If Detroit Blows, Will Water Shutoffs Feed The Fire?

Image Credit: Circle of Blue
Image Credit: Circle of Blue

Without water, the fire will burn.

Ever since the civil unrest occurred in Ferguson, Missouri, sparked by the murder of Michael Brown by a police officer who got away with it, there have been anxious questioners wondering where else this type of unrest might catch fire. After all, as more recent events of police brutality have begun to scream out from the nation’s headlines, it is increasingly evident even to the willfully blind that something is terribly wrong. And it’s not the protesters.

Not surprisingly, Detroit is one of those cities some people are referring to when they voice nail-biting concerns about which “urban” city is likely to blow up next. Even though Detroit hasn’t experienced a major uprising since the devastating event of 1967, the memory of that occasion, combined with the inescapable knowledge of the city’s persistent battles against poverty and discrimination, are enough to cause even supporters to look over their shoulder, wondering if maybe there isn’t a ticking time bomb tucked away hidden beneath the shiny veneer of the highly-touted ‘comeback’ led by the boomtown mania surrounding downtown.

As a resident who does try to pay attention to what the neighbors are saying, I’ve heard opinions ranging from somewhat disappointed radicals (and I do not in any way use the word ‘radical’ in a negative sense because many of this city’s strongest champions have been the radicals) who claim that Detroiters are simply too beaten down to rise up anymore, to those who insist that there is a simmering anger beneath the surface suggesting Detroit may indeed be ripe for another rebellion, or riot, or whatever your term of choice happens to be when folks get sick and tired to the point where they just lose it.

Personally, while I hate the image of Detroiters being so beaten down that they can’t stand up for themselves, I’m not one of those who would be disappointed if the city didn’t erupt. On the other hand (I know, I hate that term too), I also happen to believe that unless this city figures out a better way to resolve the water shutoff crisis – or what is about to become a crisis very soon – that therein lies the potential spark for rebellion. It won’t require an organized effort any more than what happened in ’67 was organized. All that needs to happen is for an angry incident to ignite as the result of someone whose water was shut off, followed by an overheated response to that incident, and there you go.

Sure, we could sit here and debate issues such as whether or not water is a human right (water is free, but water sanitation/pipe maintenance/etc. is not), and how many are refusing to pay vs. how many are truly needy, and on and on. And these are valid discussions. Seriously, they are.

And the validity of those discussions won’t matter one bit once this city gets too hot and the water is shut off.

8 Replies to “If Detroit Blows, Will Water Shutoffs Feed The Fire?”

  1. Why aren’t the million dollar + Golf Courses shut off?

    Miraculously, they keep getting their taxpayer-financed water…

  2. I had a friend in Livonia Mi, and they bought a house there decades ago when they both had good jobs and payed the mortgage off. Then thing started going down and they couldn’t walk away so they kept paying for the house and it was losing value over the years as they put more and more into it. They are still there and when it sells someday it will be for less than they paid for it, that’s for sure.

    I have lived in places with well water, county tax bill including water fees, and now I live somewhere actual gallons are counted and you pay by how much you use.

    Detroit has long been drastic and on the edge. There comes a point when it gets to all be too much. They do have a point about the pipes and the other side of the situation is right too – what about people who are barely hanging on and can’t pay and NEED water. It isn’t right. I hope they find a way to calm things before it does blow.

  3. Michigan, a state just about surrounded by some of the biggest fresh water lakes in the world.

    And they can’t be bothered to let folks have any fresh water.

    This mindset, is all too common in the circles of Republicans. This mindset- is a cancer.

  4. boomer, you note “Personally, while I hate the image of Detroiters being so beaten down that they can’t stand up for themselves,….”

    are the residents so beaten down, or just tired of the bullshit where nothing seems to get done, year after year of complaints and the problem never solved, someone else always profiting at the expense of another. it gets so exhausting, nothing is solved, and you just give up.

  5. If you want to drink the water from the great lakes you go right ahead. They are only called fresh water because they have no salt. That is some of the most polluted water in the country. The clean water act from the 70’s was made because of the great lakes pollution. It came to the countries attention when the Cuyahoga river caught on fire.
    I live in Ohio and have been on numerous fishing trips to lake Erie, #1 rule don’t eat the fish. Too much pollution.

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