Skip to main content

Why are the billionaires always laughing?

Because they know the corporate media will never call bullshit on their bullshit.

Why are the billionaires laughing?

It’s easy to laugh when the corporate press treats you as a glorious success instead of the epitome of a broken social order. They laugh because they know the corporate media prefers to fawn over them rather than hold them to account.

Today, we ask you to support our nonprofit journalism because we are not impressed by billionaires flying into space, their corporations despoiling our health and planet, or their vast fortunes safely concealed in tax havens across the globe. We are not laughing.

We are hard at work digging out the truth. Please support this independent journalism today by donating to our critical Fall Campaign. We cannot do it without you. Thank you. -- Craig Brown, Co-founder

Support Our Work -- Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Every donation—large or small—helps us bring you the news that matters.

(Photo: US Uncut)

(Photo: US Uncut)

'Escalating Resistance' in Detroit as Residents Block Water Shut-Offs

'The issue of whether water should be a commodity or part of the commons raises the question of what kind of future we want.'

Sarah Lazare

Detroit residents on Thursday launched a direct action to halt the city's mass shut-off of water to thousands of households, physically blocking a private corporation from turning off the tap.

Carrying a banner that read "Stop the Water Shut-offs," ten city residents nonviolently obstructed the entrance to Homrich Inc.—the private company that was handed a $5.6 million deal from the city to shut off water services to residences that are behind on their bills, according to the protest organizers. They were surrounded during the civil disobedience by a crowd of over 40 supporters chanting "If the water don't flow, the trucks don't go."

The protesters held the entrance for more than an hour and a half before all ten were arrested, Bill Wylie-Kellermann, a Detroit pastor who was among the arrestees, told Common Dreams. "We feel that it's really time to intensify and escalate the resistance to the water shutoffs and emergency management," Wylie-Kellermann declared.

"The only reason they are getting away with this is because this is a majority black city." —Sarah Coffey, People's Water Board Coalition & Water Rights Hotline

The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) announced in June that it is escalating its disconnections of water services to residences that have fallen behind on their bills to 3,000 a month. In a city devastated by unemployment and foreclosure crises, nearly half of all residents are unable to pay, and the city's continual increase in water rates is not helping. Thousands of people have already had their water turned off, including many who were disconnected long before this June escalation, and tens of thousands more are next.

Concerned organizations say that the shut-offs have so far unleashed a human rights crisis that devastates low-income communities of color. UN experts agree: in response to a complaint from a coalition of organizations, a UN panel condemned the city last month for violating the "human right to water," with the UN expert on the right to adequate housing warning the shut-offs "may be discriminatory" against African Americans.

Sarah Coffey of the People's Water Board and Water Rights Hotline put it succinctly in an interview with Common Dreams: "The only reason they are getting away with this is because this is a majority black city."

According to Coffey, the disconnections are likely part of a plan, driven by emergency manager Kevyn Orr, to get rid of bad debt in order to privatize the DWSD. Orr's rush to declare bankruptcy for the city, impose austerity, and gut public services including schools—all backed by republican Governor Rick Snyder—has left many residents convinced the water shut-offs are just one more step in a plan to displace Detroit communities and gentrify the city.

Coffey said that the Thursday morning protest was met with a "spirit of solidarity" from supporters yet violence from the police, who injured two of the arrestees, who hail from organizations including the People's Water Board, Michigan Welfare Rights, Detroiters Resisting Emergency Management, and the Detroit Water Brigade. All of those arrested have since been released.

This is not the first protest of its kind in Detroit. Wylie-Kellermann credited Charity Hicks, long-time Detroit organizer for food, water, and racial justice, for 'sparking' the protest and said the action was "in her honor." Hicks, who passed away this week, was arrested this spring for resisting the shut-off of her home's water.

Wylie-Kellermann said he is hopeful mass protests will grow from here, including a July 18 rally expected by organizers to draw thousands of people from across the state and country. "We are hoping this is really just the first step in a series of nonviolent direct actions that intensify and broaden the resistance," he said.

According to Coffey, the outcome of the struggle for the "human right to water" has broad implications because "Wall Street is using Detroit to create a blueprint for future cities." Coffey added, "The issue of whether water should be a commodity or part of the commons raises the question of what kind of future we want."

The Detroit Water Brigade released a video of the Thursday's protest:

_____________________


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Schumer Endorses 'Inspiring Community Leader' India Walton as Buffalo's Next Mayor

The U.S. Senate majority leader's move comes as some key New York Democrats refuse to back the democratic socialist.

Jessica Corbett ·


'Who Will You Throw Overboard?' Manchin Targeted for Trying to Sink Democratic Agenda

West Virginians gathered at the senator's yacht to demand that he stop blocking the "popular and needed" Build Back Better package.

Jessica Corbett ·


'We Shouldn't Do It at All': Manchin Admits He's the Enemy of Democrats' Ambitions

The right-wing West Virginia Democrat and fossil fuel investor has previously confessed his intent to quash his own party's sweeping $3.5 trillion Build Back Better package.

Brett Wilkins ·


After Getting 'Stealth Bailout' During Pandemic, US Corporations Try to Kill Proposed Tax Hikes

"When it's time to finally put workers first, big businesses are spending millions to maintain their advantage and preserve the status quo," said Kyle Herrig of Accountable.US.

Jessica Corbett ·


'Disgraceful': Just 9 Republicans Join With Dems to Hold Steve Bannon in Criminal Contempt

The vote "reveals just how far the Republican Party has fallen" since Trump took control as GOP's de facto leader, said one pro-democracy advocate.

Jon Queally ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo