We've been powerful witnesses in opposition to Bush's proposed war on Iraq,but let us not ignore the war that is already raging in our own city ofDetroit...the War on the Poor! Over 40,000 of our sisters and brothers havebeen trying to live without heat, electricity and water since the cut-offsbegan a few months ago.
We cannot stand back and let
this happen without joining the struggle to
insist on a moratorium of such life-threatening cut-offs!
We Raging Grannies will join the protest organized by the Michigan WelfareRights Organization next Monday, February 3 from 12-1 PM in front of theWater Board Building at 735 Randolph Street, between Fort and Lafayette,just north of Cadillac Square.
Please join us to RAGE about
this unjust War on the Poor! New songs
appropriate to this struggle will be provided, but bring your songbooks
Here's what the Michigan Citizen printed on last week's action:
DETROIT. Shouting "No Water, No Peace," hundreds marched on the headquartersof Detroit's water department Jan. 20, to coincide with the Martin LutherKing Jr. national holiday.
Bus drivers and other passersby
honked their horns and cheered as a
block-long parade of protesters demanded the department turn the water backon for 40,752 homes, and halt imminent shutoffs for another 8,400.
The Michigan Welfare Rights Organization called the demonstration the firstof three "Resurrection Mondays."
Two more protests are planned at noon on Jan. 27 and Feb. 3.
From Public Citizen Critical Mass Energy Project / Intl. Water Working
Questions: Sara Grusky, firstname.lastname@example.org
ACTION ALERT! ACTION ALERT! ACTION ALERT!
Detroit Residents Cut-off from Heat, Water and Lights!
Please call or fax the Chief Executive Officer of DTE Energy, and the Mayorof Detroit to demand a moratorium on the cut-offs. (See contact informationbelow)
Background: In the last several months thousands of Detroit residents havehad their utilities cut! Hundreds have marched in front of the DTE Energybuilding demanding a moratorium on the cut-offs. More marches areplanned in January.
Seniors, those with disabilities, women with young children, ex-welfare recipients and many others struggling for their livelihoods face the lack of heat, water and lights. "The average salary is less than $7.50 an hour," said MaureenTaylor of the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization. "Youcan be working fulltime and you're still poor. I get 20 to 30 calls a dayfrom seniors, women and single men, and from those disabled physically andemotionally [whose utilities are being shut off]."
While many Detroit residents are facing the holidays without adequate heator water, the CEO of DTE Energy, Anthony F. Earley, Jr., sits warm and cozyhaving earned more than $3.3 million in salary, cash bonus, cash stockawards, stock inventory payouts and other cash compensation in the lastyear alone.
The new director of Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD), VictorMercado, introduced an aggressive plan of debt collection with subsequentdisconnection of services if residents are unable to pay the charges.Michigan Citizen News Service reported that DWSD workers cemented the areasaround the shut-off valves to prevent residents from turning their waterback on.
In November, the same month that DWSD decided to cement shut the watervalves, the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rightsadopted a new amendment on water stating that: "The human right to drinkingwater is fundamental for life and health. Sufficient and safedrinking water is a precondition for the realization of all human rights." The new "aggressive" debt collection policies of DWSD defy United Nations standards. Detroit water rates rose 15 percent in 2002.
Making matters worse, the Family Independence Agency recently discontinueda program where a small percentage of grants were paid directly torecipients' utility charges. This has increased the vulnerability oflow-income families who rely on such grants. And, former welfare recipients are receiving bills from the utilities demanding payment in full for arrears due to DTE Energy that accumulated during the time the client'sbills should have been covered by the Welfare Department.
President Bush stands poised to exacerbate the crisis with his refusal to release $300 million in emergency federal funds to assist low-income consumers to pay their heating bills.
Figures cited by the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization state that 9,800Detroit residents lacked gas and electricity (as of August 1, 2002). 20,000residents were on probation and threatened with cut-offs. According toDWSD, between July 1, 2001 and June 30, 2002 there have been 40,752 watercut-offs in the Detroit area. The DWSD reported they have cut-off the water of 4,523 residences during the last 79 business days.
Call the CEO of DTE Energy
and the Mayor of Detroit today and demand a moratorium NOW on the heat,
water, and electricity cut-offs. STOP THE CUT-OFFS. Restore
heat and water to everyone! Access to heat and water is a human right!
Demand more state, federal and city funds to provide relief to low-income
DTE Energy, Chief Executive
Anthony F. Earley, Jr.
Phone: 313 235-4000 (stay on the line through the recording and then you will get a real person. Ask for Mr. Anthony F. Earley. It is likely that you will then be directed to his assistant, Bernadette Wilson.)
Detroit Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick
Coleman A. Young Municipal Center
2 Woodward Ave, Ste 1126
Detroit, MI 48226
Phone: 313 224-3450
Fax: 313 224-4128
Also, Michigan residents call your U.S. Congressional representatives and demand increased funds for energy assistance to low-income people. Demandfunds for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Bush has failed to release $300 million in emergency funds for LIHEAP.
U.S. Senator Carl Levin
477 Michigan Avenue, Suite 1860
Detroit, MI 48226-2594
U.S. Senator Debbie A. Stabenow
243 W.Congress, Suite 550
Detroit, MI 48226
U.S. Representative John Conyers,
669 Federal Building
231 W. Lafayette
Detroit, MI 48226
U.S. Representative Carolyn
1274 Library, Suite 1-B
Detroit, MI 48226
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