Civil rights groups are asking to meet with Detroit officials about a controversial water shut-off campaign.
The ACLU and the NAACP want to meet with Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr to find a “fair, humane, and meaningful review process,” which would include adequate notice and a hearing to determine whether individual water customers can’t or won’t pay their bills.
U.S. Rep. John Conyers, Jr., D-Detroit, is also criticizing the way the water department has handled the situation. He wants the city to stop turning off water to residents. “That doesn’t mean that they get it free," Conyers said. "It means that they would be indebted for whatever amount they used, but we’d have a simple repayment plan for them to make amends.”
Conyers acknowledges the mayor and the city council don’t have the authority to do much about the water crisis, but says Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr should.
“Even Mr. Orr cannot deny that water is a human right. And if you start from there then the question is: how do you go about effecting a human right when the children or seniors or people in emergencies need it?” Conyers said.
Hundreds of homes and businesses behind by 60 days and owing $150 or more have had their water shut off. Support for the Detroit Journalism Cooperative on Michigan Radio comes from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Renaissance Journalism's Michigan Reporting Initiative, and the Ford Foundation.