Bankole: Detroiters to Mayor Duggan: ‘Make us whole’
The quest to make Detroit homeowners, who were overtaxed by $600 million from 2010-16 financially whole is not slowing down, according to Agnes Hitchcock, the leader of the activist group, Call ‘Em Out Coalition.
Hitchcock, whose organization convened the first public meeting at the Considine Center at Little Rock Baptist Church, in the wake of a Detroit News investigation about the overtaxation, said Detroiters want to recoup all of the money they have lost during the years documented in the newspaper report.
As a result her group and many concerned Detroiters are planning a mass demonstration at City Hall on Feb. 28 to increase pressure on the administration of Mayor Mike Duggan and the Detroit City Council to compensate struggling homeowners for their loss. Buses are expected to bring Detroiters from every corner of the city to deliver a simple message to their elected leaders downtown: Make us whole.
Staging a mass protest in front of the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center at the end of Black History Month is a powerful way to complain about the black wealth stolen from residents of the largest black city in the nation.
Connecting this latest crisis of homeownership to Black History Month will force the drivers of the recovery to take note as the spotlight is placed on the often ignored racial component of the city’s revitalization under the Duggan administration.
The fact is that many black homeowners have been struggling, and the overtaxation scandal only exacerbates the crisis.
The gains that blacks registered in the decades after the 1968 Fair Housing Act were virtually wiped away after 2000, according to an analysis by the Urban Institute.
“The black community was hit harder than other racial groups by the housing crisis. Black homebuyers bought homes at the peak of the bubble at higher rates than white and Asian homebuyers and were disproportionately the victims of predators who offered subprime loans even to those who qualified for prime loans," the Urban Institute stated. "Existing black homeowners were also aggressively solicited for unsafe refinance products that stripped equity and ultimately fueled foreclosure crisis."
That reality is not lost on Detroit. Since 2013, about 28,000 overtaxed properties have been foreclosed on. Such glaring inequity is fueling the anger in many Detroiters.
Demonstrations have proven to be one of the most effective ways for minority groups to defeat oppression. The gains made during the civil rights movement would not have been possible without consistent mass demonstrations in the Deep South against racist governors and mayors who preferred to keep the status quo going instead of granting equality to black people.
Duggan, the first white mayor in 40 years, will have to step up and make whole those Detroiters impacted by the overtaxation. He should go to bat for them the same way he does for downtown companies who rake in hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks.
Under pressure, the mayor went from offering no solution about the overtaxation issue to saying he has his entire team working to address the problem. His failure to move with all deliberate speed and grant Detroiters their wishes of a full recovery will place him on the wrong side of history someday.
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