Occupy Detroit: If you want to be inspired about the American spirit fighting for economic justice, you can’t miss the scene at Occupy Detroit.
If any city has a reason to Occupy and protest, it is the Motor City. This proud city boomed during better economic times, the auto unions offered hard workers a secure financial future, a decent home, and medical coverage. The middle class flourished with health. You didn’t need a degree or economic privilege in order to support your family. All you needed was the willingness to work hard — and no city if more full of grit and determination than Detroit.
If it’s hard workers you want, the Midwest is a goldmine. But if it’s jobs you want, the Midwest and Detroit in particular is a ghost town, leading to massive foreclosures, homelessness, illness and death.
Last Friday gave birth to Occupy Detroit, their colorful tents barely holding out the elements of cold and rain in Grand Circus Park. On Tuesday, Occupy Detroit protested peacefully at Bank of America, demanding a moratorium on foreclosures. Too many in Detroit are homeless now, living in makeshift homes. Award-winning Detroit photographer Bruce Giffin captured the ingenuity of the down and out in a photo showing old tires being used as a toilet. It might surprise the cake eaters to learn that some of these homeless folks are former teachers — people at one time with jobs, nice homes and a good family.
The economic royalists blame them for their misfortune, never acknowledging the inevitable economic hardships from the exit of an industry.
The letter protesters delivered to Bank of America read in part, “Bank of America received $45 billion in federal TARP bailout funds. It continues to be bailed out by the federal government through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which guarantees $2.1 trillion in Bank of America loans, many of which were fraudulent and as a result are in default. Bank of America and its affiliate Countrywide signed contracts to receive over $7 billion in additional taxpayer funds to modify loans under the Making Home Affordable Program, but continues to refuse to modify loans and keep families in their homes.”
Friday the protesters will be back at Bank of America if foreclosures aren’t stopped. PoliticusUSA will be covering Occupy Detroit this weekend, but here’s a snippet from our local reporter who was dropping off supplies for the protesters today. The scene she described is a testament to the unstoppable spirit of the Motor City:
Occupy Detroit Wednesday, Oct 19:
rain is still coming down
well organized clean, certain tents identified for organization
very colorful, creative
a lot of good signage
entire tent encampment is now gushing mud
rivulets of water running from leaf gulleys into shoe print lakes
host tent made of tarps blowing wind and rain
staffed by shivering young woman in soaked clothes
grateful for additional new tarps and ropes
i have the cell number of one person to contact
for food counts and etc
march on friday at noon foreclosure bank of america
yes things are changing
we may not need a hierarchy
we have the internet
we be local
then we be regional
then we be national
if and when we all can be national. . .
this local stuff may actually BE the national stuff. ..
The tyrannical privilege of the few has robbed these Americans of their homes, their jobs, their right to work, and their dignity. These folks aren’t asking for a hand out or a 20 million dollar bonus for bringing their company to its knees. They’re asking for the right to a decent life, based on their willingness to work and play by the rules. They’re asking for fairness, justice, and liberty. They are asking for the American way of life; the very founding principles of this country — that if you were willing to work hard, you would get a shot.
Instead they are treated as non-humans, mocked and abused by the elite whose extravagant lifestyles their tax dollars support. Herman Melville said, “Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.”
Detroit is the Ground Zero of our economic inequality, where the shameful disgrace of the homeless juxtaposes with just miles away, the tennis courted mansions of CEOs just steps from their yachts. While the Right wing will suggest that the people are waging class warfare, it is actually the people who are funding those yachts. And they’re not asking for a yacht. They’re asking for a toilet, some food, and the chance to get a job that pays a liveable salary.
Occupy Detroit deserves national attention. The faces we see there are the faces of America, suffering as collateral damage to someone else’s American dream.
Image: Bruce Giffin, Someone Else’s American Dream, copyright all rights reserved