Detroit By Detroiters
In this Issue:
The Responsible Banking Ordinance Tar Sands Update The RAIZ UP Critical Moment: Looking Back on a Decade An interview with Jay Thomas The Struggle to Keep Oakman School Open
The Critical Moment Collective dedicates this issue to: Trayvon Martin and Edward Snowden, two young people from the U.S., one shot dead by a racist, the other being pursued and threatened by the U.S. government.
From the Collective The threat of municipal bankruptcy has been looming over Detroit for months. Now October 23rd is set as the court date to decide if Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr has the legal authority to bankrupt us. The question is historic: Have economic interests in the U.S. finally become so powerful that the constitution no longer applies to Michigan citizens? Mr. Orr made the bankruptcy filing back in July even though his authority as supreme commander of Detroit had already been constitutionally challenged in Federal court by both AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) & the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). Orr is cleverly dodging the issue of whether his power is legitimate because when he filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy, federal bankruptcy Judge Rhodes stayed (paused) all the constitutional challenges. In Frank Joyce’s piece on page four, he examines the economic and social roots of Detroit’s current crisis. Our problems are bigger than the city and so the solutions will have to be too. Detroit is going bankrupt and Orr is brokering a sweetheart deal of $450 Million in tax money (that would have gone to the schools) to build a hockey stadium for sports mogul Mike Ilitch. You can’t make this shit up. Emergency management isn’t a new way forward, it’s the same old messed up thing only worse because we can’t vote the bastard out. By building authentic community leadership with a radical analysis of power and connecting to national and international communities in our same boat, we can shift the balance of power toward real positive alternatives. Where are we now? November 2013 will bring a mayoral election and it’s been a pretty rough going so far. Corporate media had no interest in giving coverage to any candidate besides Mike Duggan or Benny Napoleon during the primary so it’s just them on upcoming ballot. City lawyer and progressive favorite Krystal Crittendon was tossed aside as a ‘long shot’ and Tom Barrow took up his usual post at the laughing stock. Barrow did manage to make news when he challenged Duggan’s presence on the primary ballot, in violation of city residency rules for potential mayors. But that proved too little against Duggan’s seemingly bottomless campaign coffers. When we consider the amount of money Duggan spent on his write-in campaign — billboards, radio ads, direct mailers and door-to-door canvassing — the Duggan team must have spent well into the millions just so people knew how to spell his last name correctly. That’s either the world’s most expensive spelling bee or the gestures of someone with very powerful and wealthy friends. Remember, this is the same person that helped transform the Detroit Medical Center into a for-profit corporation and mounted a full-court, union-busting blitz against the Michigan Nurses Association and DMC nurses when they tried to organize in 2007. Vanguard Health and many others stood to profit big-time money in those moves, and we’re certain those favors didn’t go unreturned. Then there’s Benny. A cop. Something has seriously gone haywire when a city with long history of police brutality is on the cusp of electing a cop to the top office. It’s not a coincidence that Napoleon was Detroit’s top cop from 1995 to 2001, or that the Department of Justice imposed a Federal Consent Agreement on the Detroit Police Department in 2003, based on a continual pattern of excessive force. Napoleon has proposed assigning one police officer per square mile of the city to organize block clubs and as he describes in his plan available online, ‘aggressively enforce’ city ordinances for things like noise, graffiti, loitering and dumping. We don’t dispute that there are real day-to-day problems facing city residents, but has anyone ever said that the police—in Detroit or otherwise—need to be more aggressive? Coupled with their unapologetic support for racist stop-and-frisk policies and the newly-formed local, state and federal policing initiative known as Detroit One, Detroit cops will be harassing young black boys like it’s their job. We are not a bankrupt city. Take a look around. We have something special going on here, thanks to hundreds of thousands people that choose to live here and our suburban friends that visit from time to time. Talk to your neighbors, join the weekly ‘slow-roll’ that’s taken the city by storm. Help promote counter-culture and stop in at one of the hundreds of galleries or music spaces that dot the city. Plug in with the coalition group Detroiters Resisting Emergency Management (http://d-rem.org) and help fight the economic war being waged against Detroit by the banks. November will be here before we know it and Detroiters will be forced to choose between two dead ends: authoritarian rule or a corporate lovefest. Oppose the Tale of Two Cities being developed for Detroit—of a tax-funded downtown development and ignored and neglected neighborhoods—by adopting and endorsing the People’s Platform (http:// www.unitingdetroiters.org). Hold officials (elected or otherwise) accountable to policies that promote liberty and justice for all. We here at Critical Moment don’t find that these mayoral candidates offer Detroiters real alternatives to the pro-Wall Street agenda that’s gotten us where we are today.
Meg Marotte - writer/editor/logistics Timothy Boscarino - editor Fred Vitale - writer/editor Sarah Coffey - writer/editor D. Sands - writer/editor Emily Canosa - logistics Michael Sabbagh - writer/editor/social media Curtis McGuire - writer/designer Mark Tucker - writer/editor
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Detroit’s Most Popular Villains
Gov. Rick Snider
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Mayor Dave Bing
New Metro Detroit Progressive Events Calendar Launched Life just got a little easier for folks who want to know what’s afoot in the progressive community of Metro Detroit and Southeast Michigan. Mark Dilley, a local labor organizer involved with the tech community, recently launched a new online solidarity calendar called “Activate! 313”. The website, which has been online about two month, is part of an Activate! hub that also features calendars for Portland and San Francisco. Dilley, the project’s Detroit curator, previously played a role in developing Calagator, Portland’s tech calendar, as well as one one linked to the Occupy movement. He hopes Activate! 313 will serve as a “one-stop shopping” site for local folks interested in labor rights and social justice. “Its intention is to pull together all the events on people’s fliers and emails to get a sense of what’s going on in the area in terms of progressive issues,” he told Critical Moment.
Letter of Support to Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands “Felons”
Although Dilley won’t be posting cultural events himself, he said others are welcome to do so. The site is open to everyone in the local progressive community. Like a wiki site, the calendar is designed to be easy to use to encourage users to contribute and collaborate. Adding an event doesn’t involve much more than clicking a button and filling out a form.
By: Tim DeChristopher
For years, some of us have been inviting the climate movement to be bolder and more courageous. This past summer, many grassroots activists answered the call like never before. We had the Fearless Summer, Summer Heat, Sovereign Summer and more. Among the many frontlines in this movement, activists in Michigan were fighting the unpermitted expansion of the Enbridge pipeline under the guise of rebuilding from their disastrous 2010 spill in the Kalamazoo River. On the first day of Fearless Summer, Chris Wahmhoff used a skateboard to wedge himself into the pipeline and shut it down for a day. A month later, his cohorts in the Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands (MI CATS) locked down to construction equipment to shut things down again.
Those who already have their own calendars in place can incorporate them into Activate! 313’s database with a little assistance from Dilley. By installing some simple code, users can also plug the calendar into their own sites with very little effort. To see the new calendar in action, visit activate313.org. Info at markwdilley@ gmail.com.
Now all of them have been charged with felonies for this nonviolent civil disobedience, and Chris along with Vicci Hamlin, Lisa Leggio and Barb Carter from the second action have all decided to take their cases to a jury trial. Civil disobedience has recently been embraced by the mainstream of the climate movement, but these brave four in Michigan remind us that civil disobedience is about more than a photo op. In addition to being a tactic for putting pressure on those in power, when it is carried through all the way civil disobedience is one our most powerful tools for education and movement building. These four are fully committed and willing to sacrifice, and they need our support now.
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Most importantly, this is an opportunity to define what kind of movement this will be. Those who will take the next bold actions that will continue to be necessary need to know that this movement doesn’t leave people behind. Let this be a movement that holds people. When people take risks and put themselves on the line, let this be a movement that holds them up to amplify their voices and holds them tight to support them through their trials.
I know from experience that a jury trial is a fantastic organizing opportunity, but it takes resources to be able to take advantage of that opportunity. Their next court date is September 18th, and there will be plenty more. This will be a long process, and we will have to have their backs the whole way. Their ability to mobilize support and present a strong legal defense will be crucial to the future of our movement. If we continue undermining the power structure that is wrecking the climate, we can expect more draconian responses like this one in the future. Now is the time to send a message that this is a big, interconnected movement that will not back down.
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$5 (at least) and pass this on to 5 people (at least) who care Please donate about a livable future. Spread the word. MI CATS is not a deep-pocketed group, which is why they are bold enough to push the boundaries and lead the way for our movement. I think they will need to raise at least $100,000 to make the most of this opportunity. They’re not sure that’s possible because they haven’t experienced how big, interconnected and loving this movement can be. I think that’s exactly the kind of movement that we are, and the kind of movement we need to keep being in the future. One of the reasons I want to see them raise this money from thousands of regular people is because Enbridge can’t. Enbridge couldn’t find many people willing to give a dime to support their vision of corporate exploitation, but I think there are millions who share a vision of a healthy and just world and will support those who take a stand to make it happen. Please join me in supporting these activists today and throughout their whole process.
For more information, please visit www.michigancats.org/ or contact them at email@example.com.
www.detroitgreens.org FALL 2013 - CRITICAL MOMENT - 3
The Real Story Behind the Decline of Detroit. And Yes, Great Things Are Happening There Too Below are excerpts from “The Real Story Behind the Decline of Detroit … And Yes, Great Things Are Happening There Too” by Frank Joyce The role of white racism, both in it’s individual and institutionalized forms, are not acknowledged in the mainstream story of Detroit. Frank Joyce begins to explore this key issue, so necessary to overcome if we are to successfully end Emergency Management and Right-toWork laws and move on the offensive to secure good-paying jobs, healthcare and homes for ourselves. Introduction by Fred Vitale For most residents, life is difficult at best. Exhibit A would be the impact of fourteen years of control of Detroit Public Schools by the state government in Lansing. The results have been disastrous, despite the best efforts of Detroit’s teachers who give new meaning to the term public servants.
or “the racial divide.” Nonsense. What it was and what it remains is white racism pure and simple. Bloviators love to talk about the “unsustainable legacy” costs of pensions for city workers. They never talk about the “legacy” costs of racism. By 1980, African Americans outnumbered whites within the city limits of Detroit. Yes, capital started leaving Detroit in the 1940’s. But the population disinvestment is just as important. Make no mistake about it. The extreme segregation that has long characterized Southeast Michigan was anything but accidental.
To be sure, corruption and incompetence from elected officials has played a role. It has made already bad situations even worse than they needed to be. It has diverted needed resources to addressing the corruption instead of dealing with other problems. And it has been like catnip to whites who like to argue that it proves Detroit can’t govern itself.
For decades, it was the policy of the Federal Housing Administration to deny loans to African Americans trying to buy houses in the suburbs. To this day, if you buy a suburban house that hasn’t changed hands in a long time, the deed may well contain a “restrictive covenant” that explicitly prohibits the sale of the house to Negroes.
Imprisoned former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick provides the best and most well-known target of all. But what most whites don’t know or won’t admit is that he was well on his way to being defeated for reelection until a cadre of white businessmen with major interests in the city came up with hundreds of thousands of dollars in 11th hour campaign funds.
That’s not all. Twenty-three out of twentythree attempts to create a tri-county transportation authority to improve region-wide public transit went down to defeat in the white controlled state legislature. So, not only was it impossible for African Americans to buy homes near where the jobs were moving, it was difficult to get to suburban jobs that came along with suburban growth.
And yes, race does have everything to do with it. There are three counties that make up the political economy of Southeast Michigan. Wayne County encompasses Detroit but also includes large suburbs such as Dearborn, Livonia (the most segregated city of more than 200,000 residents in the entire country) and most of the affluent Grosse Pointes. Oakland County immediately north of Detroit is the 4th most affluent county of its size in the United States. Nearby Macomb County is predominately working class and the “birthplace” of “Reagan Democrats”. Much of the Detroit punditry one reads or hears conveniently ignores race altogether, concentrating instead on the decline of the domestic auto industry or macro-economic trends. Usually, when race is included on a list of “causes for Detroit’s decline,” it is described with weasel words such as “racial tensions”
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Zooming out our historical lens even further, we see the unbroken pattern of white supremacy even more clearly. The counterrevolution to the civil war was the Jim Crow system. The counterrevolution to the end of Jim Crow is mass incarceration and other components of the institutionalized racism that perpetuate and in some ways intensify white privilege today. Detroit’s history as the national leader in residential segregation and all that flows from it definitely underpins today’s Detroit crisis and that of Flint, Pontiac, Benton Harbor and Muskegon as well. While observers sometimes notice that a majority of predominately African American cities in Michigan are under some form of emergency management. The question they don’t ask is why are there predominately African American cities in the first place?
The physical devastation of the city is breathtaking. Much of what you have read from self-proclaimed Detroit haters and defenders is accurate. The debt accumulated with the aggressive help of Wall Street over the decades is staggering. Repeated lay-offs of city workers have severely curtailed even basic services.
None of Detroit’s problems showed up suddenly. Seen from a long term perspective, the bankruptcy filing comes into clearer focus. As with Ronald Reagan’s firing of unionized air traffic controllers (PATCO) or the Supreme Court’s validation of big money control of politics in Citizen’s United, Detroit’s bankruptcy is the effect of democracy’s power already lost—not the cause of it. It is but one more small step in a decadeslong process.
to Detroit per year is estimated to be as much as $142 million.
And just to add insult to injury, the financial institutions that wouldn’t lend money to African Americans to move out of the city wouldn’t lend it for home improvement in the city either. But they would charge more, far more, for home and car insurance. For those too young to remember, that practice was called redlining. It’s still prevalent today.
One dramatic example of the cost of racism born by Detroit is this: Detroit has an income tax on those who work within the city limits. The two-tier tax is lower for those who work in the city but live in the suburbs. In enacting the tax, the state legislature required employers based in the city to collect the tax via payroll deduction as they do with federal and other taxes. Suburban based employers are not required by the law to collect the tax. Most of them don’t. The revenue lost
Katrina or Canary? Detroit & the US of A
So, which is it? Is Detroit just a perfect storm of forces that hit a particular place in a particular way such as New Orleans, albeit over a longer time frame? Or is Detroit the canary in the coal mine that is previewing where the whole country and in some ways the whole world is headed? I have spent a lot of time over the years thinking about that question. Every time I wind up with the same conclusion. Sooner or later, this movie will come to a theatre near you. Either that, or it will open nationwide, that is for the whole country. Dependence on debt, political paralysis that prevents anything being done while the system and its component parts flounder and decay, an obsolete system of organizing work—isn’t that exactly what Detroit has been through over the last 40? Add in accelerating ecological catastrophe and you can see that one day we will all be able to say Ich bein ein Detroiter.
The beauty of this “willful ignorance” for many whites is that as the quality of life declined in Detroit, the decline itself became the moral justification for whites for the inequality itself. It’s an old story. Slave society did the very same thing. Slaves were routinely portrayed as lazy and shiftless. To put the meme in contemporary terms, the slaves were demonized as the takers and the slave owners were the makers. If you want to see how this dynamic plays out today, just read the abusive and sickening comments following any news story local, or national, about Detroit’s troubles. For that matter just read the Detroit News— the “official” newspaper of white flight. Back in the day it was editorial policy of the News to publish a front page story every day about a crime committed by an African-American. Recently Detroit News Editor Nolan Finley, who has built his career on being the most steadfast and flamboyant carrier of the “white man’s burden,” published a much hyped editorial titled “Can Detroit Govern itself?” You can guess how he answered his own question. And his coded speech is unmistakable. Everyone knows that what Finley really means is can African Americans govern themselves? To which my answer is absolutely, if you and your one-percent pals were capable of allowing such a thing. A step in the right direction would be for the News to publish a reflective piece on how its coverage of the city and its hate filled comments section helps perpetuate racism and segregation. The thing about residential segregation is that it changes not just economics, but politics as well. As Detroit became more predominantly African-American, its influence, especially in state government declined. Among other things, that made gerrymandering easier, contributing to the control of all three branches of government by right-wing Republicans.
Lest I be mistaken for a deficit hawk, I don’t care if even a right winger says it our dependence on debt is unsustainable. As individuals, students especially, as governments and as an economy—we are truly living on borrowed money and borrowed time. Just speaking of governments, if the standards invented for emergency managers to take over Detroit or Flint were objectively applied nationwide—thousands of cities, counties and states would qualify. And guess what, so would the United States itself. Who knows, perhaps one day the UN or China will take over the powers of Congress and the President and replace them with an Emergency Manager. Whatever the ultimate outcome of Detroit’s municipal bankruptcy drama, we can be certain of one thing. It won’t fix any of the underlying problems of systemic racial, political and economic dysfunction. For that, we will have to rely on ourselves. And more and more, we are doing just that. For those of us who believe the current dominant order is not only not working, but a menace to life on earth, Detroit is exactly where we want to be. We are proud and grateful to be in the place and the time where we get to have a part in making another world happen. Frank Joyce is an activist and author. He can be heard on Dave Marsh’s radio program, “Live from the Land of Hopes and Dreams,” SiriusXM 127, 1-4pm EST.
One Woman’s Struggle to Keep Oakman School Open
Emergency Manager is Arrogant, Dishonest, Uncaring, Parents Say By Marianne Yared McGuire
On April 9, 2013, Aliya Moore began her typical day by rising early and getting her daughter Chrishawna, 11, off to her classes at Oakman Orthopedic, a Detroit Public School on the far west side. Her other daughter Tyliya, 3 would accompany her during the day as she carried out her duties and projects as President of the Local School Community Organization (LSCO). Oakman was established as a state-of-the-art orthopedic or Special Education school in 1929. It is considered by many to be state today. By day’s end Aliya’s world would change dramatically.
It was later that evening after helping Chrishawna with her homework and getting both children to bed that she listened to the robocall from the school’s principal. It announced an important meeting, to be held the next afternoon. There was no other information. For many parents, a call like this provided little, if any, time to make arrangements to attend the meeting. “I guess they figured most us didn’t work and so it would be no trouble to go over to the school. That was the first insult right there,” Moore says now. “Many parents couldn’t take time off from work or get babysitters,” she adds. “At the meeting, [state-appointed emergency manager] Roy Roberts announced Oakman would be closing permanently in June. We had a lot of questions but he refused to answer any of them. He said he didn’t have time. He made a PowerPoint presentation and then told us he had been on welfare. Did he think we were all on welfare and that was supposed to make us feel better? He totally disrespected us,” she says. “There were only about 20 parents who were able to make the meeting on April 10,” she said. “Roberts must have thought nobody cared but that was far
from what was going on. Parents just couldn’t get away for one reason or another. We never received any written notification of the closing.” “We immediately printed up fliers so we could notify the parents who couldn’t make the Roberts meeting,” she says. The next night, the Detroit Board of Education (though stripped of much of its power by the emergency manager) held a public meeting at the nearby Gompers School. Thirty parents and their children attended—some using wheelchairs or crutches—and told their stories of why they did not want Oakman School to close. It was at that meeting that Aliya and the others met Helen Moore, attorney and longtime education activist. “She made a lot of suggestions . . . and gave us a lot of encouragement to take on the adminstration,” says Aliya. “Mrs. Moore was wonderful.” “We started by organizing ourselves and we did that by meeting parents when they came to pick up or drop off their children,” according to Aliya. “We had a big sign on the doors leading into the school saying we were closing and [asking parents] to join the coalition to fight it. The sign was up for a couple of weeks before Karen Ridgeway, DPS deputy in charge of curriculum, came to visit Oakman and saw it. Well, she demanded that it be taken down because it was on DPS property. So we put up signs across the street from the school
“At this point, I not only want Oakman to reopen, but I want the truth to be exposed. I want the EMs to be held accountable for what they’ve done and the lies they’ve told. Everyone, from the Governor, to the state superintendent and his subordinates, to Keith Johnson [head of the Detroit Federation of Teachers]; they’ve all thrown integrity out the door.” and got even more parents to join us because of it.” Roberts’ plan would reassign the students to nearby Henderson and Noble schools, which would require students to cross Grand River, Meyers, or Wyoming Avenues—an unacceptable situation according to Oakman parents. Their first major demonstration was a march from Oakman to Noble School. “We had about 200 people at that march,” says Aliya. Surprisingly, we got a call from [the emergency manager’s office] after the march to say they would furnish transportation. Although it wasn’t the victory we were looking for, it was still good news,” she says. Other concerns soon arose, however. Maintenance and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance at the receiving schools soon became urgent issues. Visits by parents to Henderson and Noble schools discovered troubling conditions: loose asbestos hanging from ceilings and walls, bathrooms with no doors on the stalls and classroom doors too narrow for wheelchairs. There are no changing rooms (some students at Oakman use catheters or have other privacy requirements), which many students need. State education officials claimed in August, without seeing either of the receiving schools, that everything would be completed and ADA compliant by the first day of school. The school year started at the beginning of September and repairs have yet to be made. “We don’t think they’ll ever really make the changes,” she says. Roberts became known for his displays of
arrogance to parents and anyone else who dared to ask questions he found touchy or difficult to answer. He established a reputation telling parents of special education students to ‘get in line’ when they questioned treatment of their children. Oakman parents found themselves rebuffed when they requested appointments or updates on Oakman’s repair requirements. Even after parents provided independent estimates of costs from a school engineer and building contractor which was $700,000 less than Roberts’ original claim of $900,000 in needed repairs, he still refused to meet with the parents. Because of the absolute power an emergency manager has, they apparently feel neither a desire to discuss anything with the
community nor a need to revise a decision based on new evidence. In August, 75 Oakman parents, students and supporters chartered a bus (the expense donated by an Oakman alumnus) to travel to Lansing to lobby their case with the State Board of Education and Governor Rick Snyder. When they talked with the governor’s staff, one of his aides said, “Why are you coming to us? The reason we appointed an emergency manager was so you could take your problems directly to him.” Stunned to think that anyone actually believed it was possible to make an appointment with the emergency manager, the parents quickly and angrily refuted the claim. Still, there has never been a response of any kind from either Snyder or Roberts. For Aliya, there is an immense amount of hurt. “They’ve disrespected us right along,” she says. “At this point, I not only want Oakman to reopen, but I want the truth to be exposed. I want the EMs to be held accountable for what they’ve done and the lies they’ve told. Everyone, from the Governor, to the state superintendent and his subordinates, to Keith Johnson [head of the Detroit Federation of Teachers]; they’ve all thrown integrity out the door. They’re killing all that potential that’s in those children and they don’t care or they’re too afraid to speak out.” Aliya continues, “I would also say to parents and community people: do the proper research on your own. You don’t have to trust TV channels 2, 4, or 7 or the main newspapers. Be informed by getting outside your comfort zone. Parents should be more upset that these EMs are stealing from us.” Still, while Aliya might feel saddened by the outcome, the organization she started, the marches, demonstrations, trips to Lansing, phone calls, and letters are more than parents in any of the 50 Detroit schools that have closed under the autonomous reign of emergency managers ever dared to do. She forged ahead while others stayed in their comfort zone. Marianne Yared McGuire lives in Detroit. She is a former teacher and parent of children who graduated from Detroit schools. She did not seek reelection to the State Board of Education
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It starts with a beat from a boombox set on a brightly tiled stage at Clark Park in Southwest Detroit. The slow persistent rhythm serves as a signal that something is about to happen. A crowd begins to gather on a grassy hill around the community stage. Some come to throw down rhymes, others just to witness and share the vibes. The event is organized by a local hip-hop and arts collective called The RAIZ UP. They’ve been holding Sunday gatherings at Clark Park for most of the summer to celebrate local talent and encourage social awareness and action on issues facing the community. A few weeks earlier, their gathering also included a discussion about how the stateimposed emergency manager would impact Detroiters. This particular Sunday, Sept. 8, two members of the Arizona-based hip-hop group Shining Soul -- who connected with The RAIZ UP through the rapper Invincible -- have stopped by to share the stage and to hold a beat-making workshop for members of the community. The afternoon lineup is incredibly varied, featuring words from MoMo the poet, lyrics from MCs like Perfect Eclipse and Row, songs from Sandy Love and Xiomara Torres, and a traditional drum performance by Christy Bieber and Michelle Saboo of the Ann Arbor Swamp Singers, who also sang in the Ojibwe language. Afterwards, the MCs participate in a cypher, freestyling to some impromptu beats created with some Maschine and Roland SP-606 music sequencers. “We got all kinds of talent,” RAIZ UP member Sacramento Knoxx told Critical Moment. “I really think it all bounces off each other. As far as music goes, it’s just beautiful. You got the drum. I work on beats. MCs. We got poets, beatmakers. We got a guitarist. It’s all kinds of freshness.” The RAIZ UP gatherings have been happening for about a year now. In that time, the collective has grown to about twenty people -- most of them based in Southwest Detroit -- with a core group of about six or seven making sure things run smoothly.
The collective -- whose name comes from a Spanish word meaning roots -- had its origins in a dream Knoxx had. “We realized we had a good opportunity to connect people’s minds on different issues that were going on in the community and then from there we really started supporting as many different community organizations as we possibly could.” “It was literally a dream. I kind of had a dream to come to this stage,” he said. “So I was like, alright, I’ll call up the homies around here. That’s when I ran into Antonio from the Allied Media Conference. I was hitting him up about ideas about coming out to the park.” Antonio Cosme, a visual artist with the collective, said they started out with with public performances and skillshares, but later became involved with grassroots activism. This has included opposing emergency management, fighting pet coke piles on the Detroit River and pushing for the city’s Delray neighborhood to benefit from the construction of the proposed international bridge to Canada. “We realized we had a good opportunity to connect peoples minds on different issues that were going on in the community and then from there we really started supporting as many different community organizations as we possibly could,” he said, “as well as putting in different work with organizations to use hip-hop and arts to highlight the things that affecting our community.” The RAIZ UP have also done their best to be an intergenerational movement. Knoxx is an artist in residence at the Urban Arts Academy, a youth center at Trumbull and Abbott, and the group played a support role during the student walkouts at Western International High School last year. K’won Weaver, a young Detroiter involved with the group, said being a member has increased his confidence about rapping and opened his mind about issues affecting the city. “A year ago, when I started coming here, I
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just heard about it through Knoxx, and so I came to see what was up,” he said. “I think, what we’re doing here, that can help Detroit’s future, because youth can be inspired to do more and learn more about critical things about the politics and what’s going on in Detroit.” Native American activism holds a prominent place in the group’s work as well. Most RAIZ UP members identify with indigenous culture and the group actively promotes decolonization, the reclaiming of native language and culture. Members have dropped Native American banners from buildings, helped organize and document an Idle No More dance at Fairlane Mall, and put together an Ojibwe art installation to decolonize space at a traditional native site in Flint. They’re also interested in raising awareness about a Native American burial mound at Historic Fort Wayne in Southwest Detroit. Then, of course, there’s the music as well. Christy Bieber is a recent addition to The Raiz Up, who also performs with Ann Arbor’s Swamp Singers. She appreciates how the group mixes native and hip hop culture. “I’m honored and blessed by this collective. Just being with the people and incorporating hip hop with this indigenous music that I’m singing. It’s all healing and I think that’s the biggest thing.” Knoxx said his work with the collective has had a similar effect on him as well. “[I’m] living in balance and healthy now,” he said. “Because of systematic oppression and historical trauma, I personally had a lot of self -hatred going on with me. So I was finishing off the last of that. The RAIZ UP formed from that. It reaped creativity from that oppression.” The Raiz Up can be reached online at facebook. com/TheRaizUp or via email at theraizup@ gmail.com.
S t r e t c h i n g
B o u n d a r i e s
An Interview With Stretch Adams Stretch Adams is the sort of Detroit artist whose work usually escapes notice in the media. He’s not a European taking advantage of the city’s infamously cheap studio space or a polished professional with work blanketing the walls of some hip local gallery. Instead, he lives a bohemian life. He works in the restaurant industry, makes art and music in his free time and occasionally travels around the country in search of adventures. It’s an uninhibited lifestyle that’s clearly reflected in his artwork. In fact, the eccentric, gangly characters in his drawings seem as if they themselves have hitched a train from another dimension. Their exaggerated, perplexed expressions walk the dusty backroad between goofy and grotesque. Stretch’s wild works of imagination aren’t easy to find, but they occasionally make an appearance on local music posters, street stickers and on the walls of his home, a Detroit housing collective known as Crow Manor. Critical Moment caught up with the artist recently to learn more about his life and creations. Critical Moment: Tell us about your style. Stretch Adams: I started developing a style probably around about 18 or 19. I’ve always been drawing since I could hold a pencil. I started developing that style of really exaggerated, surreal, cartoonish stuff. The most important thing to me then was just keeping my pen on the paper and not really being concerned with the end result. Critical Moment: How would you describe your body of work? Stretch: Mostly everything is all pen and ink. They’re just slices of life. I usually try to convey a situation that a character would be in with the least amount of frames as possible. Critical Moment: Tell us about your playing cards. Stretch: That idea came about because I was travelling and selling art on the street. A lot of people liked the art, but they thought it was too weird. So I needed something to put my art on that goes beyond an alternative radical lifestyle. And cards just came about because my family has always had cards since I was a little kid. If you know how to play cards, you can make friends with anyone else who knows how to play cards. I came up with the idea in about 2006—finished all the drawings that year—and it pretty much took me about 3 years to save up the money to get them produced. So they didn’t even get produced until 2009. I just took them back on the road, sold them out of my suitcase. Critical Moment: Can you tell us the stories behind some of your drawings? Stretch: The Old Man—He obviously doesn’t appear as extreme as I portrayed him. He was an old fella. We were hanging out in Austin, Texas on the street, and he offered us five dollars to go to the grocery store and steal him a shopping cart so he could put his wife’s homemade tapestries in it. She was an old mestizo lady. She was very small. She was only about four-foot-one, and she had been deported two months beforehand. Two weeks before, the old man went to Mexico, got her, hiked back through the mountains and illegally hiked through the border to get to the
United States. She had bloody feet. Her feet were covered in blood. She had no shoes. The idea of him going to get this lady in Mexico and hiking back with her in the mountains, was just the ultimate love story. The Iguana—That is Vladimir. He was an iguana that we found at a truck stop, sitting on a brick wall in November. We grabbed the iguana off the truck stop wall and asked the clerk to make an announcement. She goes: “Attention Flying J customers. If any of y’all have lost an iguana, please come to the front desk.” We waited at the truck stop for about an hour and no one came to claim the iguana. The clerk just suggested we try and find a good home. So we just took it traveling with us. I kept him around the back of my neck to keep him warm, and we hung out with him about two, three weeks. Then we got into North Carolina and met some folks who were willing to take him in. Critical Moment: Tell us about your music. Stretch: During my travels in Colorado we picked up a hitchhiker who ended up becoming one of my best friends … he taught me how to play guitar. I really took to the simplicity of country music. It was a lot like punk rock to me—three chords. I’ve been writing songs for the past seven or eight years. I’ve got a recording out. It’s self titled, “Stretched Across the Tracks.” It’s on Bandcamp available for streaming and download. Critical Moment: Tell us about Crownival, the yearly summer music fest that takes place at your house. Stretch: The Crownival was inspired by two major life events. The first of which was the loss of a really good friend, Dave Kujawa. He was the guy who started our house. He built the collective and we lost him to mental illness. During that period, I was having a rough time in Michigan and Detroit. So I went to visit a friend of mine in New Orleans. After experiencing the carnival culture and the parades and their celebration of life and death, it just really resonated with me. I combined the idea of our house with the spirit of a great carnival. We were just trying to pull in all kinds of local Detroit artists and all the people I’ve met travelling across the country and have inspired and changed the way I do art. Critical Moment: How would you describe the arts community in Detroit? Stretch: The amazing thing about being a creative person in Detroit is people respond simply to the fact that you’re being creative. They don’t have to necessarily appreciate the specific idiosyncrasies of the art or whatever creative thing it is. It encourages you to delve more into your style and what you want to show people, instead of worrying about an audience and what they want to perceive.
Stretch Adams is a Detroit-based artist and musician. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. See more of his art at critical-moment.org.
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JAY THOMAS an interview by Curtis McGuire
Jay Thomas is a local businessman who owns Second Hand Car Wash, Sweet Tooth Grill & Ice Cream, and Baby Boy Auto Repair, all located on the corner of Clairmount and Second Ave. Every year, Jay organizes a local fireworks show and a back-to-school supplies event for the surrounding community. Critical Moment’s Curtis McGuire spoke with him recently about his involvement in the community and his views on Detroit. Critical Moment: Tell us about your businesses. Jay Thomas: My sister had a restaurant called The Next Level. It was across the street from Opus One. I catered Sweet Tooth out of the restaurant for anyone that wanted catering. The reputation of Sweet Tooth was so great, I was able to get this corner going and bring it up to the standards where it is now. Every year we did the Hoe Down, ... the Jazz festival, Arts Beats & Eats. We did different festivals like that and we just catered. So we just built up the name. Even right now, when you see the promotion for the Jazz Fest on [Channels] 2, 4 [and] 7, you’ll see me on the commercial with a hat on flipping a bunch of meat. I haven’t done the jazz festival in like three years, and they still have me on the commercial.
that it ever got shut down at 12:30. We always go 2-3 in the morning. You know what I mean? The whole neighborhood be out here. They love it. No problems. Everybody knows each other. Everybody grew up with each other. This is a great day. So the next year I’m just going to set this event up like it’s a major event, like some downtown, like they would do. I’m just going to organize it a little bit better. Have security out there and have
council. The people would ask them that was running the city. They just came to a point where they didn’t know what direction to go, what outlets to use, you know. They don’t utilize none of their major properties. ... But Detroit got many and plenty avenues or ways to draw money. You got so many things that you could do. But then if you really look around you
CM: Who did you vote for for mayor in the primary? JT: I voted for Benny Napolean and I’ll tell you why. And everybody think, “Well he remind me of Kwame.” “Look,” they say, “he going to be skimming.“ I say there is nothing to skim, number one. The city is broke. There’s nothing for him to skim.
the police or I’ll let them know what is going on CM: how do you feel about Detroit’s current economic situation with the bankruptcy?
CM: Tell us about your fireworks show, did they ticket you for that?
JT: I feel like it was all planned for [by] the governor. Something like: “When it hit this point here, that’s where we come in, we take over, and now we take something that we say is nothing and we make it something major.” But it was already major.
JT: This is my first year out of ten years
But the people was asking in the city
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I’m broke and the city is broke. We both broke. But now you’re going to take my property because you’re broke. You got Dan Gilbert. You got Illitch. You got all them guys. They billionaires, they own the whole downtown. A little guy like me, I cannot even lease a piece of the property downtown, you know what I mean? You gotta have that money. All of it is going to come back great. But at the same time, we’ve got to get the right mayor in office.
CM: Tell us about your back to school program? JT: It’s a great experience for the kids to be able to come out, get ready to go back to school with a fresh haircut [and] to get that list of school supplies that every child needs when they go to school. We have the fire truck … We have the police come over with the K-9 -- just to get the kids friendly with the police. Popcorn, juice, free hot dogs. It takes money and it takes donations. It takes people with their time, donating their time. Twentyfive volunteers here doing stuff like facepainting, showing kids they care. This year we are just trying to do the internet thing, the facebook, twitter, instagram. However we can advertise, that’s how we’ll do it.
taxes and everything sucks. You know I get nothing in service but you want me to pay all this.
say, Detroit is on the uprise. How can you possibly say they are broke? You go down and walk down the riverfront and they are spanning this thing all the way down to the Ambassador Bridge. If you ain’t got no money, how can you even do another block of the riverfront? Now all the properties is cheap as hell, but the taxes are high as hell. Police service stinks. Fire truck service stinks. Ambulance service stinks. Why the taxes so high? Now, okay, I’m behind in my taxes because my taxes so high. I’m behind three years, because I can hardly afford to pay $6,000 a year on property
The reason why I voted for him, because he used to be the Chief of the Police a long time ago … He know the streets. He know what it’s going to take to get these young guys off the streets from doing all this dumb stuff, unnecessarily wildly killing. Now Duggan on the other hand, he going to come in. He’ll probably financially orchestrate some things, ... but I’ll tell you right now, I’d rather have a city peaceful as hell, then to be sitting up there talking about getting the city back on track, but the killer rate doesn’t shoot up sky high even more.
Responsible Banking Ordinance Gains Momentum in Detroit By: Mark Tucker
A Responsible Banking Ordinance is being championed by Michigan United, a local progressive grassroots organization. Formerly the Alliance for Immigrant Rights and the Michigan Organizing Project, the newly consolidated Michigan United is a self described statewide coalition of faith, labor, civil rights, business and social service organizations working together for racial and economic justice through community organizing. Michigan United says they are committed to holding banks accountable and to stop unjust foreclosures. They hope to build awareness and support from the ground up for their proposed Responsible Banking Ordinance. The Responsible Banking Ordinance was borne out of strategy meetings with concerned citizens looking for ways to hold big banks accountable for their hand in destroying communities. Dr. Pitts, a Michigan United core team member explains, “The banks are not being held accountable for the foreclosure crisis. We think this is wrong. And it’s wrong that the same banks who issued predatory loans and targeted communities of color and crashed the economy got away scotfree. We propose a responsible banking ordinance. Let them pay for their destruction.” On Detroit’s west side, Michigan United members descended to clean up blight around an abandoned home on a recent Saturday morning. Neighbors who had given up maintaining the corner lot also joined in. Some neighbors, approving of the work Michigan United did that morning on the corner home asked if the newcomers would return to clean up the abandoned house across the street. Bartosz Kumor, a Michigan United core team member and lead organizer of the Responsible Banking Ordinance campaign, made a friendly deal, saying “If you can organize ten of your neighbors to help, we’ll come back to help.” The team at Michigan United knows Saturday’s work was a drop in the blight bucket, but it’s a tactic in a larger strategy to wrestle power from unscrupulous banks—the same banks that helped crash the American economy, instigating the 2008 recession—and put that power back into the hands of the people. Their hope is to work within the local community and city and state government to build support for the Responsible Banking Ordinance proposal, designed as a
policy initiative to hold banks accountable and reduce blight in Detroit caused by irresponsible banks abandoning their properties. In his July 18, 2013 letter to Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, Governor Richard Snyder listed many reasons for authorizing bankruptcy proceedings. “Having large swaths of largely abandoned structures approximately 78,000” was one reason of many cited, for it “creates additional public safety concerns and reduces the quality of life in the City.” In other words, approximately one-fifth of Detroit’s housing stock is abandoned. Many of these were a direct result of predatory lending practices, robo signing, and other unethical and or blatantly illegal business-as-usual bank practices condoned by upper management leading up to and in some cases continuing into the recession. “The problem is Detroit has no standards for how banks do business with the city” says Michigan United core team member Debbie Adams. “As such, the city fails to use its money as leverage to ensure that banks behave well. As a result, banks have little incentive to act in ways that benefit the community” adds Adams. Michigan United policy advisors say banks don’t currently see any financial disincentive to foreclosing on homeowners. As a result of the foreclosure crisis and subsequent fallout, Detroit lost $1.3 billion dollars in wealth in 2012 alone. They also point to existing precedents in Youngstown, OH and Springfield, MA where foreclosure bonds have been successfully implemented.
THE RESPONSIBLE BANKING ORDINANCE PROPOSES TO: Create standards for banks with which the city does business and also create a committee of community members, the Community Reinvestment Committee (CRC), who will 1) audit the activities of all banks who do business in the city 2) decide which banks the city should do business with and 3) have a poor record of investment in the city, will not receive investment or business from Detroit. Create a registry of foreclosed properties and impose daily fines for blighted bank-owned property. Require banks to post a $10,000 bond for each new foreclosure. The bond money applied toward the maintenance of foreclosed properties.
ANTICIPATED EFFECTS: Deter banks from engaging in discriminatory or predatory lending. Greatly discourage future foreclosures. Fund restoration of blighted homes. Set up a system of checks and balances for the allocation of collected fees giving power to the voice of the community. Increase the wealth and safety of Detroit’s communities. Shift power and oversight to the community. Greatly diminish the number of vacant, blighted properties in Detroit.
These successes have been highlighted by Michigan United when approaching the Mike Duggan and Benny Napoleon camps for endorsement of the Responsible Banking Ordinance. Neither is championing the initiative yet, but Michigan United organizers are optimistic the RBO’s launch in early October before the mayoral election is decided will put pressure on both mayoral candidates to take an official position.
Ordinance campaign launch is scheduled for October 10, 2013. In addition to removing blight from abandoned homes, Michigan United has gone to the airwaves to build public awareness. Invited onto the Tony Trupiano ‘Nightshift’ radio show (WDFN 1130 AM), Adams was heard this summer discussing the proposed ordinance with listeners, closing with the question “do you support the RBO?”
For more information on Michigan
get involved, contact them at www. miunited.org or visit their Facebook at www.facebook.com/MichiganUnited. Have a story to share? Critical Moment is looking for Detroit residents who have been wrongly evicted by the big banks for an upcoming feature. Send letters to
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Madness Crossword theMayoral Detroit Mayoral Primary Soap Opera, Names from the Detroit Mayoral Primary
Critical Moment: A Look Back
Soap Opera, 2013
By Mike Medow
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Editor’s Note: What follows is a loose recounting of Critical Moment’s history by an original collective member, his personal experience working on the paper and the issues they focused on. Much has changed since our humble beginnings in 2003, but the ideological agenda remains the same: “for social justice, diversity, and humanity; against oppression, exploitation, and exclusion.” A special tenth-anniversary release party will be taking place Thursday October 3rd at 1515 Broadway Cafe in Downtown Detroit at 7pm. We invite all readers, supporters and not-sosupporters of Critical Moment to join us in our celebration.
Critical Moment was started in 2003 in Ann Arbor by University of Michigan graduate 11 students who were connected through their involvement in campus organizing efforts including opposition to the U.S. war on Iraq, Palestine solidarity, economic justice, LGBT activism, and the Graduate Employees Organization. While it was started by grad students, the founding group made an immediate effort to outreach to undergrads and Ann Arbor community Down members. OLD MEN Know 11] Former Former reality TV star and legal This outreach was reality TV star and legal 3] Author of What OLD MEN successful and we ended up with merous progressive defender of Dr. Kevorkian. defender of Dr. Kevorkian. Said— was an editorial collective that threatened?—he’ d run in 2013, Know and host of numerous o, same name as Said—threatened?—he’dwas run in a refreshing mix of campus never materialized. progressive smash TV hitradio shows. Also, which 2013, which never materialized. and community, graduate and se. same name as a Colonel in the 22] Progressive Progressive candidate lawyer undergraduate. candidate and and lawyer that didn’t stand a chance. presentative that didn’t stand a chance. Mounted smash TV hitthat Stargate Universe. Mounted onemany of many Critical Moment port for Mike one of legallegal challenges to the was founded as challenges to the bankruptcy filing. “Moment Magazine.” The name ming fourthstate in representative bankruptcy filing. 5] inFormer was changed by issue 6 as we had time time runningrunning for mayor,for mayor, Fourth that announced support for Mike 44] Fourth realized that that was the name can’t this guy get a hint? At leastahehint? top Duggan cop and can’t this guy get he of At a least Jewish-American culture after coming in fourth in was a pain in Duggan’s side. magazine. I was a member of the heriff who wants was a pain in Duggan’s side. the primary. editorial collective from issue 4 on on behalf of the of Socialist e’ enforcement of 66] Ran Ran behalf the Socialist through issue 20-something. Equality Party, a Party, Trotskyist camp hat could possibly Equality a Trotskyist camp 7] Detroit’s former top cop and that runs World Socialist Website that runs World SocialistI got Website involved after Max Sussman Wayne county sheriff who wants (http://wsws.org). d to challenge a (http://wsws.org). joined the collective. Max ‘more aggressive’ Ex-city council andidate with a enforcement of 88] Ex-city councilpresident presidentand rumored to working on I were both tothe eye the city’s top office. petty crimes. What could possibly rumored Michigan Indymedia, which arjacked just days eye city’s top office. Kevyn Orr Kevyn Orr may have stripped his was an open ary. go wrong? stripped his pay, but hepublishing activist pay, may but he have can never take those news website, connected to the sexy can abs. never take those sexy abs. hat will not run global Indymedia network. Jenny 9] Barber that tried to challenge 9 odness. Also, Write-in candidate that spent Lee (currently at Allied Media 9] Write-in candidate that spent fellow write-in candidate with a millions glingasearch millions ofmaking dollars sure was wealso involved with Projects) of dollars suremaking we Indymedia. tolast spell name.We were all trying to how to how spell his name.his last similar name. Carjacked just days knewknew do as much radical independent 10 Independent state representative before the primary. 10] Independent state media work as possible, including that issued ‘Doctrine of Tri-lateral representative that a issued a radio (Black Box Radio), event War’ofon corruption, and (the Rad Art Collective), the Tri-lateral War’ onpoverty 11] Current Mayor that will not ‘Doctrine production corruption, poverty and have crime. been crime. May not the best Indymedia website, and traveling to anti-war run again, thank goodness. Also, May not have been the best choice choice of words. and anti-corporate globalization protests Microsoft’s fledgling search engine. of words. around the country to do on-the-ground coverage. Getting involved with the Critical Moment newspaper was part of the whole experience. There were many people involved in Critical Moment over the years, and if you go through back issues the editorial collective members are listed in each issue.
Bankruptcy On September 18, 2013 the Eastern District Bankruptcy Court allowed the 110 Detroiters who’d been swift enough to file objections to state their challenges to Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s eligibility to file Chapter 9 Bankruptcy for the city. AFSCME and the NAACP also have legal challenges to the EM. Below are excerpts, you can listen to the entire proceeding on the court’s website http://www.mieb.uscourts.gov/ sites/default/files/detroit/docket964.pdf “I seek to block any efforts by local or state officials to use the bankruptcy proceedings or piecemeal dismantlement to bypass state law and the constitution that they are sworn to uphold.” -- Russ Bellant, President of the Library Commission “I believe there is a threshold issue that a Federal Court must address before this bankruptcy may go forward, rooted in the founding of this nation. Do dollars trump democracy? ...Detroit debt is being used to justify the largest institutionalized and most racist pole tax in American history because more black Americans in America’s blackest city have seen their votes rendered meaningless than all the Night Riders of the Klu Klux Klan did in the Deep South with their lynchings, cross burnings and terror to stop us from voting and enjoying full liberties as American citizens.”
-- Sam Riddle, Attorney and Detroit resident
Critical Moment was started with an unapologetic radical politics, and it was nonsectarian, organized initially under the big wordy ideological umbrella of “for social justice, diversity, and humanity; against oppression, exploitation, and exclusion.” The editorial collective would meet at various cafes and offices. We made a point of not meeting on U-M campus buildings so as to try to be more inclusive of people not affiliated with the university. I think that at some point we registered as a student group and got some money that way, but we also funded the paper through selling advertisements and taking donations. Eric Lormand, after he ceased publishing the Agenda alternatively monthly in Ann Arbor, for several issues made a generous donation to Critical Moment to offset printing costs. As a participant in the collective, I developed my thinking through the political conversation and debate around the content of each issue. I also learned to be a better writer and editor of others’ work which is a skill that has carried forward in everything I’ve done since CM, especially in my current role running communications for Allied Media Projects. It was also a great experience working on a project that required a production schedule, making a budget and raising funds for operational expenses, and creating content guidelines. We never used outside designers, so members of the collective had to learn how to use Adobe CS1, which was released the same year Critical Moment was founded.
Members of the editorial collective contributed content but we also received a good number of submissions from outside. We would put up flyers and circulate emails with the call for submissions. We would compile all submissions into a single compilation document prior to review meetings. We also would republish articles from other publications (this was generally with permission). Today, that seems like a waste of paper, but ten years ago republishing made some amount of sense as social media had not yet made link sharing so easy. When Critical Moment was founded there was no Facebook, no Twitter, and Wordpress was just getting started. We went through a phase of doing theme issues, but eventually the work of coming up with a theme and appropriate content became tiresome. Environmental justice, Palestine, education, sex (yes, that happened), and the 2004 presidential elections were some of the issue themes. In general the content spanned the whole gamut from anti-war, to global
economics, prisons, civil liberties, racial and gender justice, labor, the crisis of anti-trans violence, and we also published poetry and short stories. This was all during the Bush presidency, and politically everything felt absolutely terrible all the time and Critical Moment was an outlet for expressing opposition. We did an “Activist Calendar” in each issue. The letter from the editors was always one of the more difficult pieces of content as the whole collective needed to consent to what was being said here on behalf of the whole group. We started published at Grand Blanc Printing because it was union and we never had enough money for delivery so we would drive out there and weigh down our car with bundles and bundles of print. Collective members often had the burden of storing these bundles at their apartment and I remember their hallways being stacked high with papers. As people graduated, the editorial collective started to diminish and when I moved to Detroit in 2005 I wanted to keep working on the paper so I put out a call to start a collective in Detroit. About 10 people came to that first meeting which was held in the space that is now The Hub in the CCNDC building. Eventually the Ann Arbor collective dissolved, and then I stopped working on Critical Moment as I got busy with other projects. It’s very impressive that the paper is still around, that an all-volunteer collective has survived several rounds of transition, and I love that Critical Moment has moved from being somewhat all-over-the place in terms of the content to becoming more firmly grounded in the place and politics of Detroit. Mike Meadow is a DJ and Communications Coordinator for Allied Media Projects.
Stop Sign Cut & Paint Materials
• Page 12 of Critical Moment • X-acto knife or carpet cutter • File folders or other stiff paper that can be cut somewhat easily • Tape • White spray paint • Cardboard or other cutting surface
*Important Legal Disclaimer: These instructions are a joke/for informational purposes only and should NOT be used to alter or improve signs or advertisements. The Critical Moment editorial collective does not advocate or condone improvement of public signs or advertisements and will not be held liable for such. Further, the instructions appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real instructions, living or dead, is completely coincidental.
1. Stenciling is best done with at least one look out. Find a friend who you trust and make a date to go out stenciling. 2. Assemble materials. 3. Tape stencil letters over file folder or other stiff stencil material. 4. Place on cardboard or other cutting surface. 5. Cut out letters. Hold stencil outline in place as necessary so you don’t tear it while cutting, or tape it well to file folder. 6. Take stencil and spray paint to favorite stop sign. Make sure there aren’t security cameras near you and post look out to ensure no one is coming. 7. Hold stencil up to sign. (The average stop sign is 6 ½’ to the bottom of the word ‘Stop’. A 8.
5’6” person can easily position this type of stencil.) Spray stencil with white spray paint. Don’t get caught. If you do get caught, don’t answer any questions and call the National Lawyers Guild 313-963-0843.
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