Diverse movement for justice grows in Detroit

DETROIT – This past Saturday, Michiganders from across the state joined Detroiters in solidarity as they marched down Michigan Ave to rally at Hart Plaza by the Detroit River. Called the Detroit March for Justice, the diverse coalition of environmental, peace, labor and racial justice organizations took to the streets to fight back against injustice in all its forms. Whether inadequate housing, racial injustice, earning a livable wage, dirty air and water, or the effects of climate disruption, Detroit is hit hard by all.

“See the diversity, this is what a movement looks like,” said Aaron Mair,

Sierra Club national president, as he looked back over his shoulder to the many hundreds assembling before the march. His organization played a leading role in mobilizing for the demonstration.

Dozens of organizations including the Blue Green Alliance, Metro-Detroit AFL-CIO, and Peace Action of Michigan helped to bring the message of uniting their movements for a better quality of life to this city.

We have to find solutions “together” was a theme I heard from all I spoke to.

Regina Strong directs the “beyond coal” campaign for the Sierra Club. She said

“We’re all focused on justice, just different aspects. We’d thought we build strength by doing it together.” Dirty coal joins economic, racial and environmental issues, she said.

Many carried signs shaming the Detroit Water Board for the thousands of water shutoffs plaguing the city. “No man should have the power and authority to cut off anybody’s water,” said former City Council member JoAnn Watson at a post march rally.

Labor too was represented. “Every justice they are fighting for, labor supports. It would be foolish for us not to be a part of this,” said Metro Detroit AFL-CIO leader Tanise Hill. She noted Council President Rick Blocker is a strong supporter of environmental issues.

Vicki Dobbins came on a bus from River Rouge, one of the most polluted areas in Michigan. “Our children have been found to have more asthma, bronchitis, colds, breathing problems than any other area. I’m here because we need clean air.”

Mair said the Sierra Club is “stepping up and stepping back. This is not the Sierra Club. This is a grassroots effort that began last year with the huge climate march rally in New York City.”

He said Detroit has the know-how, skilled labor, and skilled unionized labor, to move from a destructive coal based, carbon based industry to one that creates green jobs. He called on Michigan Governor Snyder to help make it happen. “This city powered America out of World War Two and the Great Depression. We are facing species and climate extinction. It can also power us to save humanity.”

Photo: John Rummel/PW


John Rummel
John Rummel

Activist John Rummel covers events in Michigan. It's not politics-only for John; he loves sports, the outdoors and a cold beer or two!