Saturday, June 16, 2018

Direct Action Updates

Michigan Poor People’s Campaign
Direct Action Updates

During the 40 Days of Action for the Poor People's Campaign, dozens of Michigan residents trained in two-days of non-violent, direct action training. They pledged to take a stand against poverty, injustice, systemic racism, and a variety of harmful actions by governments and corporations. Faith leaders from across the state joined grassroots groups, union members, parents and children, and people from all walks of life in our Great Lakes state to march for justice and demand change and accountability from elected officials and business leaders. To make our calls for action loud and clear, 105 Michigan residents were arrested over six weeks of justice-seeking, non-violent direct action in Lansing and Detroit.

Here is the weekly breakdown:

May 14: SOMEBODY’S HURTING OUR PEOPLE: Children, Women, and People with Disabilities in Poverty, LGBTQIA+

On May 14, following the rally at the Capital, we took to the streets. Around the country, at 3pm in close to 40 states, we blockaded the streets in front of our Capitals shutting down business as usual. In Michigan, we had over 40 people risking arrest that included rabbis, pastors, priests, an imam, and religious sisters. As those risking initially held the street, it liberated the space for hundreds to step in singing, chanting, and dancing. With a powerful spirit, we held the space on a hot, humid day for three hours. We declared victory.

No arrests made.

May 21: LINKING SYSTEMIC RACISM AND POVERTY: Voting Rights, Immigration, Xenophobia, Islamophobia, and the Mistreatment of Indigenous Communities

On May 21, following a rally at both the Capital and in a nearby park, we marched to the Department of Health and Human services. Twenty activists went to the front door and blocked the main entrance to the building. When it became clear, that the building and police were more than fine to use different entrances to the building, the group split into affinity groups and shut down two additional entrances. Eventually, 16 people were able to move inside the building and were immediately told they were under arrest.

They were bonded out at $300 a person and charged with the misdemeanor of trespassing.

16 people arrested.

May 29: THE WAR ECONOMY: Militarism and the Proliferation of Gun Violence

On May 29, following the rally at the Capital, those risking arrest moved to the grassy lawn and planted crosses creating a cemetery to commemorate all the death as a result of our military spending. Hundreds then went inside the Capital and walked right into the balcony of the House in session. We were given rules that we were required to sit and be quiet. Those risking arrest stood up and began to read out the ways the military spending affects Michigan. Then they began to sing “Somebodies hurting my children, and we won’t be silent anymore.” They were joined by over 100 PPC activists also in the balcony. After singing and chanting, the House shut down for the day. We moved to the Rotunda where those risking arrest did a die in while the rest of us sang. At 5:30pm, when the building was closed, the police made arrests.

They were given citations with a promise to appear and charged with the misdemeanor of trespassing.

19 people were arrested.

June 4: THE RIGHT TO HEALTH AND A HEALTHY PLANET: Ecological Devastation and Health Care

On June 4, following the rally at the Capital, we marched to the Department of Environmental Quality. Those risking arrest blocked the doors to the North, South, East and West. At each side, we named the crimes. To the North- the M5 Pipeline. To the West- Nestle’s pumping of water. To the South- the Detroit water shut offs. To the East- the poisoning of Flint’s water. The crimes went on and on. People were being ushered out of the building through a small door in the loading docks, so some folks risking arrest moved to this fifth and final exit of the building. Police physically held them a couple feet from the door in order to get workers out of the building. At 4:55pm, folks moved to block the parking lot next door on both sides. They were immediately arrested.

They were given citations with a promise to appear and charged with the misdemeanor attempting to resist and obstruct.

30 people were arrested.

June 11: EVERYBODY’S GOT THE RIGHT TO LIVE: Education, Living Wage Jobs, Income, Housing

On June 11, following a rally at the Treasury which called attention to their control of our school systems, we marched to MI State Housing Development Authority. With the support of pressure from the Poor People’s Campaign, Moratorium Now! was granted a meeting inside. Almost 50 people, a large showing from D15, sat in front of the entrance and were quickly told they would be arrested.

They were given citations with a promise to appear and charged with the misdemeanor of trespassing.

17 people were arrested.

June 18: A NEW AND UNSETTLING FORCE: Confronting the Distorted Moral Narrative

23 people were arrested -- this makes a total of 105 arrests during 40 Days of Action in Michigan.

We'll report soon on upcoming events and activities in the post-40 Days of Action!