McKinney a Commissioner of Detroit Water Truth Bd 5/3/08

Cynthia McKinney, a presidential candidate for the Green Party, along with the Green Party, supports the right of people to water. The Green Party of the United States has “called for the US to support a United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) resolution declaring clean water a universal human right. The US and Canada are the only two nations objecting to UN recognition of the right to water.” (Green Party Press Release of March 26, 2008 — http://www.gp.org/press/pr-national.php?ID=41)

Willie Baptist, a former homeless father, is currently the Scholar-in-Residence for the Poverty Initiative of the Union Theological Seminary in New York. Cynthia McKinney and Willie Baptist will be joined by local activists and community leaders serving as Commissioners including Bankole Thompson of the Michigan Chronicle and Elena Herrada of Centro Obrero.

Truth Commission for Water Rights, May 3, will hear testimony from Detroiters who have been deprived of water.

Cynthia McKinney, Green Party presidential candidate, is one of the Commissioners.

Tens of thousands of Detroiters have lost access to water. Michigan Welfare Rights Organization (MWRO) initiated the Truth Commission to expose this violation of human rights. Cynthia McKinney, Green Party presidential candidate, along with Willy Baptist, Scholar-in-Residence of the Poverty Initiative of the Union Theological Seminary of New York, are among the Commissioners hearing the testimony.

The Truth Commission for Water Rights will be held at Central United Methodist Church, 23 E. Adams in Detroit, May 3, from 10 am to 3 pm. Initiated by the Utilities Committee of Michigan Welfare Rights Organization (MWRO), the Truth Commission welcomes all Detroiters to testify on the effects of water shutoffs on their lives, their families, their neighborhood and their city. The Truth Commission will gather testimony to present to the United Nations, issue a report and recommendations.

The publicly-owned Detroit Water and Sewerage Department’s (DWSD) figures for 2007 indicate that over 45,000 people living in Detroit have had their water cut off. Job losses, cuts in federal and state assistance, increasing water rates along with an inadequately-funded and poorly-administered water assistance program are among the reasons that Detroiters lose access to water.

“Water is a human right,” said Maureen Taylor, chairperson of Michigan Welfare Rights Organization. “It is unconscionable that a publicly-owned utility can be so disrespectful and callous towards its owners, the people of Detroit to deprive them of water, which is essential for life.” MWRO’s office phone rings daily with Detroiters calling for help with water shutoffs.

“With a Truth Commission, we can not only educate everyone about the human health hazards for our children and seniors, in particular, of water deprivation,” said Marian Kramer, president of the National Welfare Rights Union and a winner of this year’s Purpose Prize, “but we can organize people to fight for their right to water.”

In a situation that can only be called double jeopardy, children whose parents have had their water cut off can be taken from them because Protective Services considers them unfit parents. Detroiters can lose both their water and their children.

Wayne County and the DWSD have also agreed to attach old water bills to property taxes. Homeowners can lose their homes for failure to pay water bills. With the current crisis in foreclosures in Detroit, MWRO, the Green Party and other community organizations are calling for a moratorium on foreclosures and utility shutoffs.

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