Water war heats up
Nine people, mostly elderly, arrested blocking shutoff trucks
By Phreddy Wischusen
The Michigan Citizen
For two hours July 10, approximately 50 protestors blocked Homrich employees from shutting off water to Detroit residences. The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department recently contracted the Carelton, Mich.-based Homrich to execute the shutoffs at a price of $5.6 million. The protestors, individuals and those representing various activist groups — among them the Detroit People’s Water Board, the Detroit Water Brigade, the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization — arrived in front of Homrich’s site at 4660 Grand Blvd. before 7 a.m., blocking vehicles from entering the gated lot across from the Russell Industrial Center. Hip Hop artist Invincible and activist Christy Bieber held a banner addressing the workers, which read: “It’s not your fault, but it is your fight.”
Homrich, which demolished the historic Cass Technical High School and the JL Hudson’s building in Detroit, shutoff water to 7,210 homes in June alone.
After DWSD received payment, 3,118 homes had water service restored. Water has not been restored 4,092. DWSD does not know if those homes are vacant or occupied.
Protestors demanded an immediate end to the shutoffs and have advocated the implementation of the Water Affordability Plan drafted in 2005. A version was accepted by Council in 2006.
Homrich workers waited for police to remove protesters before they entered the facility.
Just before 8:30 a.m., Detroit police officers arrested nine protesters, most of whom were in their 60s and 70s. With the protesters restrained, by 9 a.m., Homrich trucks left the facility.
This month, the United Nations called the shutoffs a violation of human rights. Almost 60 percent of children in the city live below the poverty line.
Protesters addressed police officers, Homrich employees and security guards, saying “Your pension is next.”