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Dispatch from Detroit

Elena Herrada  |  Issue: May | June 2020

DETROIT, MI – This morning’s news (3/27/20) showed us that the pedestrian bridge at I-94 and Gratiot has collapsed.

Detroit is a metaphor. While billionaires get tax abatements, the infrastructure literally crumbles to the ground. We are very lucky that we are under quarantine right now because this collapse would have killed people during rush hour.

In the last 20 years, Detroit has built three casinos and three stadiums. The stadiums were built with our tax money for the billionaires. Detroiters have not gotten one cent of revenue from Little Caesars Arena.


collapsed bridge in Detroit

Collapsed bridge in Detroit.


We recently learned that the money for our schools was given to now-deceased billionaire Mike Ilitch during Emergency Management. Dan Gilbert, of Quicken Loans fame received a favor from Trump after Gilbert contributed $750,000 to Trump’s campaign. In return, Gilbert was to receive an opportunity zone designation to improve development in low-income areas. Instead, it went to the entirely white high-income area where Gilbert can offer free internet to his tenants.

The narrative of Detroit’s comeback is actually a story of non-consensual rape of Detroit residents by billionaires.

The coronavirus quarantine lays this bare.

I live in the oldest neighborhood in Detroit, which is also the city’s most gentrified. All of the new business here is restaurants and bars. All of them are closed. We see what a house of cards this economy is built on.

Now that we see Trump breaking an agreement with the big three automakers to create more ventilators, we can only hope that Ford will do the right thing. Having recently purchased the train station and having received millions and tax abatements, we rely on Ford’s goodwill to build them.

What does Detroit actually need? We don’t need cars right now. We need ventilators.

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