By Fred Vitale
The struggle against the Emergency Managers imposed on the City of Detroit and the Detroit Public School system began in earnest at the end of March when the new Emergency Manager Law, Public Act 436, went into effect. At that time Roy Roberts was re-appointed with full powers of Emergency Manager over the Detroit public school system and Kevyn Orr assumed the Emergency Manager position over the city of Detroit.
There have been dozens of public events held across the city against the appointment of the Emergency Manager by Gov. Snyder. There have been actions like the “Motown Slowdown,” where cars driven by activists have intentionally slowed traffic on Detroit’s major freeways. The actions included hanging banners on overpasses explaining why traffic has been slowed. Detroit police have stopped and ticketed some drivers engaging in the action. When the Detroit City Council, recently gutted of all legal rights, went through the charade of discussing the Jones-Day contract, two Detroiters were arrestedfor protesting the symbolic vote favoring the contract.
A support rally for the two arrested activists was held on the international workers holiday, May 1, in front of the 36th District Court. Banners and signs were prepared by the art group within a larger coalition of anti-EM activists, meeting weekly at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church on Michigan and Trumbull.
The Michigan Citizen, the weekly newspaper of progressive thought in Detroit, has published many articles, editorials and guest columns, detailing the lack of democracy, financial scandals, and other sordid affairs associated with the Emergency Managers the legislation granting them power.
There have been hundreds of postings on Facebook against the Emergency Manager. Messages of support in and through many different media have appeared from all over the country in support of the struggle against Emergency Managers in Detroit and indeed throughout Michigan.
The group meeting at St. Peter’s is mounting a neighborhood-by-neighborhood political education campaign around the Emergency Manager. The fight against the EM links together many fronts of struggle since they often and quickly implement policies opposed to the interest of the majority. Issues like saving our students, teachers and schools; putting homeless mothers and children into sanitary and safe homes; nurturing food security; stopping police brutality and so on now have the EM as their central figure.
We have already seen hundreds of low income residents displaced from the Cass Corridor so greedy land speculators and others of their ilk can make windfall profits while retired workers and pensioners are thrown into the streets. This is part of the plan of the Emergency Manager: putting into action many of the anti-community pro-developer plans of Mayor Bing and the majority on City Council.
Many organizations see the need to go to the neighborhoods and engage our fellow citizens in some serious political dialogue and education around the profound changes taking place in our world. We need to discuss how they affect Detroiters. We need to explore and develop the people-based alternatives to these evil corporate designs.
In addition to reaching into the neighborhoods for dialogue, the bus will have organizing tools and useful information for Detroiters on everything from foreclosures to welfare issues. It will also encourage some fun with music, poetry and healthy snacks.
For more information on the bus campaign or the broader struggles against Detroit’s Emergency Managers, readers are encouraged to stop by the weekly meetings at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Trumbull, Wednesdays at 4pm. 555 Gallery has been gracious enough to aid with painting and storing the bus while it’s prepared for the summer ahead, which is located at 2801 West Vernor Highway.