Boggs Center Living for Change News – June 5th – June 12th
June 5th –
This year during the 18th Annual Allied Media Conference, The Foundation of Women in Hip Hop will present: Detroit’s 1st Women in Hip Hop Concert featuring Grammy Award Winning Artist Rapsody!
Hear more from Piper Carter, Co-Founder.
Thinking for Ourselves
This Friday the reality of “two Detroits” was brought into sharp focus. One version of Detroit was being celebrated on Mackinac Island as Michigan business, political, and media elite gathered at their annual policy conference. Here were tales of Detroit’s comeback. Detroit is open for business and Dan Gilbert urged people to “think big.”
The other Detroit was playing out in a quiet neighborhood near McNichols and Shafer. Detroit Eviction Defense gathered to stop the eviction of a woman and her children. The case has been mired in a court fight for months.
Those on Mackinac refuse to acknowledge the policies and practices they support are driving a vicious ethnic cleansing related to foreclosures, water shut offs, and the disappearance of meaningful work. The Mackinac elite are determined to create a whiter, wealthier city. In the process they are destroying the very essence of who we are as a city. Increasingly, their efforts depend on the brutal use of force and violence.
That violence was on full display Friday morning. While Stephen Henderson broadcast from Mackinac about Governor Snyder accusing the press of playing the role of Eeyore, the official agenda had no conversation on the foreclosure crisis or the violation of human rights caused by denying water to thousands. Flint barely made it to the agenda.
But the future of Detroit is more likely to be emerging from the streets than from some Fantasy Island. Here is what I know.
Shortly after 6am two Detroit Dumpster trucks came up the street. The drivers accelerated in an effort to scare people away. People stayed put. One driver, confronted with a group blocking the street, turned and left. The second driver pulled up and jumped out of his cab. He shouted at the demonstrators and began throwing punches. After a few short minutes, all captured on cell phones and video cameras, one demonstrator had a broken leg and another a badly bruised neck and cut arm.
Police arrived on the scene. The driver said 50 people attacked the truck with chains and pulled him out of the cab. The police did not want to hear the stories of the demonstrators. Nor were they interested in the video recordings.
Later in the afternoon the bailiff arrived with an overwhelming police presence. They forcefully moved the demonstrators and evicted the family.
This is not the first time this home has suffered an eviction. About 5 years ago the bailiff served papers at the same address. It seems the company that holds the title, Thor Equities LLC, is in the business of issuing land contracts, only to take people’s money, not pay taxes and not pay water bills. Neighbors believe the company is buying up homes, putting them up for land contract, then forcing foreclosure. They then purchase the house at auction under a different name, and start the process all over again.
The direction for our city championed in Mackinac depends on brutality. It pits people against one another. It creates a climate where some of us are willing to do almost anything to others of us, just to keep our job as a truck driver or cop.
Anyone not on Fantasy Island knows that the violence required to protect power and privilege will only intensify as policies of dehumanization are forced on people.
Anyone not on Fantasy Island knows that for decades people have been creating alternative ways of living based on a vision of a compassionate, sustainable future. The clash between these two visions and where each of us stands is becoming clearer every day.
Resisting evictions and supporting Black women
Kristian Davis BaileyLast Friday in Detroit, a Black woman and her 16 year old son were evicted from their home. A Black woman and her 16 year old son were evicted by a court order presented by a Black woman bailiff and enforced by the threat of violence from an overwhelmingly Black police team. A Black woman and her 16 year old son were made homeless by a team of Black workers who tossed all their possessions into a dumpster outside while the police stood by and kept guard.
On Thursday, activists from Detroit Eviction Defense and other community supporters rallied to prevent Jennette Shannon from being kicked out of her home. They prevented the bailiff from illegally evicting Jennette.
On Friday, around 6 am, activists successfully blocked one dumpster from approaching Jennette’s home when the driver decided to leave the site after facing a blockade of cars and people. Just as this driver, left, the driver of a second dumpster almost ran protesters over while speeding down a back alley in an attempt to sneak behind protesters to evict Jennette. When activists attempted to lock down the dumpster, the driver assaulted two protesters, placing one in a chokehold and breaking another one’s leg in the process, requiring an ambulance call and emergency surgery.
The police let this driver go while threatening protesters with arrest and handing out parking tickets to people who used their cars to block the street.
The only thing that allowed a team of some 15 thugs to evict Jennette from her home was the threat of physical or gun violence if we obstructed or resisted her eviction. And it is only through physical and gun violence that the state, the real estate company, and the police have any jurisdiction over the indigenous Anishinaabe land that Jennette was being evicted from. Police and the state quite literally hold up a violent order that places property that is illegitimately held on stolen land over the basic dignity of human lives–and specifically Black lives in Detroit.
The police and workers smiled, laughed, and joked while we watched them throw a Black woman and her son out of her home. One of the movers, when asked if he felt bad about what he was doing, said “I got me a Louis [Vuitton] belt.” Jennette’s white neighbor looked on at the whole ordeal from his front porch and offered no support. He was passed out on his rocking chair by the time the police left and the house was boarded up.The dynamics of Jennette’s eviction helped me see even more clearly the ways in which the state, the police and capitalism are fundamentally violent, colonial, and anti-Black. The eviction also heightened the contradiction that Black people are also part of repressive power systems.
As a young, Black organizer, it’s really important for me to stress one final time that almost everyone involved in evicting Jennette was Black–from the bailiff to the police to the two dump truck drivers. I write almost because the biggest culprit is Thor Real Estate LLC, whom Jennette bought her home from and whose predatory practices have now evicted her. All of the Black people used to evict Jennette worked in the service of a global real estate company that “owns property in key urban markets throughout the United States, Europe, Canada and Latin America.”
So as evictions continue in Detroit, and as Black women continue to be at the highest risk of eviction nationwide (with eviction rates for Black women on par with incarceration rates for Black men), we must understand the centrality of fighting for Black women to our liberation.
More on Jennette’s case: detroitevictiondefense.org/actnow.php#shannonMore on the eviction of Black women:
The Detroit Community Technology Project with a collaboration with the Detroit Digital Justice Coalition, the Digital Stewards and several volunteer station managers, hosted it’s 3rd Data DiscoTech in 9 months.
Here is a video of the Data DiscoTech held in September, 2015 at the Samaritan Center in Detroit.
The 2nd Data DiscoTech was held at Grace in Action in Southwest Detroit in April and at the 3rd at the Boggs School on June 2nd.
The Data DiscoTechs provide intergenerational opportunities to demystify data and technology for even the most novice technologists. They also provide an opportunity to educate residents on the City of Detroit’s Open Data Portal and how it can possibly benefit and impact the community.
Check out some of the brilliant photos from the Data DiscoTechs and the websites for additional information about the important digital justice work happening in Detroit and how you can get involved.
See you at the Allied Media Conference on June 16th!
Thanks to Ryter Cooperative Industries’ Project Lighthouse program, the Boggs Center is now fitted with the next wave of solar renewable energy lighting around the center and alleyway.
Visit Ryter Cooperative Industries at