DETROIT, MI — In July of 2014, Homrich 9, nine protesters were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct as they blocked Homrich trucks hired by the city from leaving their facility to turn off the water of Detroit’s poorest, by the thousands. Two of those arrested, long time activists, Rev. Bill Wylie-Kellerman and Marian Kramer, requested jury trials, granted after a 16-month wait. The trial, which began November 20, was abruptly stopped on December 1, before it was to go to the jury. Rev. Bill Wylie-Kellerman gives his account of what happened as follows:
“Marian Kramer repeatedly remarked how it galled her each time the prosecutor called herself ‘the People’ as in, ‘The People object to this testimony, your Honor.’ We represent the people of Detroit in our action and witness way more than the prosecution does.”
“I’d say the jury of Detroiters represents the people— and by an “ex parte” motion and judicial maneuver (surreptitious and one-sided), the jury has been sent home without deliberating. Even this one remaining democratic forum under Emergency Management [a system of corporate dictatorship where state appointed Emergency Managers replace local, elected officials] is suppressed and precluded. We are still fighting to get this case back to the seated, sworn, and instructed jury-in-exile. This motion was brought surreptitiously to Judge Hathaway during our trial by the highest ranking lawyers in Mayor Duggan’s Law Department.”
And the jury will continue to be idle until the presiding Judge lifts his stay on the trial and rules a mistrial or to continue.
Rev. Wylie-Kellerman further states: “Its barely an irony that when arraigned last year we demanded a jury trial because under Emergency Management three-fourths of Black elected officials in the state and ALL the elected officials in Detroit had been replaced by Emergency Management. A jury was then, and even now perhaps, the last vestige of democracy in Detroit. Now we are pre-empted even from putting this case to a vote of the jury.”
“During arguments, the prosecutor explained that they waited until the very end of the trial to file this stay because they had hoped the Thanksgiving break would “dissipate” some of the jury’s focus on the wider issues, but then the defense called water shut-off victims to testify.”
“Returning the case to them at this point is a very long shot. The administration does not want people to hear the results of that vote,” says Wylie-Kellerman.
The prosecution wanted this case to be about disorderly conduct. The defense made it about the immorality of raising water bills so high the poor could not possibly pay them. And then the poor face the threat of removing children from families whose water had been cut off. Newborns, the chronically ill, the elderly and disabled are all denied the human right to water so that corporations can come in and make untold profits. This case woke people up to the true nature of our society and who the real criminals are, so the powers that be shut it down.
“The courtroom was packed and we give thanks for the support,” says Wylie-Kellerman” “We are considering a variety of legal and street actions.”
Waging love, The Homrich 9