DETROIT, April 5, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Over 2,000 citizens both young and seasoned, and members of community activist groups joined forces in protest of a bill that passed through the Michigan Senate earlier this month that will give city Financial Managers broad powers; striping voters of their right to elect such officials. Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and State Governor Rick Snyder were both proponents of the legislation. The well organized march took place at the Coleman A. Young Building in Downtown Detroit this Monday afternoon. The crowd chanted slogans like "They say cutback, we say fight back," and "Bankers got bailed out, workers got sold out," and carried signs and banners to Hart Plaza's Labor Legacy Monument.
The new bill passed through the Republican-led Senate to a 26-12 party line vote. Supporters of the bill say that it would lead to earlier intervention by the state, perhaps avoiding the need to appoint an Financial Manager at all. Opponents of the legislation are concerned because it will give the managers, appointed by Governor Rick Snyder, the power to terminate union contracts and strip local elected officials of most power.
The day of the protest in front of the Spirit of Detroit marks the 43rd anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who died in Memphis in 1968 while defending the collective bargaining rights of sanitation workers in the city.
On March 29th, 1968, King went to Memphis in support of the black sanitary public works employees, represented by a local union, who had been on strike for two weeks for higher wages and better treatment. On April 3rd, King delivered his "I've Been to the Mountaintop" address, historically 2nd only to his iconic "I Have a Dream" speech.
In the early evening hours of April 4th, King was shot at the Lorraine Motel as he was leaving his room, accompanied by the Reverend Ralph Abernathy and Jesse Jackson.
Like the late Dr. King, the marchers are fighting for collective bargaining rights. Wielding protest signs, citizens chanted for Detroit city representatives Saunteel Jenkins and Brenda Jones to take action to remove current City Pension's General Counsel, Ronald Zajac, currently under a federal investigation regarding his misappropriation of the city's pension fund.
Garrick Simpson, 57, of Detroit, a member of AFSCME Local 542, has been employed with Detroit Parks and Recreation for 28 years.
"We're protesting the recent actions by Mayor (Dave) Bing and Gov. (Rick) Snyder. They don't have the right to mess with our pensions and jobs. We've had enough, and we can't take any more concessions. Hopefully, they should get the point that it's the people who run the city."
The Detroit Free Press reported a few months earlier that Mayor, Dave Bing, was among the first to suggest that the management of Detroit worker's pension be redirected to the state. Bing's favor of the legislation, amid rumors that Michigan Governor Snyder could nullify the City Council and subsequently name the former steel mogul, the Pension's Financial Manager was met with public outcry and riots leading up to the march.
Among the groups represented at the march were the Community Coalition; the Shrine of the Black Madonna's political arm; Black Slate; the Marcus Garvey Group; Citizens Against Violence; Black Panthers; and numerous union members.
SOURCE Community Coalition