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Detroit activists vow to keep fighting "illegal and unconstitutional" bankruptcy plan

Nov 11, 2014

Detroit retiree William Davis vowed to appeal last week's ruling approving the city's bankruptcy exit plan.
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Having secured court approval for its bankruptcy restructuring last week, Detroit is now ready to emerge from bankruptcy.

But some Detroit residents and activists say that plan sacrificed both democracy and the public interest.

The group Detroiters Resisting Emergency Management says the bankruptcy process was about imposing financial solutions on social and political problems.

And they believe the newly-approved “plan of adjustment” won’t benefit the vast majority of Detroiters.

Reverend Bill Wiley-Kellerman of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church called Detroit a “testing ground” for “corporate urban fascism, and compared the city’s restructuring to the plight of debt-ridden developing countries forced to adopt austerity measures and other market-based reforms.

“If Detroit were a country in the global South under the debt burden of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, what’s happened in this bankruptcy would be called structural adjustment,” Wiley-Kellerman said.

A group of Detroit retirees also announced it will appeal last week’s ruling approving the plan of adjustment.

Retiree William Davis said that of the roughly $7 billion in debt Detroit shed in bankruptcy, a disproportionate amount--$4-5 billion—comes from pensions and other retiree benefits.

Davis said the retirees will pursue an appeal, whatever the cost. “I worked 34 years at the wastewater treatment plant, started out with a shovel, and I was shoveling something. And what I was shoveling smells better than this deal,” he said.