Monday, December 10, 2018

Recognizing Human Rights Day and Articles' Violations in Michigan


Today is International Human Rights Day. It marks the 70th anniversary of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UNDHR) -- a document that comprises 30 Articles that outline our inalienable rights for global freedom, justice and peace.

The Michigan Poor People’s Campaign (PPC) has organized several actions in recent months in defense of human rights to call attention to communities that are being harmed or endangered, and to address injustice at all levels of society.

In the last week, we've discussed the current jailing of two MI PPC activists who engaged in non-violent, civil protest at the MI Department of Health and Human Services on May 21, 2018: Rev. William (Bill) Wylie-Kellermann (of Detroit) and Thomas (Tommy) Tackett (of Jackson). The cold and uncomfortable conditions of their excessively unjust 12-day Ingham County jail sentence for a misdemeanor charge, are part of human rights violations taking place in our state.

There are three UNDHR Articles that speak to these issues. At the core, we are fighting to protect our loved ones. Article 25 encompasses our basic human rights, “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”

It is for these needs that the MI PPC directed political protest literally at the doors of the MI Department of Health and Human Services. This is the state agency that should be assuring the well-being of Michiganders but instead they contributed to the lead water poisoning of Flint residents; and are actively separating Detroit children from families whose water has been shutoff when they are unable to pay. Around the state, MDHHS has done little to alleviate poverty and hardship.

Each year it’s becoming more difficult for everyday residents to get their concerns and voices heard by elected representatives. Sometimes we're resigned to political protest to call for change. Article 20 iterates our right to gather, “Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.”

Yet, in Michigan peaceful political protest is often met with strong police state presence, heavy-handed officers and military-grade weaponry that threaten peaceful assembly. Often times our calls for change fall on deaf ears and some activists choose to put their bodies and freedom on the line. During the civil rights movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., called for people to fill the jails in protest.

To quell protest, some elected officials and courts push for maximum sentencing or additional fines and court costs. Article 21 notes that a heavier penalty should not be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed. Nonetheless, human rights activists are oftentimes burdened with unaffordable court costs, fines, fees, travel expenses, job constraints and lost wages.

Tell Michigan officials that its residents demand compliance with international human rights standards. Join us for two events this week:

  • Tue, Dec 11 at 6:30 pm - Candlelight Vigil at Ingham County Jail, 630 N. Cedar Rd, Mason, MI 48854.
Please take candles, dress for the cold weather, and show your support for Rev. Bill Wylie-Kellermann and Tommy Tackett!  Parking is available outside the Ingham County Jail and in surrounding lots at the County complex.

  • Wed, Dec 12 at 10:15 am - MI PPC Press Conference at Michigan Dept of Health and Human Services (DHHS), 235 S. Grand Ave, Lansing, MI 48933 With Rev. Wylie-Kellermann and Mr. Tackett.
Please arrive by 9:45 am. For this press conference we return to the DHHS in Lansing, where 16 MI PPC members were arrested on May 21, 2018, including the Rev. Bill Wylie-Kellermann and Tommy Tackett. Please dress warmly and take signs supporting them, along with speaking against the continued mistreatment and oppression of the poor by the MI DHHS across Michigan. Short-term metered, on-street parking is available, as well as in multiple garages and surface lots near the DHHS office: Lansing Parking Map Locations

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An update on jail conditions and financial burdens:
Rev. Wylie-Kellermann's wife and children have been in continual contact with him, especially to monitor his health conditions. They report that, as expected, jail conditions are challenging -- it is cold and the blankets are short and tattered; the lights never go completely out; and getting him his daily medications was delayed and worrisome. Additionally, they are allowed only one visit per week which has turned out to be over a video screen, and each phone call is a minimum of $15, run by private phone companies. They've had to pay into a commissary account just so that he can purchase (at high cost) paper, pens and peanuts. Both men will also be given a bill for $50 a day once they are released.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Calls to Action! Dec 11 (Mason), 6:30pm and Dec 12 (Lansing), 10am


December 8, 2018

Dear Michigan Poor People’s Campaign Community:

The Michigan Poor People’s Campaign (MI PPC) is mobilizing to support our members jailed on Monday, December 3rd, the Rev. William (Bill) Wylie-Kellermann (of Detroit) and Thomas (Tommy) Tackett (of Jackson), in the Ingham County Jail, Mason, Michigan. Their incarceration is related to the MI PPC actions at the MI Department of Health and Human Services on May 21, 2018.

We urge you to join us for the following actions:
  • Tue, Dec 11 at 6:30 pm - Candlelight vigil at Ingham County Jail, 630 N. Cedar Rd, Mason, MI 48854. Point person: Lydia Wylie-Kellermann, lydiaiwk@gmail.com
Please bring candles, dress for the cold weather, and show your support for Rev. Bill Wylie-Kellermann and Tommy Tackett!  Parking is available outside the Ingham County Jail and in surrounding lots at the County complex.
  • Wed. Dec. 12 at 6 a.m. Meet outside Ingham County Jail, 630 N. Cedar Rd, Mason, MI 48854. Point person: Lydia Wylie-Kellermann, lydiaiwk AT gmail.com.  Greet the Rev. Bill Wylie-Kellermann and Tommy Tackett to welcome their release and support their acts of conscience in submitting to the unfair and disproportionate sentencing for their participation in direct action on May 21, 2018.
  • Wed, Dec 12 at 10 am - MI PPC Press Conference at Michigan Dept of Health and Human Services (DHHS), 235 S. Grand Ave, Lansing, MI 48933. Point person: Sylvia Orduño, smorduno AT gmail.com Please arrive by 9:45am
For this press conference we return to the DHHS in Lansing, where 16 MI PPC members were arrested on May 21, 2018, including the Rev. Bill Wylie-Kellermann and Tommy Tackett. Please dress warm and bring signs supporting them and opposing the continued mistreatment and oppression of the poor by the MI DHHS in Detroit and across Michigan.

Short-term metered on-street parking is available, as well as in multiple garages and surface lots near the DHHS office:  Lansing Parking Map Locations



For more information about why the MI PPC took direct action at the MI DHHS on May 21, 2018, and why the Rev. Bill Wylie-Kellermann and Tommy Tackett chose to go to jail rather than pay the court assessed fine, please click on the link: Call to Action Explanation on May 21st Action.


How to Help: Donate / Sign Up / Learn More

The financial burden for those incarcerated builds quickly…not including the loss of income from missing work, the state bill of $50 for each day they're incarcerated doubles the cost of the $300 fine option; these plus other costs such as those incurred by phone calls during their stay put a dollar sign on the cost of justice.

Please help support the legal support needs of the MI PPC with a contribution today at MI PPC Donate

Also, please ask your friends and family to join the MI PPC by signing up at
MI PPC Get Involved


Friday, December 7, 2018

Updates on the arrests and court actions from 40 Days of Direct Action

UPDATED: Jan 12, 2019.
From the MI PPC Coordinating Committee:

The consequences of the direct actions in Lansing continue to play out within the legal system. For all those arrested in Lansing, everyone was offered the Diversion Program which included a steep fine, community service, and no record. Some have chosen to take this, while others have or will be going to court to plead no contest and testify in the courtroom to why they acted with the Poor People’s Campaign that day. About half the group from the June 4 action at the Department of Environmental Quality are in preparation to take the action to a jury trial. In Detroit, for the June 18 action, most took a plea deal with a fine. Seven folks (#Gilbert7) are preparing for trial beginning January 18. We continue to be a new, unsettling force for liberation through every stage of these actions!



Michigan Poor People’s Campaign
Direct Action Cases Detailed Updates


During the 40 Days of Action for the Poor People's Campaign, 105 Michigan residents were arrested over six weeks of justice-seeking, non-violent direct action in Lansing and Detroit.

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

ACTION: On May 14, following the rally at the Capital, we took to the streets. 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. No arrests made.

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

ACTION: On May 21, following a rally at both the Capital, we marched to the Department of Health and Human Services. Twenty activists blockaded the entrances and pushed inside the building. 16 people were arrested.

CONSEQUENCES: Six people took the option of the Diversion Program paying a fine and doing community service.  Ten people took it to court speaking into the record why they acted as they plead no contest. They were fined $300 or 12 days in jail. Tommy Tackett and Bill Wylie-Kellermann refused to pay and are currently serving their time at Ingham County Jail.

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

ACTION: On May 29, following the rally at the Capital, those risking arrest planted crosses on the lawn to commemorate all the death as a result of our military spending. Hundreds then went into the House while in session singing “Somebody’s hurting my children, and we won’t be silent anymore.”  At closing time, arrests were made to folks who remained in the Rotunda doing a die-in. 19 were arrested.

CONSEQUENCES: Nine of those arrested took the Diversion Program paying a fine and doing community service. Ten folks plan to plead “no contest” in the court. These cases have just been filed and we will have court dates soon.

June 4: THE RIGHT TO HEALTH AND A HEALTHY PLANET: Ecological Devastation and Health Care
MI Department of Environmental Quality

ACTION: On June 4, following the rally at the Capital, 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. At 5pm, folks moved to block the parking lot and were immediately arrested. 30 people were arrested.  

CONSEQUENCES: Eight folks entered the Diversion program to remove a misdemeanor from their record. All but 15 of the remaining group pleaded no contest or guilty and are seeking a jury trial. Sixteen of those arrested plan on taking this to a jury trial. The first pre-trial conference is scheduled for 1/15/19 at 1:30pm in Lansing 54 A District Court.

June 11: EVERYBODY’S GOT THE RIGHT TO LIVE: Education, Living Wage Jobs, Income, Housing
MI Treasury and MI State Housing Development Authority

ACTION: 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. Almost 50 people sat in front of the entrance and were quickly arrested. 17 people were arrested.

CONSEQUENCES: Six people have taken diversion. Eleven plan to plead no contest. Currently awaiting court dates.

June 18: A NEW AND UNSETTLING FORCE: Confronting the Distorted Moral Narrative
Q-Line and Quicken Loans, Detroit

ACTION: On June 18, over 200 people protested at the main offices of DWSD and GLWA against immoral and unjust water shutoffs. PPC also interrupted the narrative of millionaire developer/gentrifier Dan Gilbert as the savior of Detroit. Those risking arrested climbed into the fountain in Campus Martius declaring water for Flint and Detroit not for profit. People also blocked the entrance to the One Detroit Building that headquarters Quicken Loans. Other blocked the Q-Line in both directions. 23 people were arrested.

CONSEQUENCES: Most arrestees pled no contest and gave statements in court to why they acted. 7 people refused the plea and are taking this to a jury trial. #Gilbert7. The trial begins January 22 in Detroit at 36th District Court at 1:30pm, and continues Jan 23-25 at 9:30am daily.



Monday, December 3, 2018

Two Michigan PPC Activists Sentenced to 12 Days Jail for MI DHHS Peaceful Action


   Michigan State Chapter


For Immediate Release

***Press Release***

Monday, December 3, 2018

Contact: Valerie Blakely 313-704-5150

Pastor and Young Activist Choose to Do the Time Instead of Pay the Fine!

Lansing: Today Rev. Bill Wylie-Kellerman and Tommy Tackett turned themselves in to the 54th District Court, in Lansing, regarding the action taken on May 21st, at the Michigan Department of Human Services. They were immediately taken into custody to begin their 12 day sentence.

In May, as part of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, a group of Michigan residents blocked the doors and entered the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

On that day legislation was pending that would have required recipients of food and health aid to work 80 hours per month, but by a clever stipulation exempting white rural counties and binding black majority ones. They stopped office business as usual to ask: Who will DHHS serve? Systemic racism? Corporate development? Neighborhood clearing? Or will it serve justice? Will it serve people, poor and Black and all?

FACTS
      44 % of children in Michigan live in poverty
      Tens of thousands live without water in their homes
      Emergency management has gutted our democratic process and directly impacted 51% of black residents and 16.6% of latinx communities
      Black residents are incarcerated at 6 times the rate of their white peers
      Our immigrant communities are under attack with illegal raids, intimidation tactics, and fear of deportation

Rev Kellerman and Tommy Tackett took action to demand justice from the government that serves “We The People”, to shine a light on poverty and systemic racism and to demand that the people being most impacted be heard!

During their court appearances on October 30, they pled “no contest” and were sentenced by Judge Delucca of 54 District Court to “$300 in costs and fines or 12 days in jail”.
Eight activists decided to pay the fine; however, after some deliberation and prayer, this morning, Rev Kellerman and Tommy Tackett turned themselves in and will serve 12 days in jail.

Tommy Tackett says, “This was a moral action rooted in my deepest spiritual values, to hold the department of human and health services accountable for crimes against humanity, including their role in the mass water shut offs in Detroit.” Tommy adds: “In good moral conscious I cannot bring myself to pay the fine. When the judge said it was going to be 12 days in jail, I had to ask myself “what are our communities worth?” And what am I willing to give in this struggle for justice.”

Minister Emeritus of St Peter’s Episcopal Church and longtime Detroiter, Rev. Bill Wylie-Kellerman gave this statement on his decision to serve jail time, “I believe that civil disobedience and non-violent direct actions have moral trajectories to them – lines which can be played out in a variety of ways. I am willing to be held accountable and to give an accounting of my actions. Whether one goes to trial or enters a plea, as we did in this case, it represents an opportunity to “go on record” with our commitments. That is also the case with my choice as a matter of conscience to do the 12 days instead of paying the fine.

Facing the prospect of jail, we are mindful, as the Poor People’s Campaign stresses, that though People of Color make up 37% of the US population, they comprise 67% of prisoners in county, state and federal systems.

We pray our decision about this sentence will truly be in the service of justice.
“Everybody’s got a right to live!””

For more information about the Michigan Poor People’s Campaign: https://www.facebook.com/events/281403469378655/
 
 
BACKGROUND:
The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival is co-organized by Repairers of the Breach, a social justice organization founded by the Rev. Barber; the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights and Social Justice at Union Theological Seminary; and hundreds of local and national grassroots groups across the country.
The campaign is building a broad and deep national moral movement – rooted in the leadership of poor people and reflecting the great moral teachings – to unite our country from the bottom up. Coalitions have formed in 39 states and Washington, D.C. to challenge extremism locally and at the federal level and to demand a moral agenda for the common good.
A Poor People’s Campaign Moral Agenda, was drawn from this listening tour, while an audit of America conducted with allied organizations, including the Institute for Policy Studies and the Urban Institute, showed that, in many ways, we are worse off than we were in 1968.
The Moral Agenda, calls for major changes to address systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, the war economy and our distorted moral narrative, including repeal of the 2017 federal tax law, implementation of federal and state living wage laws, universal single-payer health care, and clean water for all.