July 10, 2014 at 6:33 pm

8 arrested during protest over Detroit water shut-offs

Detroit police arrested eight people Thursday for misdemeanor disorderly conduct as they protested against the city’s water shut-off policy.

Police said those arrested were among 50 whogathered around 10:15 a.m. outside Homrich Wrecking Inc., a company the city contracted for water shut-off service.

Detroit police spokesman Adam Madera described those arrested as “unruly.” He said they were blocking motorists from entering the parking lot at the business at 2660 block of East Grand Boulevard.

The arrested protesters were taken to the Detroit Detention Center and will appear in court and face a fine and the possibility of jail time, Madera said.

The Detroit Department of Water and Sewerage announced in March it would target Detroit households with overdue balances of more than $150, or more than two months behind on bills. Since spring it has shut off water to more than 15,000 homes. The water department released Wednesday a list of more than 200 businesses that could have water shut off for late payments.

In a Facebook post Thursday Detroiter Mary Ellen Howard said she was one of those arrested during the protest.

“With several others, I peacefully held a long banner blocking the driveway to Homrich Co. headquarters on East Grand Blvd. so that their employees could not get in to work and their trucks could not leave to do the shutoffs,” Howard wrote.

“Although we were peacefully demonstrating, they attacked us; it was quite violent,” she continued. “I could easily have been hurt, but I backed off.”

Howard wrote that she has a July 21 arraignment scheduled and several of her fellow protesters want a jury trial.

“Water is a human right, and as the UN has said about the Detroit situation, to deny water to persons who cannot afford to pay for it is a denial of a human right,” she wrote. “We are hopeful that this and other demonstrations will draw attention to the injustice and move it toward resolution.”

cwilliams@detroitnews.com
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