Saturday, July 19, 2014

This is not a natural disaster

Yesterday was a big protest day. The Netroots Nation Conference is at Cobo Hall in Detroit. For those who aren't tech savvy Netroots is a gathering of progressive activists. So for this week's protest we teamed up with Netroots, asking them to protest with us. We got quite a crowd! Quite a few more than the 30 we've gotten on many Fridays. Here is the crowd gathering outside Cobo Hall.

The issue of water shutoffs in Detroit got the attention of National Nurses United. Most of them wore red and called themselves the real emergency managers. The group said the shutoffs the reason for declaring a Public Health Emergency Zone in Detroit. Their flyer details their reasons for calling shutoffs a violation of human rights. This is not a natural disaster. Water is necessary for life, health, cooking, hygiene, sanitation, growing food, and a healthy environment.

We spent some time at Cobo with leaders getting the crowd going. At 1:00 we started the march by going behind the brown building in the photo above. A few blocks down the street we circled the Bank of America building, then headed into Hart Plaza. Here's a photo of the march.

Once in the plaza I saw several people dressed like this guy. They're promoting a Robin Hood tax, essentially higher taxes on the rich to fund services for the poor.

In the plaza we had a series of speakers. The sound system wasn't strong enough for the crowd so they were hard to hear. I stuck around for a half hour, then decided I should head to my mother's birthday party. I went to a restroom in the nearby Renaissance Center, then found my car. When I drove past the plaza they were still going strong.

This week's edition of Between the Lines took advantage of Netroots Nation being in town. The staff conducted email interviews with the leaders of four progressive organizations, asking them why their group and LGBT organizations should work together. Two of the four who were interviewed are gay. As one of the questions they were all asked to give three messages to the LGBT community. I've summarized their responses.

Travis Ballie of NARAL Pro-Choice America:
* Gay rights and reproductive rights are supported by a majority of Americans.
* The Millennial Generation is the most pro-equality generation in American history.
* Economic Justice = Reproductive Rights.

Julie Powers of Mid-Michigan Environmental Action Council:
* We need gay voices calling for environmental protection to help be heard above the money voices.
* We're all connected on this planet, your actions can help or harm the environment.
* Environmental advocacy covers a wide number of topics. Pick one that interests you.

Curtis Hertel, Jr. Ingham County Register of Deeds. He is on the front lines of the foreclosure crisis, having to handle paperwork for each foreclosure. He created systems for public integrity of records of land to lessen the ability of fraud.
* Michigan suffers economically from our lack of equal rights. The young don't want to live here.
* Employers won't locate where schools are failing, workers aren't qualified, and infrastructure is crumbling.
* Attacks on workers rights, pay inequality, lack of support of cities affects us all. We must work together.

Carlos Padilla of Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project United We Dream:
* LGBT community should fight for immigration reform because we know the pain of being separated from our loved ones, whether by border or legal document.
* Both communities work to end legal limits to full participation in society.
* We do not live single issue lives.

The overall message: The same bigots and forces of oppression are behind all these issues.

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