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Rob Zerban Economic and Social Justice Hundreds Turn Out To Protest Detroit Water Shutoffs
Friday, 18 July 2014 20:33

Hundreds Turn Out To Protest Detroit Water Shutoffs

Written by  CBS News and Associated Press | CBS Detroit
Actor Mark Ruffalo appears in a crowd at a protest in Detroit. Actor Mark Ruffalo appears in a crowd at a protest in Detroit. Sandra McNeil/WWJ)

As many as one thousand people showed up outside Cobo Center in downtown Detroit Friday, calling for an immediate moratorium on service shutoffs by the city’s water department.

Among them was “Avengers” actor Mark Ruffalo, who appeared unexpectedly, calling on others to join the demonstration.

The group, Friday afternoon, marched from Cobo to Hart Plaza for a rally that WWJ Newsradio 950′s Sandra McNeil reported was the largest such event she’s covered in the city.

Asked why he joined the rally, Ruffalo told McNeil that the American people need to know about these water shutoffs.

“I’m here to shed a little light on what’s happening — the travesty that’s happening here in Detroit with these people’s water,” Ruffalo said. “It’s an absolute travesty; you’d think we were  living in a third world nation.”

“We’re happy to send money all over the world to help other people in their crisis,” Ruffalo added,”and we can’t take care of our own people.”

Also appearing at the rally were UAW President Dennis Williams and Congressman John Conyers.

“Water should be available to everybody,” Conyers said. “It shouldn’t be something that only people who can afford it can get.”

The demonstration was organized by the group National Nurses United, which claims the shutoffs pose a public health emergency. The group’s co-president, Jean Ross, called the shutoffs an “attack on the basic human right of access to safe, clean water.”

“What’s happening here is inhumane,” Ross told WWJ’s Charlie Langton. “We know that you need water to sustain yourself and no one, no one should shut off the water to the people.”

Ross believes the water shutoffs go deeper than just trying to recoup some funds for the city.

“They’re preying on people who can’t afford it, to have to choose between their medications and food, their rent or mortgage payment and now water,” she said. “It’s an engineered disaster and it’s all geared toward privatizing what should be a basic human right for everybody.”

Ross said the situation is far more serious that it looks at a glance.

“This is about bringing people down to a level where they can’t survive, and doing things that are more heinous even – taking the people whose water has been turned off and taking those children in those environments away from their families,” she said.

The Detroit Department of Water and Sewerage stepped up the shutoffs in March to collect some of the nearly $90 million owed by residents, businesses and other customers with past-due accounts. Through June, more than $43 million was owed on over 80,000 city residential accounts.

The department has reported about 17,000 customers are on payment plans, and officials try to work with those customers. The utility estimates about 90,000 active customers in are delinquent on their bills.

Asked why he joined the rally, Ruffalo told McNeil that the American people need to know about these water shutoffs.

“I’m here to shed a little light on what’s happening — the travesty that’s happening here in Detroit with these people’s water,” Ruffalo said. “It’s an absolute travesty; you’d think we were  living in a third world nation.”

“We’re happy to send money all over the world to help other people in their crisis,” Ruffalo added,”and we can’t take care of our own people.”

Also appearing at the rally were UAW President Dennis Williams and Congressman John Conyers.

Read complete article here from CBS Detroit


Read 2829 times Last modified on Friday, 18 July 2014 23:20

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