Hollowell appeared briefly in court with the looters’ lawyers. There was a whole row of them. Our side is poor but on the side of righteousness. Who can shut off peoples’ water and show their faces in public? Remember that Duggan is the Democrats’ candidate for governor. Remember that Butch Hollowell is general counsel to the NAACP and also for the city of Detroit, now.

Governor Snyder’s actions towards Black majority cities: Flint, Benton Harbor, Muskegon Heights, Highland Park, Pontiac and Detroit should let us know that not only does he believe we don’t deserve water, we don’t deserve schools or the right to have an elected school board to make important decisions like the white districts get. Remember the atrocities committed against Detroit by Republicans and Democrats and who is complicit in these acts.

—Elena Herrada


Flint water poisons children

Flint, Mich.—The City of Flint reattached its water supply system to the Detroit system in October. However, lead levels remain high, because of the effect of huge amounts of chlorine on pipes connected with lead solder. When the City of Flint drew water from the Flint River, it used eight times as much chlorine as was present in water from the Detroit system. The new mayor, Karen Weaver, declared a state of emergency because of lead levels in the blood of Flint children, and she is trying to get the federal government to also declare a state of emergency. The Federal Emergency Management Administration has already delivered 28,000 liters of water to Flint.

Water from Flint tap.

According to a study released in September, the proportion of infants and children with above-average levels of lead in their blood nearly doubled after Flint began drawing water from the Flint River. Excessive lead in the blood can lead to brain damage, hypertension, anemia, kidney impairment and other health problems later in life. Flint residents are furious!

Estimates range from a few million dollars to $1.5 billion for the cost of replacing the lead leaching pipes which probably have been damaged beyond repair by the corrosive Flint River water that went through them for a year and a half.

An internal e-mail by Michigan Gov. Snyder’s former chief of staff suggests that the governor was aware of the lead problem at least six months ago while the Department of Environmental Quality was telling Flint residents that the water was safe.

—Dan B.

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