By Kris Hamel
September 24, 2011
Protesters gathered at noon in front of the State of Michigan building on West Grand Boulevard in Detroit on Sept. 15 as part of ongoing Thursday “resurrection marches” demanding justice for low-income people.
Sponsored by the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, the actions draw support from individuals and organizations such as the Detroit Greens, MECAWI (the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice) and Workers World Party.
On Oct. 1, tens of thousands of people in Michigan will be cut off from cash assistance, which is now limited to 48 months thanks to a law signed in 2007 by former Gov. Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat. Michgan’s official unemployment rate is currently 11.2 percent. Approximately 1 million jobs have been lost in the state in the last decade.
The Republican-led state Legislature and Gov. Rick Snyder hope to trim the state budget by approximately $64 million by cutting off limited welfare benefits to poor families and children. These cuts are on top of existing cuts to unemployment benefits, attacks on public unions and pensions, cuts to public education and huge cutbacks in all social programs.
These cuts to the poorest also occur at the same time Michigan-based auto and other corporations are making profits and the big banks continue to reap a continuous bailout from the federal government and municipalities via debt service. These same financial institutions have devastated Detroit and communities throughout Michigan with massive predatory lending and widespread foreclosures and evictions.
An estimated 14,000 poor families — who get assistance of slightly more than a meager $5,000 per year — will be cut off in the first wave starting Oct. 1. Nonprofit agencies, food banks and other “charities“ are bracing for an influx of demand on their already overstretched efforts. Private agencies are trying desperately to provide necessities of life to a growing population of the unemployed and poor, many of them children.
A popular chant at the demonstration was, “Me today, you tomorrow!” People of various nationalities and ages, including employed and unemployed workers, students, welfare recipients and differently-abled activists joined together in solidarity to demand the right to survival and to “Stop the war on the poor!”