The Socialist Equality Party held a meeting Wednesday evening near Wayne State University in Detroit to oppose the city’s campaign of mass water shutoffs against residents who cannot afford their bills. Detroit city workers, students, retirees and others attended the event.
In his opening remarks, D’Artagnan Collier, a Detroit city worker who ran as the SEP candidate for Detroit mayor last year, condemned the order by Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr to shut off water to up to 3,000 households in the city per week. “It is critical that all sections of the working class come together against the brutal action,” said Collier. He noted that as summer approached the threat to the health of city residents forced to live without water was “extreme.”
Collier explained that there was mass hostility to the measures taken by Orr and the bankruptcy court to attack city worker pensions and sell off public assets, including the threatened privatization of the water and sewerage system. The trade unions, however, were not opposed to the bankruptcy and more than willing to sacrifice the needs of workers in order to pad the payrolls of the union executives. That is why, he said, the SEP was initiating the fight to mobilize the working class independently of the unions and the Democratic Party and the profit system they defend.
“We believe that utilities should be a basic social right guaranteed to all,” Collier declared
Next to speak was Lawrence Porter, assistant national secretary of the Socialist Equality Party and chairman of the Workers Inquiry into the Bankruptcy of Detroit and the Attack on the DIA & Pensions held by the SEP last February. “What is taking place in Detroit is a social crime being carried out by a virtual dictatorship,” he said. “This has enormous implications for the working class throughout the country and the world.”
Porter explained that racial politics had long been used in Detroit to divide the working class and obscure the fundamental class issues. “One out of every six children in the US go hungry,” said Porter. That is not a race issue—that is a question of poverty.”
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