A Water Rights Tribubal
Rev. Bill Wiley-Kellerman
A Water Rights Tribunal organized by Detroiter’s Resisting Emergency Management heard testimony from witnesses in Flint and Detroit. Governor Snyder and Mayor Duggan were found guilty of Crimes Against the People as they have knowingly and willfully deprived citizens of the basic right to safe, affordable drinking water. Here are the opening remarks to the Tribunal offered by Rev. Bill Wiley-Kellerman. He presided over the Tribunal.
The Peoples Tribunal on Water Crimes and Crimes against Democracy is hereby convened.
We are on the record with Case number 2016-H20justice
Welcome to all present. I trust everyone is prepared to proceed.
I have before me the document convening this Tribunal which includes detailed charges. These have been made available to all present.
The defendants, Richard Snyder, Michael Duggan, Darnell Early, and Kevyn Orr, have been notified and duly summoned. This document was sent them by registered mail.
For the record, I see that Misters Snyder and Duggan are present in effigy. I will issue peoples’ warrants for Misters Early and Orr.
Proceed with reading the summary of charges variously against them all:
As stated in the summons before you:
Crimes Against Democracy through Lawless Emergency Management
Poisoning the Water Supply of Flint and its People
Mass Water Shut Offs in Detroit
False Claims that Flint’s Water is Safe
False Claims that Making Water Affordable is Illegal
Breach of Public Trust in Water
Theft of the Commons
Ignoring the Will of the Voters and the Health and General Welfare of the People – as required by the constitution
In this matter, it is important to review the previous judicial history which has brought us to this Tribunal.
Emergency Management is a key instrument in a number of these crimes (and indeed a crime in and of itself)– it must be observed that PA4 was repealed by a majority of voters – only to have it repassed as PA 436– necessitating a People’s Tribunal
Fed Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes put a stay on the Federal Court challenge to PA 436 under the Voting Rights Act – thereby effectively legitimating the use of the law against every African American city in the state (Including Flint, Detroit, and Highland Park) – replacing ¾ of black public officials in MI with EMs – – necessitating a People’s Tribunal
In Fed Bankruptcy Court Richard Snyder testified that PA436 was not a violation of the Constitutional right to vote because an EM could be voted out after 18 months, And Yet his Attorney General prevailed in an Ingham Co. Court allowing that this applied only to a particular EM thereby, enabling him to keep DPS under direct gubernatorial rule for 5 years and counting, preventing all that time any forensic audit -– thereby necessitating a People’s Tribunal
Since Judge Rhodes noted in his ruling (Lyda et al) that there is no Michigan law guaranteeing water as a human right, he thereby allowed mass shut-offs to continue. (Other states CA, MA, PA do affirm such a legal right). This has necessitated appeal to International bodies of law – UN Resolution 64/292 Jul 2010 “Disconnection of water services because of failure to pay due to lack of means constitutes a violation of the human right to water and other international human rights.” – Denial of clean, safe, affordable water – necessitating a People’s Tribunal
Judge Rhodes ruled that an irreparable harm was being done to people of Detroit who were massively shut-off from water, but he allowed that the Court was unable and unwilling to prevent the harm – – necessitating a People’s Tribunal.
Since people in Detroit attempted to prevent that harm by blocking the water shut-off trucks from private contractor Homrich inc, from turning off water to hundreds of people in July of 2014 (38K over the year), these civil resisters have been charged but have so far been denied by the courts, use of the “necessity” or “justification” defense (which would demonstrate that they acted precisely to prevent the harm) . Hence, a People’s Tribunal has been required.
Since two of those blockaders have now all but completed a jury trial – a jury being the last vestige of democracy in a city under EM – and during closing arguments and instructions to the jury – the head of Mr Duggan’s law department went behind the backs of the defendants and their counsel to secure a stay from Circuit Court Judge Michael Hathaway, sending the jury home indefinitely – a People’s Tribunal has been made necessary.
Since Article IVof State Consitition: (§ 51 and 52)state that the public health and general welfare of the people of the state are hereby declared to be matters of primary public concern. And that the conservation and development of the natural resources of the state are hereby declared to be of paramount public concern in the interest of the health, safety and general welfare of the people. The legislature shall provide for the protection of the air, water and other natural resources of the state from pollution, impairment and destruction.
And yet to date no charges have been brought against these two men by either federal or state Attorneys General – rendering a Peoples’ Tribunal necessary.
We will begin with Opening statements, hearing first from the People…
Bill Goodman: Peoples; Opening Statement: Detroit and Flint, Emergency Management, Water and Human Rights, turning water into money resulting in genocide (10 minutes: 6:30 to 6:40)
Nicholas Klaus: Defense Opening Statement: Heroic and competent defenders of capital, the American way of life and lucrative contracts for well-connected corporate cronies 10 minutes (6:40 to 6:50)
6:50 to 7:30
Witnesses for the People: Valerie Jean (Detroit). Melissa Mays(Flint)
7:30 to 8:00
Witnesses for the Defense and cross
Michael Doan (Duggan) 8 min defense, 6 min cross
Fred Vitale (Snyder) 8 min defense, 6 min cross.
Debra Taylor (Detroit)
Narriyah Sharrif (Flint)
Prosecutor 6-8 min
Defense 6—8 min
As to instructions for the Jury…Ordinarily, judges instruct jurors in a way that actually minimizes, constricts, and constrains their awareness of their own power. I will not do so. Juries are inherently a powerful and authoritative form of direct democracy. I will not hide that fact from you.
I will encourage you to discern where lies are being told either openly or through spin doctoring. And I encourage you speak and vote using the full powers of your conscience.
Each of you have 2 minutes to share your position and the reasons for your vote of guilt or innocence. You may further, pending the outcome of the verdict, voice a recommendation for sentence.
Michael Balogun Anderson
Jury speaks one by one (2 min each)
8:15 to 8: 30
By my tally we have a unanimous verdict of Guilty on all counts.
The Court thanks each of you for your service in this matter.
As to sentencing…
These are serious crimes, violations of democracy and the human right to life itself. All charges which may yet be brought in conventional courts.
I have considered the various penalties which the state itself is able to sanction and enforce:
Imprisonment, being denied the necessities of life, being slowly poisoned with heavy metals, or being forcibly expelled from the region by foreclosure and water shut-off and water poisoning. These I am taking under advisement. But to reiterate, any decision or sentence in the Peoples’ Tribunal does not preclude further charges in other courts.
Mr’s Snyder, Duggan, (Early, and Orr)…you are hereby stripped of your authority to lead or rule the people of Detroit and Michigan. The people are no longer bound to honor you in office. Moreover, you are to be lead in an ignominious spectacle of your failures before the people of Michigan, the people of the nation, and the people of the world. Go. You are no longer over us. Let it be so ordered. Tap gavel.
(The two are led out by the baliffs).
The full implementation of these sentences requires action on the part of the peoples’ movements. I call on Monica Lewis Patrick to lead us in those deliberations.