Leading community organizers in the Detroit area addressed a standing
room only audience at Central United Methodist Church on May 4 when
the Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures, Evictions and
Utility Shut-offs presented a representative sample of documents
related to the bond issues and loans that are at the root of the
financial crisis in the city. These documents were released as a
result of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by David
Sole, a retired city employee and former president of UAW Local 2334.

Sole, who is also a co-founder of Moratorium NOW! Coalition, requested
the release of all documents from the City of Detroit related to bond
deals, loans, contracts with financial institutions, e-mail
transactions and all correspondence between the banks and local
governmental officials.

The request was made in January, but it would take the filing of a
lawsuit by Atty. Jerome Goldberg to win the release of some of the
documents requested. Since the documents were released in March, the
Moratorium NOW! Coalition has set up a task force to sift through over
3,000 pages of materials including the terms and conditions of bonds
issued by the city as well as the payment schedules and termination
agreements associated with these transactions.

At the meeting on May 4, the first section was chaired by Debbie
Johnson of Moratorium NOW! Coalition who stressed the significance of
what the gathering was designed to accomplish. She noted that the
appointment of an emergency manager represented the culmination of
years of attacks against the city of Detroit and its majority African
American population.

Johnson introduced Helen Moore, a longtime education activist, who was
the founder of Black Parents for Quality Education in 1971. The
organization fought racism within the-then white-dominated public
school system in Detroit.

Moore also opposed the first state takeover of the Detroit Public
Schools (DPS) in 1999, as the Republican Gov. John Engler seized
control of the district and ran into virtual bankruptcy by 2004 when
it was ostensibly returned to local control. Recently Moore
successfully filed a federal civil rights complaint against the
appointment of two emergency managers, Robert Bobb in 2009 and later
Roy Rodgers, a retired General Motors executive in 2011.

?The appointment of the emergency managers has not led to the
elimination of the debt or the improvement of education in the
district,? Moore emphasized. Since the imposition of emergency
management over the DPS for the first time in 1999, over 130,000
students have been forced out of the public schools, and more than 100
school buildings have been closed along with the elimination of
thousands of education sector jobs.

Impact of Banks on Municipal Government

The second half of the program was chaired by Andrea Egypt of the
Moratorium NOW! Coalition who spoke on her own personal and work
experience through the prism of the devastation caused by the banks in
the communities and within municipal government. Egypt has worked for
the City of Detroit for more than two decades and reflected on the
changes that have taken place during this time period.

Atty. Vanessa Fluker, one of the foremost experts and proponents of
anti-foreclosure litigation in the United States, was given a standing
ovation when she was introduced to the audience. Fluker noted that the
banks plotted to target African American and Latino/as communities in
Detroit and throughout the country for systematic fraud that reaped
tremendous profits for the leading financial and insurance firms in
the country.

Fluker noted that these actions had even been documented in a
600plus-page report issued by Michigan Senator Carl Levin. She
implored the audience to continue the struggle against the banks and
to mobilize the hundreds of thousands in to Detroit to fight back
against the worsening conditions in the city.

Later City Councilwoman JoAnn Watson was introduced as the people?s
councilperson. Watson was one of four councilpersons who voted against
the financial stability agreement that was imposed by Gov. Rick Snyder
on Detroit on April 4, 2012.

Watson has been an indefatigable opponent of emergency management. She
recently was one of two City Council members who voted against the
awarding of a $3.3 million contract to Jones Day law firm to
purportedly negotiate the restructuring of the debt service. Kevyn
Orr, the state-appointed emergency manager, is a former partner at
Jones Day.

This extremely popular elected official noted that Atty. Jerome
Goldberg was invited by her to meet with the newly-appointed city
emergency manager Kevyn Orr when he first arrived in Detroit. Watson
denounced the corporate takeover of the city and praised the work of
Moratorium NOW! Coalition.

Another speaker during this section of the event included Mike Shane
who presented a power point presentation which methodically exposed
that a combination of predatory mortgage lending, credit default swap
municipal loans, and the systematic disempowerment of the majority
African American population created the conditions for the total
usurpation of political power by the state officials acting on behalf
of the interests of capital. Shane also pointed out the support that
Moratorium NOW! Coalition received from at least two prominent law
firms and two national labor unions in scanning, categorizing and
analyzing the contents of the documents received through the FOIA
request.

These documents have been placed on a website entitled
detroitdebtmoratorium.org?which is linked to the?moratorium-mi.org
site of the Moratorium NOW! Coalition. Various news articles have been
published in response to the posting of the documents by the
Detroit-based Metro Times and the Michigan Citizen as well as
Bloomberg News, the Center for Research on Globalization
(globalresearch.ca) and Modern Ghana (modernghana.com).

Other speakers at the mass meeting included Elena Herrada, a member of
the Detroit Board of Education, whose power has been severely
curtailed by the forced takeover by the state. Rev. Bill
Wylie-Kellermann, pastor of St. Peter?s Episcopal Church in Corktown,
also addressed the audience on the need for a cancellation of the
municipal debt.

Both Herrada and Wylie-Kellerman were arrested in April when they rose
to oppose the approval by a 5-2 majority of the Detroit City Council
of the above-mentioned contract with Jones Day law firm. Herrada said
that the information provided at the meeting would empower their
defense during an upcoming trial.

The Moratorium NOW! Coalition mass meeting was endorsed by a number of
organization and enjoyed the volunteer support of significant
activists throughout the city. These endorsers included the National
Lawyers Guild-Detroit chapter, Free Detroit, No Consent, Pastor Edwin
Rowe of Central United Methodist Church, who opened the meeting,
Detroit Eviction Defense, Rev. Charles Williams II of the Detroit
chapter of the National Action Network, Councilwoman JoAnn Watson,
Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, the Southeast Michigan Jobs with
Justice Coalition, among others.

Key volunteers included former State Board of Education member
Marianne McGuire and community activist Sharon Feldman. The Michigan
Citizen newspaper ran ads advertising the meeting for three straight
weeks.

Coming out of the meeting the audience enthusiastically supported a
program which accuses the big banks of creating the financial crisis
and called for the prosecution of these institutions. The meeting also
called for a renewed fight against emergency management understanding
that the job of this functionary is to ensure the banks get paid first
at the expense of city workers and services.

Finally it was made clear that the only real short term solution is to
stop paying the banks for the fraudulent $16.9 billion in debt which
is claimed by them against the people of Detroit. Language from the
resolution said that ?Let?s fight to restore city services, end pay
cuts to city workers, protect pensions, stop union busting and keep
valuable city assets. Put people?s needs before bankers? greed.?

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