During an event to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1967 rebellion, police Chief James Craig and a group of cops removed a 32-year-old Detroiter from a public park on Sunday afternoon for calling out Mayor Duggan on water shutoffs, home foreclosures and gentrification.
Meeko Williams was corralled by police and removed from historic Gordon Park at the intersection of 12th Street and Clairmount Avenue, where civil unrest broke out during a raid on a blind pig in 1967.
“We have not been anywhere since 1967,” Williams yelled out after being escorted from the city-owned park. “We have been shutoff of our water, foreclosed out of our homes. Race relations are terrible. Where is the mayor?”
Williams told a crowd that gathered: “He gave (Dan) Gilbert opportunities over you. … We work for our city services, and we have been robbed.”
Williams told me he decided to speak out after hearing that Duggan, the city’s first white mayor in four decades, planned to address a crowd during an unveiling ceremony for a historical marker at Gordon Park commemorating the 1967 rebellion . By contrast, most of the city’s neighborhoods are still struggling with blight, disinvestment and poverty.
“The police ganged up on me and shielded me,” said Williams, a leading water activist. “I did what I had to do.”
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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.