Baptized With Water & Fire in Detroit

water-photoRe-post from the Jeanie-Wylie Community in West Detroit (July 10):

Two months ago, I listened in horror as Charity told the story of her water being shut off. She tried to appeal to the contractors to give families a few minutes to at least fill their bathtubs. In frustration with the workers response, she called the police. When the cops showed up, they arrested her, telling her she “needed to be taught a lesson.” Her story went on as she described the conditions at the Detention Center on Mound Rd which is now the only place people are taken, is state run, and the conditions are horrendous. As Charity recounted the story, you could feel the power rising in her bones and her voice. A long time water and food activist, she said that the fight has begun. That if there was anything she would be willing to go down for- it would be water. “We need to wage a campaign of love in this city.”

On July 8, Charity Hicks joined the ancestors. On her way to speak at a panel on water in New York, she was hit by a car waiting at the bus stop. I ache. The city aches. Her words, her spirit, her smile, her intentionality, her deep connectedness with the earth and humanity, are running through my head non-stop. I feel so angry and heartbroken at her passing.

Today, a large group of us stood outside Homrich which is the contractor the Water Department is paying to shut off water to up to 150,000 homes by thefall. The trucks leave at 7am and drive into neighborhoods shutting off this basic human right with no warning to residents. No drinking water. No cooking. No cleaning. No way to flush a toilet! Children are put at risk. Today we stood in front of the gates, calling to mind Charity. Dedicating the action to her. Waging love. Resisting the water shut offs is indeed a campaign of love. We have lost site of love, of neighbor, of human dignity, of a city working for the people. Profit has become so much higher a priority than the health and lives of the people.

Ten were arrested today. Pastor Denise Griebler, Sr. Mary Ellen, Teresa Kelly, Justin Wedes, Elena Herrada, Jim Perkinson, Pat Driscoll, Agnus Hitchcock, Pastor Bill Wylie-Kellermann, Fr. Tom Lumpkin (and Baxter Jones in full spirit and readiness). The consequences of these mass shut offs are almost impossible to comprehend. This is our city, our community, our neighbors. This is water- the basic life sustaining force that runs through our bodies and our lands. Love has been waged today. It is one part of an amazing love happening through phone banks taking calls and offering support, door to door canvassing and education, water stations around the city getting drinking water into homes, rallies calling for an immediate end to the shut offs. I am grateful to be a part of this city and community and movement. Love is getting stronger, pouring down the streets, and aint going to stop til each child has safe, clean water to nourish their bodies and souls. Wage love. Charity Hicks. Presente.

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