On June 18 2019 as part of the “40 Days of Action,” the Michigan Poor Peoples Campaign: of a National Call for Moral Renewal, undertook a series of direct actions in and around Campus Martius, center for the development priorities of Dan Gilbert and the administration of Detroit Mayor, Mike Duggan. Gilbert owns some 100 buildings downtown, is constructing a $billion skyscraper (over 60% in taxpayer expense, including school funding), is currently under indictment for predatory loans, is responsible for 1800 mortgage foreclosures (half of which are abandoned or demolished), co-led the Blight Task force selecting building (and neighborhoods) for demolition, and for some is the darling of the city’s comeback narrative – Making Detroit Great Again. The cities footprint is being concentrated and downsized at the expense of poor and Back people who are literally being expelled foreclosures, water shut-offs, school closures, and transit infrastructure withdrawal. Seven people, of the 23 arrested that day, are currently on trial for blocking the QLine (a three-mile streetcar name for Gilbert’s Quiken Loans and built at a cost of $146 million). The “Gilbert 7” did not deny their actions but testified to their reasons and justification for the action, naming the price of racism and poverty. At this printing, the jury has been out three days and is currently deadlocked with half the group committed to innocence by moral necessity. Dan Gilbert has plans to demolish the room in which the jury is deliberating, along with Circuit Court and Wayne Co. Jail, all of which will be rebuilt far from the now largely white downtown. What follows is the closing argument of Rev. Bill Wylie-Kellermann who defended himself in the case.
In my opening statement I thanked you for serving on the jury and underscored my conviction of importance of what we do as one. So again, thanks.
You’ve been instructed by the judge not to read any press accounts of the trial. It would actually be pretty hard to find any. You heard Charles Wilson of Rock Security, Dan Gilbert’s security operation testify that they have a whole unit, a room full of people who do nothing all day but scan the media for reference to him. We’re talking about the landlord of the Detroit News and Free Press here. Continue reading
PC: Michael Raymond Smith
By Bill Wylie-Kellermann
For Danielle and Matt, 4/28/12
new as an egg nested high in the cleft of a rock
teeming precariously, with life,
and ancient, even as the rock itself
fresh as manna glistening the ground
of a wilderness camp
convened in the company of ungulates, angels, and wild beasts.
we travel light, learning this day
our daily bread – and nothing more Continue reading
By Lydia Wylie-Kellermann
This Advent my dad, Bill Wylie-Kellermann, spent 10 days in jail for an action he was part of in the spring with the Poor People’s Campaign. Each night I journaled and shared them on facebook. It was a practice that held my heart steady in a rather chaotic week and a half.
Day 1 of Dad in Jail for Advent
“But who will….”
My morning was crappy. Both kids with tantrums leaving it almost impossible to get everyone where they needed to be on time. On the way to school, I pulled a completely unnecessary turn around, scraped a log next to someone’s driveway which pulled off my bumper.
So, I am driving down 96 to concerning sounds of things scraping against my tires and wind rushing through the exposed mechanics of my car. I am running late, but trying to still make it to see my dad and Tommy Tackett turn themselves in at court today. I want to get video statements. I want to help alert press releases with on the ground information. I want to say thank you to my dad and hug him goodbye. Continue reading
By Lydia Wylie-Kellermann
On May 21, 2018, 16 people were arrested in Michigan as part of the Poor People’s Campaign 40 days of actions around the country. They blocked the entrances to the Department of Health and Human Services. It was a cry against the systemic racism so ingrained in our systems that claim to be supporting the poor. Continue reading
Sermon B Proper 29
“Christ the King”
Preached at the Church of the Incarnation, Ann Arbor, MI,
November 25, 2018
By Bill Wylie-Kellermann
Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14
I do love the church’s liturgical year, setting the rhythms of our prayer, our community life – and, on occasion, our public witness and action. Even when it’s is appropriated by the culture – inverted, inflated, commodified, corrupted – it still stands primarily as a counter rhythm, a different drummer to which we move. Continue reading
Talk by Bill Wylie-Kellermann on the friendship between Bill Stringfellow and Daniel Berrigan
By Bill Wylie-Kellermann. A review of Jim Forest’s At Play in the Lion’s Den: A Biography and Spiritual Memoir of Daniel Berrigan (Orbis books 2017). A shorter version of this was published in the November 2018 issue of Sojourners Magazine.
When Fa. Daniel Berrigan and his brother Philip, along with AJ Muste, John Howard Yoder, and a handful of budding Catholic radicals gathered in 1964 with Thomas Merton at Gethsemani Abbey for a retreat concerning the Spiritual Roots of Protest, the intercessions of that meeting, I am convinced, not only seeded a movement, but fell upon me, summoning my vocation.
Four years later when the Berrigan brothers with seven others entered the draft board in Catonsville, MD, removed the 1A files (of those eligible for sending to the Vietnam War) and burned them with homemade napalm, those ashes too would eventually anoint my life and pastoral calling. Daniel turned that action toward liturgy, toward poetry. He edited the transcript of their conviction in Federal Court into a play of international repute, refused induction into the prison system, and went notoriously underground for four months writing and speaking from the “most wanted list,” before being captured by the FBI at the Block Island home of his friend William Stringfellow. When he was released after two years in the Federal system, Berrigan came to New York City and taught a course on the Apocalypse of St. John when I was a student at Union Seminary. Full disclosure: Dan Berrigan became to me not merely teacher, but mentor and friend. Continue reading