Monday, December 31, 2012

Question Authority

Michigan is sitting in the wake of a massive amount of legislation coming through the State House and Senate in the past month. 282 bills have been finding their way before Governor Snyder to approve or veto in one month alone. The Governor has been on top the game, December 28 he signed 58 into law and vetoed 4 that day alone. When someone says they are working toward smaller government then sponsor this much legislation to grow government it is time to take notice.

Did you have a chance to see the legislation as it was coming through? According to our current form of government our representatives - a Senator and a House Representative - would be voting and interacting on these bill on our behalf. Therein lies a problem with our current system. These representatives sometimes operate with an understanding of the interests of their constituents, however most often they believe they know. This belief is what the people must call to question and request brought to public forum.
‎"Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blow, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress." ~ Frederick Douglass

The prejudices or pre-determined judgement or understanding are too often what guides our law makers. Their influences often may not reflect the interests of their constituents. Corporate agendas, cronyism, blackmail and extortion have become major factors in our government. These are seen as white collar crimes, or perhaps even worse - minor infractions that are corrected with a fine or temporary suspension.

PREJUDICE

We all have prejudices. These help us navigate the world easier by categorizing people and situations through this progressive sequence:
  1. What we see, hear, touch, taste, and smell - our senses
  2. What we experience - our interaction
  3. What we investigate and become educated - our reasoning 
Instinctively we choose a prejudice based on similar beliefs. Awareness allows us to suspend and change an initial prejudice as we gain more understanding of what we don't know. Some call this enlightenment or mature judgement. It is far different than indulging in group mind control and senseless following.

What Is Influential?

Sometimes we adopt the prejudices of others, granting them authority in our beliefs. This is what happens often with mainstream press, or "reliable sources". We need to remain AWARE and QUESTION how these views align with our morals. If we fall into always trusting a source blindly are we truly contributing to the world around us, or merely following the herd with blind faith.

Sadly we don't always get time to evaluate and then we react through the prejudices that prevail. Group mind, hysteria, mindless indulgence - are these signs of an evolved society?

FIGHTING BACK 

I've told people for a while that "normal hasn't ever changed anything". Evolution never happened through normal behavior. Critical thought comes from people that society has cast aside in various ways. Inventors see things differently than they are known to be. The questions of our youth - WHY and WHAT IF - need to be enshrined as worthwhile and valid. It is from those questions that deviation from the norm happens.

Changing Our Influences

The alternative press has been around forever, representing a point of view outside the mainstream. Those of us that read and share these works represent a very important audience. Our support is what enables more to be produced. Certain stories that we would like covered by larger publications simply won't be for a variety of reasons, one of which is profit. Revenues are also needed for alternative press. Contributions are also needed in the form of story content, photos, publicity and distribution. 

Becoming influential in these times of change can be easier than in the past. Technology has enabled voice for the masses and online social networks can bring distribution to a wider audience. But it doesn't stop with online - we have to be present as feet on the street, talking with those we meet.

Standing In Change 

When we protest and take the lead in creating newsworthy content it is important to do so responsibly. Knowing the issues and how to broadcast to gain following and unity matters. Raising our voices together as an educated group matters. Many of our representatives in government overlook protests until it becomes apparent that a large number of their constituents are asking to be heard and change to be made. When we become the influence over our representatives then we have government working for the people - however the partnering of mainstream press to government and corporate interests is in-ground in the substance of our society. Normal is sitting down to watch network television stations broadcasting their version of news. Normal is delivery of a newspaper to your doorstep, or grabbing the nationally known press tabloids.

Support Alternative News 

When will we embrace and engage in our stories? Can you share this article now, perhaps bring it up in conversation tomorrow or the next day? If you've got a comment to leave, write it please. If you need to meet with me to discuss, I will likely be at an Occupy Detroit General Assembly which are held weekly on Saturdays at noon. The location usually is 1515 Broadway, Detroit - a block away from Grand Circus Park.

Thank you for reading and sharing,
Stephen Boyle

Here are a few articles well worth noting. Feel free to offer additional links through comments.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Solidarity Protest with General Motors Hunger Strikers

The President of the Association of Injured and Ex-Workers of General Motors Colombia (ASOTRECOL), Jorge Parra, sewed his mouth shut on November 20th and is on hunger strike. Jorge, alongside local unions, community organizations, and religious leaders, demands that GM Detroit negotiate with ASOTRECOL. Jorge’s fellow workers continue their 15-month-long tent occupation outside the U.S. embassy in Bogotá, Colombia.
Jorge Parra from ASOTRECOL - November 20, 2012
Photo: Frank Hammer

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is considering awarding General Motors th
e “Award for Corporate Excellence,” citing GM’s “exemplary labor practices” and its overall “corporate social responsibility.” In 2006 the Bush administration granted the award to Colmotores, the GM plant located in Bogotá, Colombia--the same plant responsible for destroying the lives of the ASOTRECOL workers.

SHAME ON GM

  • GM Colombia (Colmotores), the most profitable GM plant in Latin America, fired over 200 workers who suffered work-related injuries and diseases, including spinal fractures and cancer.
  • GM bought off government inspectors, doctors, lawyers, and judges to hide evidence of poor working conditions and worker injuries. They falsified documents and destroyed patients’ medical histories.
  • GM refuses to recognize the workers’ occupational injuries and provide the fired workers with adequate medical compensation and pensions. Taking into account lost wages, pensions, and medical care, labor lawyers estimate a just settlement to be $24 million. In August 2012 Colmotores offered just $5,000 in total compensation to 12 workers. One spinal surgery alone costs over $50,000.

THE WORKERS’ DEMANDS:

  • GM Detroit must negotiate directly with ASOTRECOL.
  • Recognize workers’ injuries as occupational and provide adequate medical car.
  • Pay pensions for disabled workers and rehire those still able to work
  • Compensate workers for economic damage, including lost wages and homes
  •   Recognize ASOTRECOL as a GM union
  • U.S. enforcement of the Labor Action Plan, which outlines basic protections for workers within the US-Colombia Free Trade Agreement

MAKE A FINANCIAL DONATION

ASOTRECOL workers and their families lack adequate food, shelter, and medical care. Send a donation check to “Wellspring UCC” with “Colombia relief” on the memo line. Mailing address: Wellspring UCC, Box 508, Centreville VA 20122.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Mayor Bing Fails to Show at Special City Council Session He Called

Monday November 26th City Council was called upon to meet with Mayor Dave Bing, at the Mayor's request. However at 12:03 pm the Mayor pulled air time with WXYZ tv to announce a close friend was sick and required a visit during the appointed time for the meeting, Mayor Bing sent Kirk Lews, Chief of Staff to act as Deputy Mayor before City Council regarding a requested re-vote on the Miller Canfield contract.

City Council found there were numerous improprieties in the manner of the Mayor calling this meeting.
  1. According to Mayor Bing's liaison to City Council Adam Hollier notice was posted in 3 locations around Coleman A Young Municipal Center after 5pm on November 21st. This provides insufficient notice during the holiday weekend with offices closed Thursday and Friday. In effect notice would be seen when arriving at work Monday. Open Meetings Act requires notice posted 18 hours in advance.
  2. Mayor Bing sent an appointee as Deputy Mayor Kirk Lewis to the meeting with all nine elected City Council officials present. As an elected official he should have been present personally as the person who called the meeting.
  3. The issues to be discussed were voted on November 20th and results are final.

Issues to have been Discussed

Miller Canfield Contract Supplanting Corporation Counsel

A Miller Canfield Paddock and Stone, P.L.C. contract to manage legal matters for the Reform Agenda of the Financial Stability Agreement was DENIED on November 20th. This was the first Miller Canfield contract presented to City Council after over nine months of council and the public demanding contract to be presented. 
FINANCE DEPARTMENT/PURCHASING DIVISION

Jones, reso. autho. Contract No. 2870456 – 100% City Funding – The engagement is to provide legal advice and litigation representation pertaining to implementing the City’s ongoing restructuring as contemplated in the Financial Stability Agreement among the City, the Michigan Department of Treasury, and the Review Team for the City of Detroit (“FSA). – Miller Canfield Paddock & Stone PLC, 150 West Jefferson, Suite 2500, Detroit, MI 48226 – Contract Period: August 1, 2012 through June 30, 2014 – Contract Amount Not to Exceed: $300,000.00.    (Hourly Rate has been changed from $350.00 per hour to $275.00 per hour)  (Contract period has been changed start date changed from January 1, 2012 to August 1, 2012, end date changed from December 31, 2015 to June 30, 2014.)    MAYOR’S OFFICE
This agenda item was discussed on November 14th at the Internal Operations Standing Committee. Program Management Director Kriss Andrews was present to answer questions regarding the contract.

The approval of the Miller Canfield contract was a key milestone on the Milestone Agreement, due by November 30th. City Council members have claimed the Mayor is using extortion to push through an agenda. Today's rush meeting would certainly be defined as coercion, even with the multiple failures that it met.

The city is facing a law firm considered a formidable opponent, that has 109 lawyers on the Super Lawyers list. Miller Canfield worked with Governor Rick Snyder to put tooth into the 2011 Emergency Manager Law, Public Act 4 - enabling it to alter corporate structure of municipalities and alter union contracts without negotiation. On March 21, 2011 Governor Snyder issued a Special Letter to Michigan Legislators with his plans on use of the newly passed Emergency Manager Law. Within these plans the dismantling of city and county services is explained as the path toward creating metropolitan governments which would assume those services. Bills in the Senate and House were introduced November 8, 2011 to establish the Metropolitan Area Metropolitan Authority (MAMA) Act.The problem with this approach is how effective a broad reach would be in addressing specific needs within local communities. Local communities can push local issues forward that may not be present across an entire metropolitan area - servicing those needs is a matter of regional oversight, not outright control of local government.

Emergency Managers have been being trained through Turnaround Management Association. Kriss Andrews is one of their Certified Turnaround Professional (CTP) graduates. Jack Martin found favor through his track record as indicated by Mlive when he was appointed Emergency Manager over Highland Park Public Schools.


Pension Obligations

One additional item on the schedule, total of two items for the meeting.
BUDGET DEPARTMENT
Cockrel, Jr. reso. autho. To amend the FY 2012-13 Budget to address costs in excess of budget for FY 2011-12 UAAL pension obligations.
I believe this came forward from a document Free Detroit unearthed from a June 2012 study done by Foster McCollum White & Associates titled "17 point draft plan to re-align Detroit's fiscal and operational structure". This document is well worth reading, and points from the document will be in our next post. It details the dismantling of departments, reallocation of funds and more in a quick 8 page guide. The document can also be downloaded from the Public Documents library at Free Detroit No Consent.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The People March on Detroit



DETROIT RALLY AND MARCH - Monday & Tuesday 

November 6th we watched the votes tally - We saw Michigan Democrats win the Senate. We saw the re-election of President Barack Obama and saw Proposal 1 come in with a NO vote. The next morning we found …
  • The Emergency Manager Law had been repealed
    (but nothing changed)
  • Detroit’s Proposal C to ensure Corporation Counsel retained independence and the ability to prosecute Mayor Bing
    (and the Mayor continues supporting the Financial Stability Agreement born through Public Act 4, which was claimed to not conform with the requirements of Detroit City Charter)
and what we didn’t get was a CELEBRATION in the streets and JUSTICE NOW. We were the ones and we thought certainly someone would start the celebration. We realize now that WE ARE THE ONES to start the celebration!! WE MUST DEMAND JUSTICE NOW!

Detroit Rally and March starts this weekend

WE ARE *MARCHING ON* CITY HALL MONDAY & TUESDAY MORNING AT 9AM
WE ARE *CALLING ON YOU* TO STAND UP FOR YOUR RIGHTS AND PARTICIPATE – sitting through a revolution was never the way of accomplishing what is needed.
  • We are NOT WAITING 30 days to claim victory.
  • We are NOT WAITING for Detroit to have more services farmed out to private business by terms of a contract. 
  • We are NOT WAITING for land grabs to be complete and departments to be shut-down sending our residents into unemployment.
  • We are NOT WAITING for our public buses to be privatized, or our water, or our lighting, or other departments.
  • We are NOT WAITING for more of our schools to be yanked from our hands and have our children attending EAA schools established and controlled through Jim Crow Laws.
  • We are NOT WAITING for the State of Michigan to push through new Emergency Manager Laws to “save us” from bankruptcy court.
  • We are NOT WAITING for our elected officials to take orders from the State of Michigan on next steps in dismantling our local governments and schools.
WE ARE THE PEOPLE OF DETROIT and
WE ARE NOT WAITING ANY MORE!
EXERCISE OUR RIGHT TO ASSEMBLE, TO PLAN, TO PARTICIPATE IN GOVERNMENT, TO BE AWARE
EXERCISE SELF-GOVERNANCE THROUGH OUR HOME-RULE CHARTER
EXERCISE WITH OUR FEET IN THE STREET
EXERCISE OUR VOICES HELD HIGH IN REASON AND PROTEST
EXERCISE THE FREEDOM OUR COUNTRY HAS FOUGHT FOR CENTURIES TO MAINTAIN – not overseas, here at home! Our fight for freedom is here at home! We will not be slaves to a state of confusion and despair. Our children deserve to know the hope and spirit of a brighter future. We are not sacrificing to the burdens of devastation placed on us by a CORPO-GOVERNMENT declared state of emergency.

Government SERVES the People – it is their oath of office, it is time to serve as the public demanded through a general election and insist the courts and law-makers of this land follow the will of the people. WE WILL NOT BE UNDONE BY A SYSTEM NOT OF OUR OWN CHOOSING!

Assist us by inviting those that love Detroit to march, to be THE ONES that proclaim the City of Detroit is a held by THE PEOPLE and we will not back-down.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

What To Do After The Emergency Managers Are Removed

Submitted by Stephen Boyle

I believe now is the time we turn attention to the Bankruptcy courts and demand the banks take an appropriate risk to what they provided to the investments held in trust. A number of banks could go under when faced with the burden of supporting the risk they created through unfair lending practices.

LET THE BANKS BURN 
LET THE BANKS GO BANKRUPT 
Local government needs to create and support
value in our communities
rather than a privately held demigod currency.   

There are critical services to the people of cities that will be facing Chapter 9 Municipal Bankruptcy and these cannot be shipped off/privatized. THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THESE SERVICES IS NOT SECONDARY TO DEBT TO IRRESPONSIBLE BANKS. The atrocity of decimating the livelihood of people is far greater than decimating the dollar (a manipulated value at best, and credit standing is likewise a manipulated value).

PEOPLE FIRST

The banks must be in second position to critical services. Negotiation of the amount of debt AND credit standing must be established through the courts. We need courts to act responsibly with the lives they are entrusted. Corporations do not cry, they do not bleed, and they don't experience pain the way people do.

Courts were established to carry out the justice people defined for them to use in governance. Some courts understand the public they serve and others are confused by responsibility to the public's best interest.

There will be resistance and the foundation of the country needs to be upheld. Taxation without representation will lead to civil unrest - which plays into the nationwide plans for a police-state. We are a nation that not only endures unrest - the policies of our leadership has created unrest throughout the world and our creations are coming home to roost.  Corporations have put themselves in a higher position and stuck their hands up the back of political puppets. When the hand of the puppeteer gets severed off the puppet is going to go limp and fall over. Those leaders that resist corporate takeover will remain standing and be supported by the people whom they support.

I could go on and on about the injustices of Emergency Managers and EFMs in the State of Michigan, but what is needed now is a plan forward and correcting the system that has become weakened through sustained sickness. The State is going to attempt to continue the sickness requested by those interests controlling our government. Those same interests that would rather put the country at war physically than face being the source of an internal WAR ON THE POOR.

Stop the enslavement of people to a system that is failing.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Occupy this Blog Detroit: Detroit ... Full of Issues

Being part of a Revolution is a matter of personal investment and the risks we are able to take. How can we work together to see something come from the discussions being held? Is it OK to just hold discussions without action, or is that in some way irresponsible to the cause desired?

Can we make a difference for you, your children, or for Michael (pictured here) who is homeless, can't walk, is confined to a wheelchair and makes it on the streets asking for contributions.

Read more in the linked article...
Occupy this Blog Detroit: Detroit ... Full of Issues

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Greensboro Declaration Release on Sept 12

The National Council Of Elders will be holding an event tomorrow, September 12 at 11am. They will be releasing The Greensboro Declaration in 5 U.S. cities on this date: Washington DC, The Bay Area, Los Angeles, Detroit, and New York City.

Detroit event information:
September 12, 2012 @ 11am
New Bethel Baptist Church, 8430 Linwood St, Detroit MI 48206
Coffee hour and lunch break

 FREE Detroit - NO Consent: Greensboro Declaration Release on Sept 12
Watch for the tag #NCOEGD through Twitter and on Bambuser

Our elders see the coming of a new epoch in society and it is time to organize, rally together and find strength.


Monday, September 10, 2012

Detroit is Injustice Defined

Opinion post from Stephen Boyle

There is a single line from Martin Luther King Jr's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail", written April 16, 1963 that has been quoted often. That quote is "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

When I looked further at the section of the letter it seemed that replacing Birmingham with Detroit seems to make sense in these times of struggle for the City of Detroit. This is how those paragraphs would read with the replacement made, and I believe are words worth sharing far and wide.
Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in _my home_ and not be concerned about what happens in Detroit. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds. 
You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Detroit. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Detroit, but it is even more unfortunate that the city's white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative. 
In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self purification; and direct action. We have gone through all these steps in Detroit. There can be no gainsaying the fact that racial injustice engulfs this community. Detroit is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States. Its ugly record of brutality is widely known. Negroes have experienced grossly unjust treatment in the courts. There have been more unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches in Detroit than in any other city in the nation. These are the hard, brutal facts of the case. On the basis of these conditions, Negro leaders sought to negotiate with the city fathers. But the latter consistently refused to engage in good faith negotiation.

Brutality in Banking and Insurance

In this final paragraph the brutality lays in the manner in which banks and corporations have thoroughly gutted this city over the past 50 years. Development of downtown Detroit stood arrested while the suburbs became the destination for "upwardly mobile" business people. Highways were built to shuttle people to their segregated life devoid of daily interaction with persons of "lower class". It became common thought that success was defined as something you ascended to by leaving Detroit for something better.

Generation upon generation continued to espouse this urban myth, forming a new reality that Detroit was not a destination for success. City leaders have tried to form alliances through corporate, state and federal contacts and yet the public opinion remains stuck. The banks and insurance companies continue to suck at Detroit without relent. Red-lined auto insurance rates make holding insurance on a vehicle more expensive than mortgage payments on a house in the city. Housing prices have fallen and many homes are valued at less than half the cost of replacement materials without labor.

Federal housing agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have not adjusted home evaluation under such catastrophic terms. Banks have preyed on Detroit homeowners talking them into refinancing mortgages and adjusting terms to continue their indebtedness, offering a hollow wall of credit that will not change without a massive forgiveness program for homeowners.

The banks maintain a War on the Poor by evicting home owners struggling with life situations such as loss of work, health problems, and other conditions that are maintaining a . The number of continuously unemployed persons in Detroit is cataclysmic, being over 42%. Our children are born into poverty that their parents and their parents have known no better. How can we fight a war on poverty when the weapons in such a fight are actively being removed from availability. Detroit Public Schools has been under State of Michigan control as an emergency for over 10 years, that would be 2 entire high school generations passing through school. The opportunity to learn has been fragmented by the ruling class through school closings and assignments that moves students from school to school. Combine this with families moving from neighborhood to neighborhood in a quest for work and survival. There is little trust developed in a fractured life when the friends you want to count on seeing become no longer accessible.

We all hope our children have a chance for a better life than we have. That is how we were raised. Detroit families were the first to have been outcast as globalization rolled through the "Motor City" and left as human collateral in the dust of the Industrial Age's height. Through school we learn of expansionism and growth for society and business, and fail to practice contracting when the needs of workers are at risk. Rather than be bothered business just moves to find new workers.

A Demand For POOR NO MORE

Advocates for a moratorium on home foreclosures and evictions have drawn up legislation sponsored by Senator Hansen Clark and are seeking support for change. Detroit will be one of those communities affected by such change. Detroit will need more than financial relief, we need a restructured city that confronts racial injustice and inequality head-on.

Our society has a number of right-wing zealots whom endorse limited government and a free market. This approach leaning toward anarchy is perilous in the minds of hard working people. People whom have worked to build the foundation of society paved with their blood and sweat, and yet these workers have been fighting for basic freedoms against a system of bigotry which reinforces class warfare in a claim to riches.

You can be rich in possessions and poor in spirit when what you claim has been fought for by people whom you leave as derelict workers, offering them a wave of the hand, a thank you, and perhaps a few crumbs from that slice of American pie that is so coveted. Those who cooked that pie hope you choke on the sweetness of gluttony. 

Finding Inspiration Through Perspiration

There are people whom are at the core of creating a New Detroit for the people and in the eyes of the people. They take the terms of beauty and distort it often - beauty can be such a temporal thing, influenced by perceptions of what is normal and significant. It becomes a requirement to question what is of value. Human needs are something we all agree are valuable, but how to meet them seems to be where conflicting and inflicting differences show up.

We have to work at making something from all this stuff, and nonsense - because it doesn't make much sense that we have what we have. Some would say we choose what is in our path, but I can introduce you to thousands of people that will tell you they didn't personally make the choice. They feel as if they were processed like so much livestock through a system that bleeds you dry and hangs you for slaughter.

The system is what we encounter every day. We get to know it through our real world vision and not something that is watched on television or read in the paper or online. How we confront it depends on what resources we have available, and more importantly how resourceful we are in mind and spirit. That is one thing the system attempts to rob people of through abusing the needs for food and an abusive health/medical condition that prevails. The system wins when our spirit and mind are conquered, therefore we must resist and unite in resisting.

Create When There's Nothing Left

Artists carry something very real in the midst of chaos, because it is through chaos that true creation arrives. It is my opinion as an artist that where I'm headed to has a way of shifting as new encounters are made. Listening is the lifeblood of artistry. Being fixed in course doesn't leave you many options and when options rise and fall like flies on a carcass, you simply can't count on them too much.


In parting I'd like to ask you to put something on your bucket list - support local artists. But do something special with that one, never cross it off as done. We need to turn currency within the city in the city more times to gather as much value from it as possible. Hopefully, when I'm making money I can afford to buy you lunch.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Michigan Coalition for Human Rights

Photos from the awards ceremony where Occupy Detroit received the Youth Activist award. Additional award recipients: Gesu Parish/Gesu Peace and Justice Team (Congregational Activist Award), Between The Lines (Media Activist Award), Herbert Sanders AFSCME Legal Director (Community Activist Award), Dianne Feeley (Lifetime Achievement Award).





Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Henry Home Eviction Protest - Occupy Our Homes

We were scheduled to spend an hour in front of the Henry house, from 10am-11am. That became about 30 minutes instead as the group of protesters gathered in temperatures cresting at 20 degrees. Red noses, shivers, and warm smiles peppered the group of protesters. The predominant group appearing were UAW Local 600 workers making over half those coming out in support. 

Speakers from Moratorium Now, Occupy Our Homes, People Before Banks, UAW Local 600, United Steel Workers, and Occupy Detroit spoke to the crowd, and reporters from most news agencies were on site collecting stories. Cameras were clicking and video rolling with battery life marginalized due to the cold. I was there to cover the story with streaming coverage, and photos (when I could find time). I couldn't get the cell phone running ustream to respond to my frozen finger poking through a hole in my knit gloves. The only way to stop the stream was to get inside for the phone to warm, then respond to touch.

Occupy Our Homes encouraged those protesting to come into the house and make calls to Bank Of America. The calls flooded their call center. It was effective - a representative from Bank of America called asking to speak with the Henry family.

Debbie spoke to the representative and was asked to switch the call from speaker phone so they could talk one on one. "Well we've been to the media before, this isn't the first time. This is why we're going to the media, because Bank of America won't help us. Somebody called and offered us a phone call last week and we haven't heard back from them. And its got to end. You've got to get Fannie Mae to help us," Debbie explained to the BoA representative.  

She was told that since the media and public was now involved the situation would go through a different level of interaction in Bank of America - to call their hotline now. I suppose that is like moving from a board room into a war room to handle the mounting situation.

Outside the home Rob Henry was speaking with Channel 7 News and Debbie came out to be part of that conversation. (video) The chants "Bank of America, Bad for America" and "What do we want, JUSTICE, When do we want it, NOW" echoed through the interview being conducted. You can tell the gathering of support was a fragile but warming time for the Henrys as they will be working with Bank of America through this stage of pending eviction.


I came to the protest with Joe Astro who is headed into foreclosure with Bank of America via Countrywide on his home on January 5th. (video) He speaks for a moment with the reporter from Channel 7 News about the need for a five year moratorium on foreclosures. This is how it was handled in the Depression of the 1920s.

The march from the Henry home to the nearest Bank of America branch crossed 6 blocks quickly, receiving honks of approval from passing traffic. Once the group got to the front of the bank the picket line occupied the sidewalk in front of the bank. 


Justin Clark from Occupy Our Homes lead the introduction to the press conference. "Enough is enough - every hard working American family deserves a place they can call home." The bank has said that the decision to allow them to stay in their home is in the hands of Fannie Mae, Bank of America says they are no longer in control.
Debbie addressed the press conference, "Good morning. At last month's hearing we were ordered to move our things from the house by yesterday January 2nd. Now each time we leave the house we can't be sure that our things will still be there when we get back. The banks just keep us in limbo. Its like they forget that we're real people. It would be nice if they could look past the numbers for a moment. But no matter what they decide. This is our home and we aren't leaving. We don't want a hand out, we never asked for a hand out. All we've asked is where do we go for a solution to keep paying on our mortgage and stay in our home. But there is some good news, we have lots of friends four weeks ago there were less than 20 of us. And that was enough, at least to get the bank's attention. Now there are probably over a hundred of us."

"United Auto Workers from Local 600 is there in force.  Once again we are standing up for our families. Even though we might not all be union members, you guys are fighting with us for justice. We would also like to thank Moratorium Now, People Before Banks, and the Occupy movement for coming out here in this very cold morning to show your support. We are one and you are all on our side. We won't lose hope and we won't give up. Our next hearing is on January 19th, please join us there. Thank you all so very much for our support and being there for us."


Steve Babson of People Before Banks spoke next at the press conference, declaring the obscene double-standard. "The banks that trashed the economy are rewarded with subsidies and bonuses for their executives while innocent homeowners like the Henrys are thrown out on the streets." Bank of America took $45 billion in bail out money in 2008-9 and paid $15 billion to their top executives. These were tax payer paid bonuses. The federal government has now assumed Fannie Mae in a silent bailout. 

We need a moratorium for the people to protect them from the banks.


As coverage came to an end I spoke with Joe. He is calling for another march on the main Bank of America branch on Griswold in downtown Detroit.

--story reported by Stephen Boyle
Show support fill out the linked form at Occupy Our Homes.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Update on Library Fight: Victory for the Movement!

Yesterday (Tues, Jan 17) after a spirited rally, clear and passionate statements, and hundreds of petition signatures delivered, the Detroit Library Commission voted to RE-OPEN MONTEITH IN THE NEXT 20 DAYS and passed a resolution demanding that some of the 1 billion dollar surplus money be used to keep the libraries open!

We are not out of this fight. We are having a rally today (1/18/12) at the Lincoln Branch library (1221 E. Seven Mile) at 4:30 to both spread the word of our victory and continue to fight to re-open the other three libraries that have been closed. Only through continuing to build our movement and mobilize can we ensure our victories are real and last, but continue to win.

If nothing else this victory should make clear the we can build a movement that can ACTUALLY WIN. We don't have to be the good guys who always lose. The rich and powerful are not the only people with power. WE HAVE POWER! This victory needs to serve as an example of how we need to fight against all the cut-backs planned for Detroit and Michigan.

With the youth of BAMN in the lead, the collective actions of the community, Occupy Detroit, Friends of Monteith, and the Hull and Russell Street Block Clubs were able to take a militant stand on Dec 22, 2011 that clearly showed both the power and popularity of our movement against racism and austerity. The determination the youth in BAMN showed through weekly actions at Lincoln and other libraries helped to further organize the community of Detroit and continued to express the power of the movement. We need full discussion of this victory, because it can and must be duplicated. We can beat the EM and this victory shows the way!

--- Tristan from B.A.M.N (By Any Means Necessary)