To: Detroit Workers' Voice mailing list
April 18, 2016
RE: Report on the Detroit demo of April 16

Stop Poisoning Detroit!

by Mark Williams

The corporate polluters and their political servants treat the working class and black communities as their dumping grounds. But the "ordinary people" are tired of being pushed around. They are tired of waiting for justice to be delivered to them from the established powers. So they are taking matters into their own hands.

This process can be seen even in relatively small actions like the April 16 Demonstration to Keep Radioactive Frack Waste out of Detroit. This demonstration was the second organized to oppose a huge expansion of hazardous waste to the US Ecology Waste Plant. It was organized by the Coalition to Oppose the Expansion of US Ecology. About forty people gathered, including black and white workers, community activists and others concerned.

At the gathering point before the march, short speeches were given by various participants documenting the horrors of radioactive fracking, the racist component of waste dumping in the poor neighborhoods in and around Detroit, and the effort to ban fracking via petition. WWJ radio interviewed a participant. Slogans started up:

"I have a question… Q: Is there something you want to tell the MDEQ? (Michigan Department of Environmental Quality?) A: Deny the Permit! (for hazardous waste expansion) Q: What? A: Deny the Permit! What did you say? A: Deny the Permit!"

A new slogan: "Stop, stop, stop poisoning Detroit's water!" Another slogan: "Q: What do you want? A: Clean water. Q: When do you want it? A: Now! And finally: Hey hey, ho ho, frack waste has got to go!"

While waiting to march the protesters saw a group of about 15 teens walking down the other side of the street come to a halt at the sight of the protest. They were apparently taking great interest. A couple activists crossed the street to explain, and they listened carefully for several minutes and took leaflets. A couple of the teens with cameras came up to take photos of the placards.

Then the march began to Eastern Market, a spacious open-air market filled with customers. The line of protesters marched on the sidewalk on the market’s edge with placard held high and slogans shouted loud and clear.

A lot of people at the market were happy to see the march. There were cheers. Cars honked approval. A couple took placards themselves. Why not? A great many of them are fed up with the likes of Gov. Snyder, who appeared on a wanted poster on a light pole along the march for his criminal poisoning of Flint’s water. Many of them are aware of the crisis in nearby Southfield where oil and gas interests are trying to drill into a residential area and are meeting grassroots resistance from the Stop the Drilling in Southfield (SDS) group. They are glad to see people standing up the exploiters who think they can use their power to get away with anything.

The march eventually returned to its starting point in good spirits with activists promising to meet again for more actions and more organizing. Of course, even a victory here would be no more than a small victory in the overall environmental movement. But it is part of one more front where the trenches are being dug by the masses against the arrogant corporate polluters. <>

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Posted on April 24, 2016