Detroiters pledge uprising during state takeover: ‘Make sure you are prepared and you will survive’

Kwame Kenyatta, Detroit City CouncilCouncilman Kwame Kenyatta and a packed room of Detroiters warned today of an impending revolt against state intervention, urging residents to stock up on canned food and supplies.

“Even the Bloods in the hood fight for their territory,” Kenyatta said during a 20-minute monologue on the civil rights struggle at today’s city council meeting. “You are going to have to drag me out of here for me to leave.”

Kenyatta cited Frederick Douglass, a former slave who became an intellectual and civil rights icon, because of his position that black people must sacrifice their lives, if necessary, to win freedom and the right to vote. Many in the audience stood up and applauded.

One by one, Detroiters pledged to take to the streets once Gov. Rick Snyder appoints an emergency manager, which is expected Thursday or Friday. Others threatened to block the entrance of city hall.

“Save up and purchase food, canned goods and water because you are going to see a new civil rights movement,” pledged Marie Thornton, a former Detroit Public Schools Board member. “I won’t give up my right to vote. We are going to shut down freeways and we are going to disrupt the economic system.”

Added Valerie Glenn, a community activist: “Make sure you are prepared and you will survive.”

Protests so far have been nonviolent. Demonstrators slowed traffic to a few miles per hour on I-75 and I-94 in the past week. But that’s mild for what’s to come, some warned.

What about black Detroiters who aren’t prepared to fight?

“We have fought for everything we have; how do you sit on the sidelines?” Kenyatta asked.

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Steve Neavling is an investigative journalist, a freelance reporter for Reuters and former city hall reporter for the Detroit Free Press. Neavling explores corruption, the unsung heroes and the underbelly of an oft-misunderstood city.

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Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.