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Response to MinM (Reply #8)

Tue Aug 26, 2014, 10:18 AM

9. The Siege of Detroit: A War of Black Urban Removal

The “pause” in the draconian Detroit water shut-off is just a lull in “an escalating trajectory of systematically inflicted mass punishment and pain designed to make life in the city unbearable for a huge proportion of the population.” Wall Street has declared war against America’s “Chocolate Cities,” demanding “the shrinkage of Black urban populations as a prerequisite for full-scale investment.”

by Black Agenda Report executive editor Glen Ford

“This is a war against a Black city, and a blueprint for future aggressions aimed at shrinking ‘chocolate cities’ across the nation.”

Like the rapist who insists his victim “wanted it,” Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr claims city retirees were expressing “strong support for the city’s plan to adjust its debts” when they voted to accept a 4.5 percent cut in their meager pensions. Corporate media echoed the state appointee’s interpretation of the court-ordered ballot, in which about half the 32,000 eligible workers and retirees participated. In reality, Detroit’s pensioners were violated in broad daylight, stripped of retirement protections and forced to choose whether to die in poverty or an even more extreme destitution.

Earlier this year, as part of the Shock and Awe of state-imposed bankruptcy, Orr threatened to cut pensions by 26 percent, in defiance of Michigan state constitutional protections. He was backed by federal bankruptcy court judge Steven Rhodes, who has brushed aside every objection from lesser, non-corporate beings. Rather than risk the loss of one-quarter of an already meager $20,000 a year pension, 73 percent of retirees and workers accepted the lesser cut, plus an end to cost-of-living increases. This was not an election, but the cruelest coercion – a rape of the elderly, who were forced not only to acquiesce to their own further impoverishment, but to give up the right to challenge the process in court.


“The 82 percent Black metropolis is under siege, in the Medieval sense of the term.”

Orr announced a 15-day “pause” in water cut-offs – similar to a temporary “truce” in siege warfare – as much to give cover to bankruptcy judge Rhodes who, while no less bestial than the managing dictator, seems more sensitive to public perceptions. United Nations experts condemned the shut-offs as constituting "a violation of the human right to water and other international human rights." Thousands demonstrated against the cut-offs in downtown Detroit, and others carried out direct actions, blocking the vehicles of disconnect crews. Two lawsuits have been filed to halt the water-torture. One, by the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, the Peoples Water Board, the Michigan chapter of the National Action Network, Moratorium Now, and a host of individuals, challenges Orr’s actions as a violation of residents’ constitutional and contractual rights. A class action suit, launched by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, says the cut-offs are racially motivated. The private companies that have been empowered to act for Detroit’s Water and Sewage Department “are basically Caucasian companies," said attorney Alice Jennings. "The folks who are being cut off are almost one hundred percent African-American."

And that is, of course, the whole point. The finance capitalists that run this country would like to disenfranchise the entire population so that money could exercise its exclusive “freedom of political speech” and action, unimpeded. In order to generate the least resistance, the model for urban corporate rule must be created in Black America, just as privatization of public education was modeled in the inner cities. White folks won’t care, and Black folks don’t matter – certainly, it doesn't matter to President Obama, who has signed off on the every element of the siege of Detroit (and has been far more effective than George Bush in privatizing the public schools, as well).

Most importantly, finance capital – Wall Street, the people who employ Kevyn Orr and his Jones Day law firm – demands the shrinkage of Black urban populations as a prerequisite for full-scale investment in the cities. Urban assets are devalued by the mere presence of large numbers of Black people, for the simple reason that most white people continue to refuse to share space with African Americans. Therefore, the “chocolate cities” must go, as a condition for urban “renaissance.” (See Black Agenda Radio, July 21, “Banksters Demand Black Removal as a Condition of Investment.”)



PS: We're only on this planet for the blink of an eye. Thank you, MinM, for knowing why it matters.

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