Michael Doc Holbrook explains the problems in Detroit
Netroots Nation 2014 is in Detroit this year. It is fitting that on my way back to the hotel immediately after registering for the conference, I ran into Michael Doc Holbrook. After stopping at the waterfront, Hart Plaza to take in the view, Michael Doc Holbrook rode up on his bike. We had a pleasant conversation. It wasn't long before I realized we shared a lot in common. He is a political activist. I immediately asked him for an interview. He was kind enough to say yes.
Talking to Mr. Holbrook was made more relevant based on an incident that occurred last week. MSNBC had an interview with Detroit Reporter Hank Winchester and Maureen Taylor, a community activist and State Chair of Michigan Welfare Rights Organization. The topic was about the water department in Detroit shutting off the water to residents owing $150 or more. Interesting enough there were corporations who owed thousands, tens of thousands, and even hundreds of thousands who would not and had not suffered the same fate. The water department was willing to shut off the water of the poor and the needy at the rate of over 3000 a week while leaving the ‘golf course’s’ water on.
Maureen Taylor went ballistic as Hank Winchester made a rather insensitive statement. He said some of the residents would rather pay their cable bill than their water bill. While that statement may be true for some residents in any community, the dog whistle was clear.
After writing about the interview in a blog post at DailyKOS and at my website, the post went viral. Hank Winchester took a lot of incoming flak from many local Detroit blogs. He contacted me and accused me of editing the video out of context. The edits were made like any other edits to take out superfluous and duplicated info in order to make it shorter for the viewer’s limited time.
Suffice it to say, talking to Michael Doc Holbrook about Detroit’s woes was educational and informative. Unlike having a reporter misrepresent the plight of Detroiters, Holbrook represented someone from the community, an activist embedded in the realities of the city.
Michael Doc Holbrook spoke about a city with an infrastructure to support 2 million people trimmed to 700,000 because of the deindustrialization of the area that started in the 1950s. He said corrupt politicians are using Detroit’s economic situation to acquire properties now considered lucrative, from poor owners.
“This is the only city in America,” Michael Doc River said. “poor people ever had property on the riverfront. And they are taking that away now.” He said Detroit’s real problem is the lack of leadership. Detroit is currently run by an omnipotent emergency manager appointed by the governor. Mr. Holbrook said that Detroit’s emergency manager Kevyn Orr, the governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder, and the Mayor of Michigan, Mike Duggan went to law school together. “You figure it out,” Holbrook said. “How this came to be.”
Michael Doc Holbrook said there will be a large protest at the COBO Convention Center in downtown Detroit. As well, this is where Netroots Nation 2014 is taking place. Many from Netroots Nation 2014 will participate. Maureen Taylor will be a member on a panel at Netroots Nation 2014 titled “Fighting for Democratic Practices after an Emergency Manager Takeover in Michigan: Report from the Trenches.”
One wonders if when the choice was made to have Detroit host Netroots Nation 2014 whether it was known that the event would take part in an ongoing movement in a city trying to find its way like many cities throughout the country. One wonders if the media and high powered politicians Netroots Nation 2014 will bring to the city all at once will play a part to elevate the plight not only of Detroit but other major urban areas into the national discourse.
It is time that it does. It should. It must.