Editor’s note: Information for this story is drawn from various press releases.
“We blocked all the doors (and eventually the parking lot) of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) headquarters, plus surrounded the building with crime scene tape because of environmental concerns,” said Rev. Bill Wylie-Kellermann, one of some 30 people arrested. Concerns included the role of the MDEQ in the Flint water poisoning, oil spill threat of Enbridge’s Line 5, and permitting the expansion by US Ecology and Nestlés in the Great Lakes.
The action was part of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. “This contributed to the largest focused and coordinated campaign of civil disobedience in US history . . . the MDEQ needs to make public health the priority, not corporate profit,” said Wylie-Kellermann.
“Some of those arrested took a ‘diversion program’ offer. Others pled ‘no contest’ to a misdemeanor. Thirteen prepared for a trial;” Rabbi Alana Alpert; Carolyn Baker; Claire McClinton; Justin Sledge; Carlos Santacruz; Baxter Jones; Rev. Liz Theoharris; Rev. Deb Hansen; Rev. Ed Rowe; Rev. Bill Wylie-Kellermann; Richard Levey; Sylvia Ordono; and Leah Wiste.
Chief Judge Louise Alderson postponed the trial to June to allow sufficient time to consider the applicability of allowing a defense of ‘Justification/Necessity’. Two days later, the prosecution dismissed all charges against all defendants—rather than face the likelihood of acquittal based on ‘necessity’.
“Poor people don’t have but a couple of avenues to fight in. We got the legislature, the court, and the streets. We hope for the days where we can organize ourselves, where we got a contingent of people that control the legislature, a contingent of people that control the courts, and a contingent of people that control the streets! ‘Cause that’s all we got!” said Carolyn Baker, quoting her father, the late General Baker, Jr.
“I’m honored to have had the opportunity to practice this kind of moral leadership with such an amazing group of spiritual warriors,” said Rabbi Alana Alpert.
“To enable a tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac, a massive investment in a dirty energy past, is perverse. The solution is clear: #shutdownline5 #cleanenergyNOW!”said Reverend Deb Hansen.
“The long suffering residents of Flint are thankful for the opportunity to be a presence in the actions that took place in June of 2018. While we savor in the victory of charges dropped. We still have a toxic water problem. We still have a community wide Health crisis problem. We still have a Democracy problem. Last but not least, we still have a relentless drive by bondholders and other corporate interests to steal our water rights. The struggle continues,” said Claire McClinton.
(Quotes are from www.michiganppc.org)