Spring has finally sprung in Detroit and the seeds of mutual aid are blossoming into hardened stalks of sunflower fields.
Another May Day has come and gone, but something very special happened this year: fearless spontaneity was the order of the day, not a sterile march from one location to another. Traffic was shut down at the intersection of Jefferson and Woodward by protesters who had had enough. People took to the streets and stood by their convictions – and each other. Inside the Book Westin Cadillac hotel where Kevyn Orr is staying, protesters shouted ‘Show Orr the door!’ while hotel security scrambled to deal with these unexpected visitors. These kinds of forceful, disruptive actions make our enemies sweat, and not because they’re afraid of potential damages.
Stronger ties within the activist community emboldens us take risks and stick out our necks. That level of trust doesn’t just happen: getting to know and looking out for one another is how it’s developed. Many activists have been stalked by the police, jailed, harassed by their friends and family members, or ridiculed by so-called ‘allies’, just for taking a stand on their beliefs. The strength of our community entirely depends on the strength of the individuals that comprise it.
More and more we’re learning that if we’re going to take on the juggernaut of corporate power barreling through our neighborhoods and city hall, we’ll need to look out for one another both on and off the streets. ‘Solidarity’ is more than just a hollow platitude. Industrial Workers of the World, a fighting union that organized to bring about the eight-hour work day in this country and is still active with organizing campaigns at chains like Jimmy John’s and Starbucks, said it best: “An injury to one is an injury to all.” That spirit that tied the labor movement together should be our guide. 150,000 households in Detroit are facing water service shutoffs. These aren’t abstract figures in far off places. These are our neighbors, family, friends, acquaintances and everything in-between. Their fight is our fight and we need to have their backs. The long winter gave us time to reflect and now it’s time to take action, like what transpired on May Day.
Heed this call, all people sitting at the sidelines angry about what’s going on: it’s time to put some skin in the game and start working to change things. Bring a friend and go to a protest, like the weekly Freedom Friday demonstrations taking place at the City of Detroit’s Water Board building every Friday at 4pm. Start discussions with your friends about issues that anger you. Who knows, you might end up with a new protest buddy. Even simple acts like writing letters to mainstream media or donating money to active organizations – like Detroiters Resisting Emergency Management or the Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands – can make a huge difference.
We’ve felt a deep loss over the last few months with the passing of a few of the movement’s elders. It’s sad, tragic, enraging and devastating losing them. Rest in Power Rakiba Brown, Jerome Jackson and General Baker. There’s no better way to honor their memory than to keep fighting, keep agitating, and, most importantly, cherish our sisters and brothers that stand beside us.
Much love, respect, and solidarity,
The Critical Moment Collective