Monday, January 21, 2019

Press Release: #Gilbert7 Trial for MI PPC water rights and anti-gentrification activists

Rev. Bill Wylie-Kellermann, of the 'Gilbert 7' at King Day press conference(Photo: Kim Hunter)
For Immediate Release 
Michigan Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival 
Monday, January 21, 2019
 Sylvia Orduño,

King Day Call for Affordable Water for Detroit Families
Michigan Poor People’s Campaign members speak out before court appearance

DETROIT – The “Gilbert 7” members of the Michigan Poor People’s Campaign and their supporters held a King Day press conference at St. Matthew and St. Joseph’s Church to talk about their nonviolent action, its connection to King Day and why, like King, they risked arrest.  Last summer, they blocked the Q-Line and the entrance to Quicken Loans to call attention to the tens of millions in public money given to wealthy people like Gilbert even as Detroit families are forced to do without water because of high water bills. The seven defendants will appear in 36th District Court Tuesday before Judge Larry D. Williams, Jr.

“We are going to court tomorrow as an indictment of a racist system that attacks poor, mostly black and brown people,” said Rev. Bill Wylie Kellermann of the Michigan Poor People’s Campaign. “We saw it with the disastrous Emergency Managers unleashed mostly on black and brown voters. We see it in Detroit’s amazingly uneven development between African American neighbors and the whiter more affluent downtown and Midtown areas and we see it with the massive water shutoffs and foreclosures driving black families from their homes. Elected leaders need to take a moral stance with their constituents instead bowing to wishes of the wealthy.”

The activists also spoke out about a new report from the Haas Institute that cites work of Detroit activist groups such as We the People of Detroit to support income based water bills.
“Martin Luther King Day is the perfect day to highlight nonviolent action taken for racial and economic justice,” said Marian Kramer of Michigan Welfare Rights Organization. “We are working to strike down racist policies such as billionaires like Gilbert getting massive tax subsidy handouts from a city that declared bankruptcy and is depriving thousands of mostly African American families access to water because their bills are too high. That sort of racism is cited in the Haas Institute report on Detroit’s water crisis. People are forced to do without water for drinking, cleaning and proper sanitation because of high water and sewerage bills and rates. That spreads serious disease as noted in Haas report which, calls for a Water Affordability Plan as Detroit’s water warriors have been doing so for years.