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