Detroit Activists Arrested After Blocking Trucks Sent to Turn Off Water

Some 50 protesters came out to stop the company contracted by the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to shut off water to nonpaying customers. 

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Protesters gathered July 10, 2014, in front of the Detroit company contracted by Detroit Water and Sewerage to shut off water to nonpaying customers. 

My Fox Detroit Screenshot

Activists in Detroit are resisting attempts by the city’s water provider to take away water from nonpaying consumers, resorting to even temporarily blocking trucks sent to do the deed, Al-Jazeera reports.

On Thursday, at least nine of some 50 protesters were arrested following a protest outside Homrich, the company paid by the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to turn off the taps of customers whose bills are at least two months past due, the news site notes, or owing a total of $150. The arrested activists, who were released on bail later in the day, were charged with disorderly conduct for stopping the company’s trucks from leaving the parking lot.

“I warned the water department that if they did not immediately stop the shut-offs, these things will take place,” Demeeko Williams, one of the activists, told Al-Jazeera. “People are mad. This is the first resistance, and there will be more.”

According to Al-Jazeera, activists have been arguing that with the city’s high poverty rate (44 percent) and higher-than-the-national-average water bills, other solutions should be looked at instead of cutting off offenders from water. The protesters of the action have also been successful in getting a United Nations panel to call the action on DWSD’s part a blow to human rights.

And while some of the action has prompted the water provider to announce a fund to help struggling customers, the shut-offs are likely to continue for some.

The plan to shut off the water of offending customers has sprung from DWSD’s attempt to recover about $175 million in unpaid bills—all while the provider has been accused of giving the state (which owes $70,000) and large businesses (like a golf course owing more than $400,000) a pass, Al-Jazeera notes.

Read more at Al-Jazeera.

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