ACLU and NAACP Legal Defense Fund to Hold Wednesday Virtual Press Conference on Detroit Water Shutoffs Lawsuit and Ongoing Fight for Affordable Water
CONTACT: Dana Chicklas, (734) 945-8857, firstname.lastname@example.org
The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan (ACLU) and NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) legal team will be in court Feb. 3 at 9:30 a.m. to oppose a motion to dismiss our class action lawsuit demanding a permanent end to water shutoffs in Detroit and the institution of a meaningful water affordability program for low-income residents. A virtual press conference will immediately follow the hearing to update the media about the case, as well as the ongoing advocacy of the coalition of civil rights organizations to not only make water affordable for Detroit residents, but all people in Michigan.
This lawsuit, filed in July 2020, is the latest in the coalition’s ongoing effort to end water shutoffs, which disproportionately harm Black communities. Water shutoffs also put vulnerable people at greater risk for malnutrition, contracting illness, and even death before, during, and after this pandemic. The coalition is advocating for water to be billed at affordable rates, such as a sliding scale based on household income so low-income people pay a lower rate for the water they need to survive.
“Because of the City’s history of failed projects to address the water shutoffs crisis, we remain skeptical of Mayor Duggan’s December announcement that his administration will work on a ‘permanent water affordability solution at the state and federal level.’ If the City is serious, it will agree to a court order that requires the administration to make good on the Mayor’s promise,” said Mark Fancher, ACLU of Michigan Racial Justice Project staff attorney. “A moratorium on water shutoffs is essential to deal with the current emergency, but it is not a permanent solution. Detroit officials must find new approaches to billing and collection and put an end to the cruel and racist tactic of shutting off residents’ running water for outstanding balances that are unaffordable.”
“Low-income residents must be able to afford their water bills in order for them to lead healthy and secure lives in their own homes, and for the city to collect utility payments,” said Coty Montag, Senior Counsel at LDF. “Black communities must have access to clean, affordable water. Rather than expend efforts to throw out our lawsuit, we urge city and state officials to instate a meaningful water affordability plan and end the racial discrimination resulting from Detroit’s water shutoff policy.”
Coty Montag, LDF Senior Counsel
Jason Bailey, LDF Special Economic Counsel
Mark Fancher, ACLU Racial Justice Project Staff Attorney
Wednesday, February 3, 2021, immediately following the hearing.
To watch the hearing in U.S. District Court, you may request access to in−court proceedings at: www.mied.uscourts.gov
ZOOM PRESS CONFERENCE LOGIN:
Or join by phone: (877) 853-5247
Meeting ID: 837 2984 2681
This press conference will also be live-streamed on the ACLU of Michigan Facebook page.
Case background, filings, and work on this issue over the years are at:
You are invited to join virtual court proceedings this Wed, Feb. 3rd at 9:30am ET in the case, Taylor et al v. Detroit, City of, et al(case 2:20-cv-11860-DPH-APP) in U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, for which People’s Water Board Coalition is a plaintiff.
See Zoom video link and phone numbers below.
Class Action Complaint — JACQUELINE TAYLOR, LISA BROOKS, MICHELE COWAN, TUANA HENRY, MATTIE MCCORKLE, RENEE WILSON, and PEOPLE’S WATER BOARD COALITION, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated,
CITY OF DETROIT, a Municipal Corporation, through the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, its Agent; GOVERNOR GRETCHEN WHITMER, in her official capacity; MAYOR MICHAEL DUGGAN, in his official capacity; and GARY BROWN, in his official capacity.
Plaintiffs’ (excellent!) attorneys include: Mark Fancher, ACLU of Michigan Racial Justice Project; Alice B. Jennings, founding partner of Edwards & Jennings, PC; Coty Montag, Senior Counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.; Lorray Brown of the Michigan Poverty Law Program; Monique Lin-Luse and Jason Bailey of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.; Dan Korobkin and Bonsitu Kitaba- Gaviglio of the ACLU of Michigan; and Detroit attorneys Melissa El Johnson and Kurt Thornbladh.
For the Defendants, the State of Michigan’s attorney is Mark Sands and the City of Detroit’s attorney is Hallom Stanton.
In brief, the Defendants have filed a Motion to Dismiss this case because Detroit Mayor Duggan has announced water services will not be disconnected through the year 2022. However, this is not definitive and doesn’t guarantee water service shut offs will be permanently ended — plus, there is no water affordability policy and a temporary stoppage isn’t enough. Per Attorney Jennings, the Plaintiffs’ attorneys have filed responses to the Defendants’ Motions protesting the dismissal of this class action case.
ZoomGov Webinar: https://www.zoomgov.com/j/1619386023?pwd=MFhDUEpIMGZrak1vZkIwQWhzOE9iUT09
One-tap Mobile: +16692545252,,1619386023#
Or Call: 669-254-5252
Webinar ID: 161 938 6023
Please share widely and pack the online court!