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‘Turn On the Water, Tax Wall Street’


Marching behind a banner urging, “Turn on the Water, Tax Wall Street,” scores of Detroit community activists joined by leaders of national and international organizations will stream through the streets of Detroit today in what is expected to be the biggest protest yet against the city’s decision to shut off water for tens of thousands of Detroit residents.

Marchers will voice support for the many in Detroit who have been calling for a declaration of a health care emergency in the city and call for an immediate moratorium on the water shutoffs and restoration of water service to those who have had their water cut off.

What:             March and rally calling for a moratorium on water shutoffs

When:            Friday, July 18

March:           1 p.m. Cobo Center, corner of Washington and W. Congress St., Detroit

Rally:             1:45 p.m. Hart Plaza, Detroit

See a live stream of the rally at

National Nurses United, the largest U.S. organization of nurses, is the lead sponsor of the action. Support has been rapidly building with major endorsements and participation from among others the International Union United Automobile, Aerospace & Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW AFL-CIO), Netroots Nation which is holding its convention in Detroit this week, Food and Water Watch, Michigan Sierra Club, and the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions.

Internationally known actor Mark Ruffalo and musician/songwriter Tom Morello also voiced support for the action, urging support, on twitter.

Speakers at stages of the march and rally are expected to include: NNU Co-President Jean Ross, RN, UAW President Dennis Williams, Historic King Solomon Baptist Church of Detroit Rev. Charles Williams II, Detroit Board of Education member Elena Herrada, nationally syndicated columnist John Nichols, We the People of Detroit Founder Monica Lewis-Patrick, Michigan Nurses Association President John Armellegos, RN,  Michigan Welfare Rights Organization Chair Maureen Taylor, Metro Detroit AFL-CIO President Rick Blocker, Lila Cabbil of People’s Water Board, and Abayomi Azikwe of Moratorium Now, Cecily McClellan of Detroit Active and Retired Employees, community activist Jean Vortkamp, and Bonnie Castillo, RN, director of NNU’s Registered Nurse Response Network.

NNU is also sponsoring a radio ad on the protest

The event will also call for a tax on Wall Street speculation which could raise hundreds of billions of dollars for communities like Detroit which have been pummeled by recession, unemployment, and other pain directly linked to the Wall Street meltdown and plunder of major urban areas. The Robin Hood tax on Wall Street trading, is embodied in HR 1579, sponsored by Rep. Keith Ellison, to rebuild Detroit and the rest of America.

Rally supporters charge that Gov. Rick Snyder and emergency manager officials are enforcing the water shutoffs to promote the privatization of the public water supply, the latest gift, they say, to Wall Street financial interests who have bankrupted the city.

‘Dangerous public health crisis’

“Cutting off water to community residents is a disgraceful attack on the basic human right of access to safe, clean water,” said NNU Co-President Jean Ross, RN. “Nurses know the critical link between access to water and public health. Lack of water, like unsafe sanitation, is a major health disaster that can lead to disease outbreaks and pandemics. The city must end this shutoff now.”

“The water crisis is just the tip of the spear of what is a much greater systemic problem in America,” said Monica Lewis-Patrick, citywide outreach coordinator of We the People of Detroit and member of the People’s Water Coalition. “People need housing, good jobs, equal access to quality education and affordable health care and of course what we are now dealing with here, access to clean affordable water which is a basic human right. It is my hope that everyone who is coming to Detroit to take part in the protests also takes away the story of resilience and perseverance of the people of Detroit. I’ve been going to door to door to assist people and what I’ve witnessed is that in the midst of all these trials folks are together forging the beloved community.”

“It appears the black out on this water crisis is broken and the consciousness of the world has finally been piqued. People around the world are beginning to focus on this domestic terrorism and we welcome every eye!” said Maureen Taylor, state chairperson of Michigan Welfare Rights Organization.

“The situation in Detroit is a major crisis, said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter. “When 45 percent of water customers struggle to pay their water bills, it is clear that this is not just a problem with delinquent payment–it’s indicative of broader, systemic issues resulting from decades of policies that put profits before people. These shutoffs are a thinly veiled precursor to privatizing Detroit’s water, which will only make matters worse. We urge Detroit’s leadership to turn the taps back on and keep water there in public hands so that all residents can have affordable access to this vital resource.”

“This dangerous public health crisis is further proof that we don’t have a bankrupt city – we have a bankrupt system,” said John Armelagos, RN, president of the Michigan Nurses Association. “It’s disgraceful to have children in the wealthiest nation on Earth on the edge of living in third-world conditions. When people don’t have access to water to bathe and brush their teeth with, they and their families, and the whole community, are at risk for disease. Water is a human right and Kevyn Orr should put human needs above any agenda set by corporations that only want to further exploit Detroit.”

“We’re proud to stand in solidarity with the organizers working hard to stop these water shutoffs,” said Raven Brooks, Executive Director of Netroots Nation. “It’s vitally important for us to use our platform to amplify their message.”


Big March and Rally Today in Detroit to Protest Water Shutoffs was originally published on

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