The actual necessities for sustaining human life are few. They are food, water, and shelter. It is inhumane to not offer these few items to everyone. One of our nation’s largest and poorest cities is removing one of these necessities from as many as 300,000 of its citizens. For the period between January 1 and September 30, more than 27,000 were denied access to water. In Detroit the water is fit to drink, if you can get it.
In late September Detroit’s Bankruptcy Judge denied an appeal for water service to be restored, and block additional shut downs for the people of Detroit. It was denied. The judge ruled that although water is necessary to sustain life, the city of Detroit had no legal responsibility to provide the service without receiving payment for it. Detroit’s water bills are twice the amount of the national average.
Sunday the United Nations became involved. Rochelle McCaskill met with two representatives of the U.N. She told them about her personal situation. Her income is a disability check of $672 per month and her rent is $600. The U.N. officials will be meeting with the Mayor and City Council on Monday. They can only make recommendations.
Another woman, and community leader, witnessed the harsh and heartless attitude of the city and its employees. Charity Hicks woke up at 6 a.m. to the sound of a truck outside of her home. It was a city contractor and he was shutting off the water to several homes. She was ignored when she asked him to wait a few minutes while her pregnant neighbor filled a few water bottles. When he finished she asked him to show her a physical order to terminate the service. He shoved her, knocking her down and injuring her leg. He then drove away. Later when two policemen arrived she believed they had come to take her story. Instead she was arrested for interfering with a city employee.
Our local, state, and federal governments all face financial challenges. However, there must be priorities. Governments were created to provide better lives for their citizens, not to remove life-giving material. Our federal government gave hundreds of millions of dollars to two of Detroit’s automobile manufacturers which came from taxes paid by the people of the United States. One would think the money needed to provide fresh and accessible water to a few hundred thousand of the city’s residents who are living in poverty could be managed.
There must exist at least a dozen unnecessary projects within such a large city. Several or most of them have a single-minded purpose; to secure campaign donations for future elections.
One of the members of the two-man U.N. team was visibly shocked regarding the situation. He said that the situation was retrogression and a human rights issue.
We the People of Detroit is an organization bringing water from Canada to those with the greatest need.
Accusations have been non-ending. Michigan’s Republican Governor Rick Snyder appointed an emergency manager. His purpose was to move Detroit towards bankruptcy and to take any means necessary to stop the city’s downward slide. The water shutoffs began as this ‘manager’ took control.
Detroit is 80 percent African-American. Many question if the water situation would exist if it was 80 percent Caucasian. Receiving accessible and clean water should not be an issue. It’s unconscionable to remove a source of life.
By James Turnage