Hundreds of people are expected to descend on downtown Detroit on Friday afternoon to protest the massive water shutoffs in Detroit after the United Nations admonished the city for potential human rights violations.
Protesters will assemble at Cobo Hall at 12:30 p.m. before marching to Hart Plaza for a rally.
During the rally, registered nurses plan to call for a “public health emergency” as the city continues to shut off water to delinquent residents.
The judge presiding over the city’s bankruptcy case also criticized the shutoffs, calling them “bad publicity” for the city and urged the water department to find ways to help residents pay bills.
On Wednesday, Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr defended the shutoffs, saying assistance is available to those who call the water department.
“Let’s tamp down the verbiage and hysteria out there that we are cutting off water to tens of thousands of people,” Orr told the Detroit News. “That’s just not true.”
Demeeko Williams, an organizer with the grass-roots group Detroit Water Brigade, said Orr just doesn’t get it.
“Kevyn Orr is not understanding the situation of Detroit,” Williams told the News. “Detroit is in dire needs. What he’s doing is putting people at risk. Detroit is in a situation where we have been demoralized. We have been shamed. And now with this water shut-off situation, we’re being run out. It’s not that they don’t want to pay their bills. They don’t have the means.”
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.