As Democratic contenders for President convened for the second series of debates,more than 2,000 people gathered outside the Fox Theatre in downtown Detroit in supportof a Green New Deal. This demonstration, organized by the Frontline Detroit Coalition offers new possibilities to deepen the national perspective on the twin crises of our time: climate catastrophe and income inequality.Detroit has unique contributionsto make in the understanding of a Green New Deal. As one of the first cities developed by large scale, industrial production, we were also one of the first abandoned by it. As a result, Detroiters long ago gave up the notion that there will some single, simple action to restore work to millions of people and provide secure ways of living. Instead, drawing on the rich roots of African American culture, many people in the city have been ”making a way out of no way.”For example, in the face of what many in power call abandoned lots, Detroiters saw the potential for urban gardens, not only to provide personal sustenance, but as ways to restore community and re-establish intergenerational ties. Today the concepts of food justice and food sovereignty enrich our understanding that a “city that feeds itself, frees itself.”
And as the mayor and his minions continue to shut off water, Detroiters are insisting that we shift our thinking from water as a commodity, to be owned, bought, and sold, to water as a human right and sacred trust. These concepts are the foundation for continued pressure for water affordability and the insistence that we make responsible decisions that protect people as well as the planet.
Detroiters have also seen the ease with which capital finds new ways to make money. We have seen our schools devastated by profit seekers. We have endured increased pollution and persistent threats to our air and water as corporations pursue expanding refineries and transporting fuel through fragile ecologies. We are told the best we can expect is a few jobs in exchange for poisoning our air and risking our health. More and more of us are rejecting that logic.
These experiences collectively frame one of the most important and little reported acts of the Detroit City Council. This spring Council President Pro Tem Sheffield and Council member Castened-Lopez introduced a resolution in support of the Green New Deal. It passed unanimously. It offers an honest look at the magnitude of the crisis we face and the possibilities for action. It states in the opening:
WHEREAS, The world is presently entering the climate change era, which is already causing epic transformation of our home planet as a result of increasingly unstable climactic and environmental conditions, intensified and more frequent and destructive storms, floods, droughts, fires and resulting disruptions of social and economic life. …and
WHEREAS, In response to this unprecedented series of existential threats to the very ecological basis for human civilization itself, climate justice activists have demanded a Green New Deal … an urgent ten (10) year plan to mobilize every aspect of American society, leading to a national social, industrial and economic policy transformation, on a scale not seen since World War II and the New Deal era..and.
WHEREAS, The proposed Green New Deal appropriately calls out several related crises in social, political and economic realms, that are directly related to environmental challenges…and
WHEREAS, The proposed Green New Deal names multiple systemic injustices in frontline and vulnerable communities as among the most far-reaching evils of our climate emergency which must be fought and prevented…and
WHEREAS, The proposed Green New Deal is a transitional program to, among other things, protect the basic human rights of the most vulnerable, stimulate the economy by funding full employment through ecological restoration projects – on the model of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) of the original New Deal – to ensure that basic needs of the most seriously endangered and harmed will be met in the process of a necessary planned, just transition to a sustainable economy and society; …
The statement resolves “THAT The time for action is now.” Yet since this resolution, actions have been slow from the Council and the Mayor.
But within the community, the sense of urgency is encouraging the imaginations of people determined to find new ways of living, of relating to one another and the earth that sustains us.
The crises we face are not natural. They are the direct result of choices we have made. The future depends on our capacity now, to make different choices about who and what we value.
“Facial recognition technology is racially biased and poses a grave threat to privacy,” said Rodd Monts, Campaign Outreach Coordinator for the ACLU of Michigan. “It will disproportionately harm immigrants and communities of color, who already bear the brunt of over-policing. A city like ours should be taking the lead in resisting the use of dangerous and racially biased surveillance technology — not advocating for it.”
On Wednesday July 24th, the first meeting of the Michigan Joint Task Force on Jails and Pretrial Incarceration took place at Wayne State Law School. Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist introduced the purpose of the task force, which is to make policy recommendations based on data being compiled by Pew Research, community input, and the task force’s experience in the field. Following opening statements, every member of the task force introduced themself and the work that they do. DJC’s founding ED Amanda Alexander addressed the audience in the room.