Detroit Protesters Try to Block Water Shutoff Trucks
At least 8 people, ages 58 to 70, arrested
By Jenn Gidman, Newser Staff
Posted Jul 11, 2014 2:13 PM CDT
This photo taken May 30, 2014, shows protesters with Moratorium Now! rallying outside the Detroit Water Department against water shut-offs.   (AP Photo/Detroit Free Press, Jessica J. Trevino)

(Newser) – At least eight people were arrested yesterday in Detroit for protesting water shutoffs in a city where almost 40% of residents live below the poverty line. Dozens picketed in front of a facility affiliated with the city's Water and Sewerage Department to try to stop what activists call a “human rights violation,” reports Al Jazeera America. Police tell MLive that the individuals charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct range in age from 58 to 70 and include members of the clergy. (Watch video of the protest and arrests here.)

The Rev. Bill Wylie-Kellermann, one of the arrested protesters, tells the Detroit Free Press that police tried to "move us forcibly, and we sat down. … We [were] here to appeal to the workers to stop shutting off the water." The coordinator of a local activist group says "police officers should be arresting rapists and murderers instead of arresting peaceful people." A Detroit Police rep counters that protesters still have to follow rules: "You cannot impede pedestrian or vehicle traffic." The Free Press counts 7,210 shutoffs in June, up from 7,556 in April and May combined, as part of what Al Jazeera reports is an effort to recover $175 million in unpaid bills. As of March, nearly half of the city's 323,900 DWSD accounts were delinquent; activists have asked the UN to intervene.

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Jul 13, 2014 1:24 PM CDT
I don't have a problem with Detroit turning off the water of it's residents that are not paying their bill. What I do have problem with it that Detroit is NOT turning the water off on these "entities" that owe large bills. Detroit Public Safety, owes $2.2 million Palmer Golf Club owes $2.2 million Joe Louis Arena/Red Wings Hockey arena owes $80,000 and Ford Field owes $55,000.
Jul 12, 2014 5:02 PM CDT
I WANT FREE WATER. I WANT FREE ELECTRICITY. I WANT FREE HEALTHCARE. I WANT FREE FOOD............ I am afraid that this mantra will be the legacy of the current administration..
Jul 12, 2014 8:36 AM CDT
Our taxes should be paying for water, electricity, natural gas, etc., instead of paying big business oligarchies, (who pay nearly no taxes). Instead our taxes go to million dollar "a shot" missiles and billion dollar planes that don't work. If this was someplace in Africa or the Middle East, Obama would be sending BILLIONS to help. But it is just Detroit. :(