Water Shut-Offs Are Hate Crimes

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
July 18 2014 3:56 PM

Water Shut-Offs Are Hate Crimes

452348744-congressman-john-conyers-jr-clinches-his-fist-as-he_1
In no mood for a draught

Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images

DETROIT—One of the truly great things about Netroots Nation is the annual move to a brand-new city. Only Las Vegas has hosted two of these conventions. Every other year, the circus tents have plunked into a union-friendly state (Michigan was until fairly recently) and been flavored by the local progressive movement. Last year Northern California, this year Michigan.

I think that adds to the thick aura of populism. After listening to Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Rep. Gary Peters, and Mark Ruffalo (an anti-fracking campaigner, if you didn't know), anyone who was so moved could join the National Nurses United in a protest of the city shutting off water for people who hadn't paid their water bills.* 

Advertisement

That's a picture of a man perfecting a puppet head of Gov. Rick Snyder. (He's putting a bike helmet inside, for comfort.) The downtown protest was one of two today, and outside the Cobo Center, union organizers were joined by the Raging Grannies and all manner of young progressives, for a cause that might have been obscure outside this city, currently run by a state-appointed emergency manager. Those without signs were handed fresh ones, from MORATIUM-MI, with the slogan

STOP THE SHUTOFFS! Turn it on!
WATER is a HUMAN RIGHT

Being unable to cover the protest, this quote from UAW President Dennis Williams will have to do as a descriptor.

Government didn't give us water. It is a natural resource. It is not owned by corporation (or) by City Hall. It is owned by the people of this land.

Most of it happened when I was covering Peters' "grassroots fundraiser" with Warren. The water issue was not mentioned. When I got back, a female protester, her shirt adorned with cause buttons and her arms carrying one of the signs, filled me in on how the protest route included a stop at "Jamie Dimon's office," aka the Chase Bank building.

"We didn't do anything," she said, "but we made some noise."

*Correction, July 20, 2014: This post originally misstated that Elizabeth Warren is a representative. She is a senator.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore, and Schools Are Getting Worried

The Good Wife Is Cynical, Thrilling, and Grown-Up. It’s Also TV’s Best Drama.

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 19 2014 9:15 PM Chris Christie, Better Than Ever
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:48 PM You Should Be Listening to Sbtrkt
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.