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Occupy Detroit hits cuts, capitalists

Published Nov 2, 2011 9:25 PM

Occupy Detroit, which was established on Oct. 14, continues to grow and become more organized. The camp entered its second week with actions targeting cuts in services and a local capitalist baron.

Detroiters demand quality bus service, Oct. 28.
WW photo: Megan Spencer

On Oct. 27, Occupy Detroit joined with the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization in a noontime demonstration at the State of Michigan building. There, they protested the state’s draconian cuts in welfare to those in desperate need of help, even while providing corporate welfare in the form of $1.5 billion in tax cuts to businesses. Affecting an estimated 40,000 children, the state of Michigan stopped cash assistance to families on Oct. 1 despite a budget surplus of some $260 million in the general fund and $94 million in the school aid fund.

Later that day, Occupy Detroit joined with the southwest Detroit community group Bridge Watch Detroit and the labor-community coalition Good Jobs Now in a spirited protest at the Ambassador Bridge international crossing to Canada. Billionaire Matty Maroun, private owner of the Ambassador Bridge, is attempting to block the construction of a publicly owned bridge, which would provide much needed jobs. Shutting down truck traffic for more than 45 minutes, the demonstrators demanded that the publicly owned bridge be built in consultation with the community of Delray, where the bridge would be located.

Occupy Detroit organized a march and demonstration on Oct. 28 demanding an end to the massive cuts in public bus service and an end to the attacks on bus drivers and bus mechanics, who are being blamed for the dismal performance of the Detroit Department of Transportation bus system. Demonstrators marched from the Occupy Detroit camp to the Rosa Parks Transit Center and then to City Hall, raising demands for increased federal funding of mass transit, including paratransit service for the disabled community. At City Hall, bus riders spoke, as did Lisa Franklin, president of Warriors on Wheels, an advocacy group for people with disabilities.

Initially populated by mostly young people from the city and suburbs, the camp has grown to include many homeless workers from the downtown area, who are now an integral part of the camp’s day-to-day operation. On Oct. 30, a family day featured face painting, pumpkin carving, art, games and candy. Several actions are planned for the coming week.