Photos: Protests over water shutoffs increase, drawing about 1,000 to downtown Detroit

Water protest
All photos by Steve Neavling

About 1,000 people descended on downtown Detroit on Friday afternoon to protest Detroit’s massive water shutoffs, and they were accompanied by nurses who warned of an impending “public health emergency.”

Protesters, including Congressman John Conyers, marched downtown and assembled at Hart Plaza for a rally, where people of all ages and backgrounds converged to call for the end of water shutoffs for delinquent homeowners and landlords. People hailed from across the state and Ohio.

The judge presiding over the city’s bankruptcy case also criticized the shutoffs, saying it was “bad publicity” for the city and urged the water department to find other ways to solve the crisis. 

On Wednesday, Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr defended the shutoffs, accusing protesters of causing “hysteria.”

Many health officials disagree.

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Congressman John Conyers

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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.

  • Mariano_H

    I just learned a few days ago, apparently a large number of the so called protesters were not detroiters, they are paid professional protesters. They also did not want the cops or courts to go light on them, which they got. They wanted to be arrested so they could be in court, and make a scene and berate a judge etc. Bunch of fraudsters.

  • Marian Pyszko

    I see the Communists of Wayne State are alive and well. Also, how did those tax increases by Mayor Jerome Cavanagh work out?

  • Noor Ahmad

    Score! My sign “Where do you expect us to sh**” made it! I was worried many would be afraid to show it. Awesome photos~~always love your coverage/articles!

    • OpusX_X

      Freeloading POS.

      • Noor Ahmad

        <3

    • Dust Buster

      may i ask when they shut your water off? im going to guess they didnt.

      • Noor Ahmad

        Not mine, but my disabled great aunt’s was shut off recently. It’s so hard for us to reach and contact her as is in her vulnerable and unstable state. We’re working on her application for aid at the moment. It’s not easy.

  • Don Davis

    I live in Bay City MI where we pay 3 times the amount for sewer on the water we pay for coming in (highest rate in Michigan) avg bill per month is 80 for 2 people and anyone that doesn’t pay get their water cut off so why should people in Detroit be any different????? These same folks that are having their water cut off all have cell phones in their hands, some smoking etc……..Seems to me you need water more than a cell phone. If you want FREE water, set up rain barrels, or down to the river and get your water. NOTHING is free in life.

    • Tammy Barbour

      Don, that’s a great question. It only seems fair as a consumer. But from a public health perspective, if 10% of the population, let alone 40% of the population doesn’t have access to clean water and sanitation – a place to dispose of bodily waste, then 100% of the population becomes at risk for waterborne and food borne diseases like E Coli, Hepatitus A. In this case, it is the children and elderly who can die. E Coli doesn’t discriminate based on if your parents paid the bill or not. For that reason, there are some steps they should have taken. First, collect the hundreds of thousands and millions owed by the big businesses who have not paid. Also, shut off the abandoned homes. The water in those homes is running being used by criminals and drug addicts. Sometimes pipes have been stolen so the water is just flowing being wasted. Now, make sure that the public knows about programs for those who really can’t pay. Then go after the residents with in waves that do not cause a public health crisis.

      • Don Davis

        I can understand your point of view and I do see the risk to the population and I feel bad for the children and the elderly but all that aside, if you are on welfare, you are allotted an amount for your utilities and if you are elderly, there are many programs in the state of Michigan that can help you with that. But come on, bills don’t get up to 350 or 500 dollars by paying what you can when you can, that comes from ignoring bills. Most utility companies will work with you if you have trouble paying your bill but to totally ignore it until it is shut off, doesn’t hold water with me. If parents can’t afford water for their children, then chances are they can’t provide food or clothes either and should have their children in foster care until they have the means to take care of them properly. If you have money for a cell phone, cable, car payment, big gulp etc but no running water in your home, then you obviously have your priorities messed up.

        • Don Davis

          And BTW, I agree with you also about big business. I am sure Detroit is going after them as well and shutting them off but big business doesn’t run to the media and embarrass themselves by crying a river, they pay the bill and life goes on or they learn to run their business without it.
          Unemployment in Bay City, Saginaw, and Flint is very very high as it is in Detroit but I can assure you that in those communities, if you don’t pay your water bill for 2 months, they will cut it off, no if ands or buts. There are also programs within the welfare system that will pay a shut off one time for you. If the city of Detroit is ever able to recover, lines have to be drawn and commitments followed through.

          • Dust Buster

            but but but what do the poor in your cites do when they get water cut off? aren’t bodies piling in the streets? isnt there piles of feces all over because those poor dont have a working toilet? you must have tons of disease decimating the area,,,,,,right?

            or maybe they just skip the salon or the clothing store and pay their bill because they realize those cities dont tolerate deadbeats

        • Dust Buster

          but you bring logic and adult talk to the table…. that doesnt fly with urban socialists liberals and democrats. they need to show their flock boogeymen then offer the only solution which is handouts. you create a begging class that is beholden to politicians and handouts from other peoples work.

          nothing more than deadbeats and thiefs they are. forcing other people to work hard and be productive so their lazy entitled asses dont have to. sorry but infirm, elderly and disabled need to get taken care of but able bodied adults can kiss my ass. everyone can do something to contribute. funny all of those it takes a village liberals forget the concept when it comes to the care and feeding of their electoral slaves

      • Dust Buster

        but the flaw in your premise is drug dealers, junkies and homeless also need to “shit” (as the nice protesters sign said) somewhere. lets be honest your real concern isnt the spread of disease otherwise you would pick and choose people that “deserve” to get water shut off first and in what order you see fit.

        all of these proteters should be thinking of ways to get people to earn a living, be productive and stop voting for the same losers and same policies that have made them helpless. giant paper mache snyder dolls just prove what assjacks many of these people are. snyder didnt tell the water department to start making deadbeats pay

    • Rosie

      You can flush toilets with the water you haul from the river!!

  • Smartest OneHere

    Let me make sure I understand…people want free delivery of free water to their door for free? Just whom do they think will pay for that infrastructure and maintenance? Why, I will…that’s who. I pay my Detroit water bill.

    Half of these people are freeloaders who don’t pay their bill and lack the discipline to forego the frivolous (cable, etc) in order to pay for basic needs (water). The other half are probably elderly and the REAL poor who definitely need some assistance.

    Finally, the water department is getting a clue. They waited far too long to dun people for nonpayment. Because of that they bear some responsibility for the mess.

    Let’s call it like it really is, people.

    • Dust Buster

      its socialists, gimmedats,unionistas,weed heads,afro racists and white guilt suburbanites. if shauer or granholm were the governor none of these malingerers would have a single sign printed for them about the governor. seriously what would a city of all of these people be like?

      detroit only more diverse with different color faces doing crime and demanding handouts.

      my counter protest message is GROW THE FUK UP…PAY YOUR BILLS…IT ISNT CHRISTMAS AND YOU ARENT KIDS SO PULL YOUR OWN GOD DAM WAGON FOR A CHANGE

  • Mariano_H

    Why is this a deeeetroit thang? Why is this not an issue in any other town or city that is 350k or more people?

    If this was a real issue and not a deeetroit entitlement thing, it would exist everywhere.

    Also I am still waiting for these supposed rights activists to suggest all people get 100 percent free water delivered to their home for free, and waste removed for free. This of course includes large homes with more than 700 per month bills. It includes rural whites who do not vote the way these activists vote. It means every backwoods person in the UP has to not just have water, they need high quality city water pumped to their home.

    This is the proof there is more to this then they want to admit. Very obvious problems are not brought up. If asked they would not want a 6500 sq ft home of 10 acres in romeo getting free water. But why is no one in the media asking them this?

    • Don Davis

      Great point!!!!

    • Tammy Barbour

      A public servant should not cut off so many for people at once that it causes a public health threat to the whole metro area. If 125,000 have no place to go to the bathroom, that becomes a problem for everyone.

      • OpusX_X

        Pay your damned bills, freeloader. Stop expecting others to pick up the tab

      • Mariano_H

        Maybe by law anyone on assistance or aid of any kind their water bill must be paid first by law, before anything else, or its criminal.

        That would solve it. Or have the city bill the state and federal aid they receive and take the water bill right off the top.

        Just solved it.

  • Dust Buster

    wow how did they get john conyers out there? imagine a world is what these people say. imagine a city where they and their policies and ideas could be contained. imagine if only they had to contribute and tax each other for services and goods.

    they do its called welfare, projects or grateful dead touring club. if people spent less time bitching about what other people have and how much of it they need to give away, these people and these problems wouldnt be anything close to the magnitude it is.

  • daymonjhartley

    Gotta say I am impressed with your photography. Even have a nice photo of one of my comrades with the People’s Tribune. 🙂

    • muckraker_steve

      That means a lot coming from you. Thank you.