News from Michigan Poor People’s Campaign
Wednesday, May 15, 2019
‘In the Interest of Justice’ Charges Dropped, Activists Press on for Change
Human health, dignity must take precedence over profit, bottom-line mentality
MICHIGAN – Members of the Michigan Poor People’s Campaign (PPC) celebrated their latest legal victory by continuing to push for changes that prompted them to put their bodies on the line in the first place. In a press conference, they and their legal counsel detailed the group’s nonviolent civil disobedience at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (now the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy or EGLE). They also noted that the Ingham County prosecutor dropped all charges against 13 activists “in the interest of justice.”
“The prosecutor in Ingham County dropped charges against all 13 members of the MI Poor People’s Campaign who last Spring were part of 40 days of action,” said Sylvia Orduño of the Michigan Poor People’s Campaign and Michigan Welfare Rights Organization.“ The problems the group was protesting—MDEQ’s roles the in the Flint Water Poisoning, the oil spill threat of Enbridge’s Line 5, permitting the massive waste treatment expansion by US Ecology, and Nestlé’s exploitation of the Great Lakes — were all far worse than nonviolent action by those arrested.”
This latest legal victory follows Michigan PPC members being found not guilty by a Detroit jury a few months ago and a three-year legal ordeal, prior to the PPC, when the City of Detroit dropped charges against the “Homrich 9” for protecting Detroit families by blocking water shutoff trucks. In all cases, defendants asserted the “necessity defense,” proclaiming their nonviolent actions were justified by the harm caused to families by bad state department and corporate policies and practices.
“The MDEQ, now the Michigan Department of Environment and the Great Lakes and Energy, needs to be sure to change more than its name. It needs to change its priorities and the way it operates,” said Rev. Bill Wylie Kellermann of the Michigan Poor People’s Campaign. “It’s obvious that the old MDEQ needed to make public health the priority, not corporate profit. The poisoning of Flint, the oil spill threat from Enbridge’s Line 5, and Detroit’s Georgia Street Collective having to defend themselves against the massive expansion of the US Ecology waste facility are all problems powered by greed.”
Read more Defendants statementsALANA ALPERT, Rabbi, Director Detroit Jews for Justice; Congregation T’chiyah, Detroit, MI.
“Being a faith leader today means not just caring for our congregants and neighbors through personal joys and sorrows, but standing alongside them -- and for them if they can't. Our congregants and neighbors need clean, affordable water -- we all do. I'm honored to have had the opportunity to practice this kind of moral leadership with such an amazing group of spiritual warriors.”
CAROLYN BAKER, Coordinator, General Baker Institute, Detroit, MI.
In quoting her father, General Baker, Jr., “Poor people don't have but a couple of avenues to fight in. We got the legislature, the court, and the streets. We hope for the days where we can organize ourselves, where we got a contingent of people that control the legislature, a contingent of people that control the courts, and a contingent of people that control the streets! ‘Cause that's all we got!"
DEB HANSEN, Reverend, Chaplain, Board Member, Michigan Interfaith Power & Light; Spokesperson, Concerned Citizens of Cheboygan and Emmet County, Levering, MI
“The threat to the Great Lakes from Enbridge's Line 5 is understood, the connection to climate is not. Climate breakdown is a global undeclared state of emergency that may put our kids on the endangered species list. To enable a tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac, a massive investment in a dirty energy past, is perverse. The solution is clear: #shutdownline5 #cleanenergyNOW!!!”
(Click below for more photos)