Kenneth Kabaka Reynolds President of the Metro Detroit Cab Drivers Association at rally on July 21, 2015.
Kenneth Kabaka Reynolds President of the Metro Detroit Cab Drivers Association at rally on July 21, 2015.

A rally and march in Hart Plaza and at the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center (City Hall) on July

21 exposed the false narrative emanating from the corporate media saying that Detroit is being

revitalized.

Kenneth Kabaka Reynolds President of the Metro Detroit Cab Drivers Association at rally on July 21, 2015.
Kenneth Kabaka Reynolds President of the Metro Detroit Cab Drivers Association at rally on July 21, 2015.
The city emerged from a contrived financial emergency and forced bankruptcy late in 2014 with

billions stolen from pensioners and residents who witnessed public assets taken over by private

interests under the guise of cost-cutting. Over 60,000 households are still facing property tax

foreclosures while hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies are being awarded to billionaires

such as banker Dan Gilbert and stadium owner Mike Illitch.

Despite the propaganda advanced by the daily newspapers and television stations, the majority

African American population has not witnessed any semblance of an economic revival since the

Great Recession which began in late 2007. Well over 100,000 bank foreclosures were carried

out against the working class city while the politicians did nothing to protect the interests of

their constituents.

Even small African American shop owners are being driven out of the downtown and Midtown

areas. Taxi drivers are now forced to compete with Uber Technologies, Inc., a transportation

service which has generated controversy and protest internationally.

On July 21, both the shop and restaurant owners rallied beginning with a caravan from Eastern

Market to Hart Plaza. Bert?s Market Place, a Jazz club and restaurant, owned by an African

American Bert Dearing, has been a threatened with closure.

Dearing had owned the location but lost it to foreclosure after a lengthy illness. The property

was listed on auction.com with a starting price of $700,000 and Dearing says he has until 2017

to resolve the issue or move.

Bert?s has been a mainstay for people in the downtown area and throughout the city. Dearing

opened his doors for a fundraiser in support of people?s attorney Vanessa Fluker in 2011 after

she had been fined by a local Wayne County judge in her militant efforts to save a family?s

home through appealing an unjust decision that had racial implications.

Other small business people were also present at the demonstration who discussed familiar

scenarios. Owners of building have sold to other interests that want the African Americans and

their constituents out.

Taxi Drivers Join Demonstration

In addition to the shop owners and their supporters, the Metro Detroit Cab Drivers Association

were also present protesting against the growing influence of Uber services which they say puts

the local drivers at a disadvantage. Taxi cabs have to undergo expensive inspections, as well as

pay excessive fees for insurance and bond plates.

These costs are compounded with the potential for random stops by the police who often ticket

drivers for various spurious violations such as not having an updated log of trips.

Kenneth Kabaka Reynolds, the president of the Cab Drivers Association said of Uber that ?”They

are illegal in the state of Michigan and they’re operating with impunity.?

Reynolds, a longtime activist and professional photographer, said if Uber is to continue

operating in Detroit, city officials should regulate it like the traditional taxi cab industry. “And if

you’re not going to regulate Uber, deregulate the taxi cab industry.?

During the rally a statement of solidarity was delivered by Cecily McClellan, a leader in the

Detroit Active and Retirees Association (DAREA). This organization was formed in the aftermath

of the pension and healthcare cuts imposed by Judge Steven Rhodes who presided over the

bankruptcy.

DAREA?s leaders were the most vocal opponents of the bankruptcy during the proceedings

during 2013-2014. At present they have filed an appeal in federal court to overturn the attacks

carried out against municipal retirees.

After the demonstrators marched from Hart Plaza on the Detroit River to City Hall for another

rally, dozens of taxi vehicles began to circle the building honking their horns in an act of

defiance. Later the rally participants marched around the building chanting slogans against

current city policies under the administration Mike Duggan, the first corporate-imposed white

mayor in forty years.

Calls for Solidarity Evoking Ferguson and Baltimore

The Moratorium NOW! Coalition participated in the demonstration and addressed the crowd

and encouraged them to endorse the upcoming People’s Assembly and Speak Out scheduled

for Grand Circus Park downtown on Aug. 29. Moratorium NOW! Coalition reminded the crowd

that African Americans still constituted the overwhelming majority of the population of Detroit

and that the people of Ferguson and Baltimore had spoken to the concrete conditions

prevailing in urban areas and pointed to a way forward.

If African Americans are being ignored by the city administration then the streets must be filled

with angry people who are committed to reversing the business as usual atmosphere in the

downtown area, the activists concluded. Despite the claims of an economic boom downtown

and in Midtown, many businesses are still closing, even those not owned by African Americans.

One major problem is the construction along Woodward Avenue, the main thoroughfare in the

city, where the M-1 rail line is being put down. With the disruptions along the street from

downtown to the New Center area, there is no parking on the street along Woodward.

Moreover, the poverty and jobless rate among the people who live in the city is hovering near

50 percent. There are no plans for the implementation of a jobs program locally or nationally

and consequently hundreds of thousands will remain on the margins of the working class.

The People?s Assembly and Speak Out scheduled for Aug. 29 is being held under the theme,

?Rally For Our Future: Stop the War on Detroit! The leaflets being circulated in the city say that

?From Greece to Puerto Rico to Spain and Across the United States workers are fighting back

against the austerity being imposed by the banks and financial institutions.?

A list of grievances and demands on the leaflet publicizing the event calls for the stopping of

police killings and brutality and the jailing of killer cops. In addition other issues to be address

includes the need for at least a $15 an hour minimum wage; health care for all and single payer

now; the halting of tax and mortgage foreclosures along with a demand that the Hardest Hit

Homeowners funds be released to keep people in their residences in Detroit and Wayne

County.

This demonstration will emphasize the need for a moratorium on water shut-offs and to stop

the ongoing attempts to privatize the Detroit Water & Sewage Department (DWSD), which is

undergoing a regionalization process as the Great Lakes Regional Water Authority. The

Moratorium NOW! Coalition along with DAREA is supporting a petition drive to force a vote on

the regionalization of the water services.

On July 21, the same day that the demonstration was held at City Hall, the Detroit City Council

in a 5-4 vote, approved a 7.5 percent water rate increase. These actions prompted by the state-

run Detroit Financial Oversight Committee, which really runs the city in the post-bankruptcy

and emergency management period. These policies will force more people into poverty risking

their water services being terminated.

The Moratorium NOW! Coalition is asking other organizations locally, nationally and

internationally to endorse the Aug. 29 rally and demonstration. Anyone interested in

supporting the initiative should contact the organization at moratorium-mi.org or call 313-680-

5508.

By Abayomi Azikiwe

Editor, Pan-African News Wire, Detroit.

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