As the looting of Detroit continues, another 1/5 of the city’s residents are slated to become homeless, under right wing governor Rick Snyder’s Emergency Manager.
On October 8th, Detroit’s appointed Emergency Manager, Kevin Orr, along with the city’s conspicuous mayor, Mike Duggan (read how Duggan was *elected here) and Wayne County Treasurer, Raymond Wohtowicz, announced another mass sell off of Detroit property, via public auction.
One lucky, undisclosed bidder, will soon become of the owner of more than 6,300 properties, at least 1,000 of which are considered valuable, in what is being promoted as a ‘blight bundle.’
To understand exactly how much of Detroit is being sold to the highest bidder, look at the map below. Light blue shading indicates properties that have already been sold, while dark blue dots indicate properties that are being sold now. The red dots you see are all properties that are included in single bid, huge ‘blight bundle’ that includes more than 6,300 properties.
It’s hard to imagine that after seeing the map above, anyone is still confused about the purpose of Rick Snyder’s emergency manager law. Apparently the Governor’s hand picked emergency manager believes the best way to deal with ‘blight’ is to put an additional 150,000 Detroit citizens out, forcing them onto the city’s streets.
The Bush era housing crisis may have impacted the city of Detroit more than any other city in the nation. After years of right wing policies that paved the way for the outsourcing of American jobs, union busting and attacks on middle class wages, the last vestiges of the city’s middle class neighborhoods were finally swept away in the criminal mortgage fraud scheme, that took its toll on the entire country, but maybe nowhere else quite like here.
While the criminal bankers received little more than a slap on the wrist, the people who were harmed by that criminal activity continue to experience the devastating consequences of mortgage fraud, rate rigging and corporate looting.
Who is buying up Detroit? According to the Wall Street Journal, there has been a ‘billionaire’s buying spree‘, as the rich swoop in like the vultures they are, to buy up the property of the very people they made poor, through their own criminal activity.
If getting their hands on something that belongs to someone else results in another 1/5 of the city’s residents having no roof over their heads, even as we move into the next Michigan winter, so be it. Why should they care about that? Whoever has the most stuff wins. Human lives and human suffering be damned.
Michigan governor Rick Snyder has done his best to propagandize the need to appoint an ’emergency manager’ to handle Detroit’s financial crisis. He’s tried to sell his decision to force the city into bankruptcy as ‘what was best’ for the city.
Now that those decisions have been forced upon Michigan residents (Michigan voters rejected Snyder’s emergency manager law in November of 2012) we see the devastating effects of allowing those who put money over human beings to gain control over the state. More than 50 percent of Michigan’s minority citizens now live in areas run by Snyder appointed emergency managers, instead of duly elected representatives. Those citizens no longer have a say in who represents them, and it shows in the way EM controlled areas are being governed.
Detroit’s manufactured water crisis is just another part of the same scenario. The water crisis currently effecting Detroit residents is not the result of people failing to pay their bills, as most media outlets have falsely reported. The water crisis was created by fraud on the part of the Detroit Water and Sewage Company. DWSD claims they billed people in error for six years, then suddenly, before the crisis occurred, sent out bills to residents which totaled $116 million dollars. DWSD claims they didn’t bill Detroit residents properly for six years because ‘oops, sorry’ there was a ‘systems change.’
The United Nations has stepped forward to condemn the human rights abuses that are occurring in the city of Detroit. Less than a week ago, UN officials visited the city of Detroit on a fact finding mission, investigating the water crisis. Their visit was followed by pleas to restore water service to the 27,000 plus citizens who were shut off under Snyder’s emergency manager.
In a joint press statement, UN spokespersons who visited the city stated, in part:
“We were deeply disturbed to observe the indignity people have faced and continue to live with in one of the wealthiest countries in the world and in a city that was a symbol of America’s prosperity.
We were also distressed to learn from the low-income African American residents of the impossible choices they are being compelled to make – to either pay their rent or their medical bill, or to pay their water bill.
UN fact finders also went on to outline some of the human struggles they observed while visiting the city of Detroit.
“It was touching to witness mothers’ courage to strive to keep their children at home, and the support people were providing to each other to live in these unbearable circumstances. And it was heartbreaking to hear of the stigmatization associated with the shut-offs – in particular the public humiliation of having a blue mark imprinted on the sidewalk in front of homes when their water was shut off due to unpaid bills.
The statement points out that the United States is bound by international human rights laws, and those laws apply to all levels of government, state, local and federal. Sadly, there are those who have been elected (and appointed) to our government who clearly have no concern for human rights.
In line with the mandates entrusted to us by the Human Rights Council, we would like to underline that the United States is bound by international human rights law and principles, including the right to life as well as the right to non-discrimination with respect to housing, water and sanitation and the highest attainable standard of health. These obligations apply to all levels of Government – federal, state and municipal. Moreover, they also extend to the various functions of State, including the judiciary.
The rights to non-discrimination and equality are core principles of international human rights law. Governments are obliged not only to refrain from discrimination in the design and implementation of laws and policies, but must strive to ensure substantive equality for all. The United States has ratified the United Nations Convention on Elimination of Racial Discrimination which explicitly prohibits and calls for the elimination of racial discrimination in relation to several human rights directly affected by water disconnections, including the right to housing and the right to public health.
What’s happening in Detroit is the culmination of years of right wing policies, combined with continuous anti-minority propaganda. Many who live in city believe that the combined purpose is genocide.
“Detroiters and other communities going through the affects of Emergency Manager Law are going through a genocidal extraction process on many fronts – land, water, mobility, voting rights, intentional criminalization, and more. There is a path toward the destruction of this country and it will come from within itself. The rich will exterminate the poor. In that process as the rich seek soldiers to fight their war they will look around at the destruction and realize they have killed off the source from which their power was pulled,”
said Stephen Boyle, a Green Party candidate, running for US Congress in Michigan’s 14th District.
“Capitalism is self-consuming and this fear is showing up in magnified form around environmental justice issues. The right to pollute and own the commons is being sold off through cronies in government.”
Boyle, who lives in the suffering city of Detroit, went on to say:
I realize how socialist that sounds. People rush to label with known words. Our language is due for an upgrade that removes biases built up through the propaganda of corporate media preaching privatization and colonization. Detroit is NOT a blank slate to be conquered, yet that’s what is happening now. Forced eviction from generational family homes is the future of these blocks of properties going through Wayne County Tax auction. Speculation is Detroit’s imposed future and it isn’t pretty when standing in the epicenter, appearing to be a “blockade to progress”.
An additional 150,000 homeless citizens in Detroit will only exasperate the current humanitarian crisis. How long are Americans going to stay quiet and remain willfully blind to what’s happening in Michigan?