Letter to Detroit Charter Commissioners: Adopt the Detroiters' Bill of Rights, embed our values into the City Charter
Dear Honorable Charter Commissioners,
We, the undersigned Detroit organizations, institutions, nonprofits, block clubs, and allies, support the package of proposed charter amendments known as the Detroiters' Bill of Rights. We call on you to adopt them into the recommendations sent to the ballot in 2021.
The Offices of Council Member Raquel Castañeda-López and President Pro Tem Mary Sheffield worked with racial, environmental, immigrant, and disability justice advocates, as well as housing, water, and transit content experts to put forth this package of Detroiters' Bill of Rights in response to the decades long struggle for racial equity and social justice.
The Detroiters' Bill of Rights is rooted in our country’s value of opportunity -- the opportunity to achieve our fullest potential as human beings -- with the recognition that opportunity must be based on the following principles of racial equity and social justice:
- RACIAL EQUITY: Racial equity is the condition where one's racial identity no longer influences how one fares in society. This includes the creation of racially just policies, practices, attitudes and cultural messages, and the elimination of structures that reinforce differential experiences and outcomes by race.
- SOCIAL JUSTICE: The principle that everyone deserves equitable economic, political and social rights. We advance social justice by removing barriers people face because of their gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture, disability, or sexual orientation or gender identity, and promoting their rights.
Detroit’s struggle is rooted in systemic racism, oppression, and economic inequality. For decades, Detroiters have fought for access to water, affordable and safe housing, reliable public transit, and access to economic opportunities. In Detroit, the promise of the “American Dream” is just that, a dream, with 35% of residents living in poverty and more than 50% of Detroit’s children living in poverty. In the movement for Black lives, we know that the effects of colonization, slavery, and Jim Crow are everpresent. Today, they have different names and take different forms: school-to-prison pipeline, mass incarceration, mass surveillance, and more, permeating every aspect of our lives.
We must be dedicated to creating systems that dismantle anti-blackness, center Black Detroiters, and create equitable access to and distribution of resources for the most vulnerable people in Detroit. We must join the global struggle against colonization, white supremacy and brutality, in defense of Black lives and to win our collective liberation.
Detroit has always risen above adversity and given birth to movements for social justice. The Detroiters' Bill of Rights continues this legacy by embedding in the city’s charter the principles of racial equity and social justice to protect residents' basic human and civil rights.
While we all play a role in upholding these values and principles, as Charter Commissioners you have a unique responsibility in advancing these principles. We ask you to embed these basic human rights into our City Charter and adopt the Detroiters' Bill of Rights:
Detroiters' Bill of Rights
1. Right to Water and Sanitation: Every Detroit resident has the right to clean and affordable water and sanitation for personal and domestic use.
- Prohibit water shut-offs
- Establish a water affordability program
2. Right to Environmental Health: Every Detroit resident, regardless of their zip code is entitled to live in an environment with clean air, soil and water.
- Establish an Environmental Justice Commission, Office of Environmental Justice & Sustainability & Public Health Fund
3. Right to Safety: Every Detroit resident is entitled to live in safe communities and has the right to live free of threat or harm from one another and city agencies.
- Demilitarize the police, restrict surveillance and immigration enforcement/partnerships.
4. Right to Live Free from Discrimination:
- Immigrant Communities: Every Detroit resident, regardless of their immigration status, is guaranteed the same fundamental rights and protection of the law from discriminatory practices.
--Establish an Immigrants Affairs Commission, Office of Immigrant Affairs and adopt a language access policy.
- Disabled Communities: Every person with disabilities in Detroit, regardless of their ability status, is entitled to the same rights and freedoms as able-bodied peoples in the City.
--Establish an Disability Rights Commission, Office of Disability Affairs and adopt a language access policy.
5. Right to Recreation: Every Detroit resident is entitled to access to parks, recreational opportunities and urban green spaces to protect and enhance their health and well-being.
- Adopt the WHO standards for creation of urban green space and a plan.
6. Right to Access and Mobility: Every Detroit resident, regardless of their zip code, has the right to safe, accessible and affordable public transit options whether walking, biking, driving, rideshare, or using public transit
- Create a low-income fare, motorized/non-motorized transit plans & strengthen the transit advisory commission.
7. Right to Housing: Every Detroit resident is entitled to affordable, habitable, safe and accessible housing.
- Define affordability based on the City’s AMI, establish the Affordable Housing Trust Fund and require annual reporting.
8. Right to Fulfillment of Basic Needs: Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of themselves and of their family, including food, utilities and water and sanitation, clothing, affordable housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to care in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond their control.
- Create budgeting principles to invest in health, housing, transit, recreation and certain departments.
Organizations as of July 30, 2020 - 10:00am:
Accounting Aid Society
ACLU of Michigan
Advocates for Baba Baxter
Allied Media Projects
Amnesty International, Detroit Chapter
Association of Chinese Americans, Inc.
Bangladeshi American Public Affairs Committee (BAPAC)
Black Lives Matter Detroit
Bridging Communities, Inc.
Caribbean Community Service Center (CCSC)
Center for Community Based Enterprise (C2BE)
Center for Peace and Conflict Studies, Wayne State University
Cities of Peace Detroit
Clean Water Action
Coalition for Property Tax Justice
Coalition to Oppose the Expansion of US Ecology
Community Movement Builders
Community Development Advocates of Detroit
Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety
Congress of Communities
Detroit Affordable Housing Task Force
Detroit Affordable Housing Trust Fund Coalition
Detroit and Michigan Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild
Detroit Black Community Food Security Network
Detroit Catholic Pastoral Alliance
Detroit Coalition for a People's Budget
Detroit Community Technology Project
Detroit Cultivator Community Land Trust
Detroit Democracy Action Working Network
Detroit Digital Justice Coalition
Detroit Disability Power
Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation
Detroit Jews for Justice
Detroit Justice Center
Detroit Metropolitan Association Social Justice Team, United Church of Christ
Detroit People's Platform
Detroit Women of Color, Inc.
Earth Ethics, Inc.
East Michigan Environmental Action Council/Cass Commons
Eastside Community Network
Economic Justice Alliance of Michigan
Educational Arts Society
Empowering a Green Economy and Environment (Ege2)
Equitable Detroit Citywide Coalition
Equitable Internet Initiative (EII)
Food & Water Action
For Love of Water (FLOW)
Freedom House Detroit
Great Lakes Environmental Law Center
Green Light Black Futures
Green Living Science
Green Toe Gardens
Heather Mack Consulting LLC
Homeless Action Network of Detroit
IHM Sisters Justice, Peace & Sustainability Office
Islamic Organization of North America
James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership
Joy Southfield Community Development Corporation
Just Speak Inc.
Littlefield Action for Social Justice
Metro Detroit Democratic Socialists of America
Metro Detroit Political Action Network
Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation
Michigan Coalition for Human Rights
Michigan Deaf Association
Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition
Michigan Immigrant Rights Center
Michigan Welfare Rights Organization
Milwaukee Water Commons
Moratorium NOW! Coalition
Motor City Freedom Riders
National Action Network Detroit Chapter
National Wildlife Federation's Great Lakes Regional Center
Neighborhood Defender Service of Detroit
New Michigan Media
North End Woodward Community Coalition
Oakland Avenue Urban Farm
People's Water Board Coalition
Progressive Democrats of America
Rent Party Detroit
Restaurant Opportunities Center of Michigan (ROC Michigan)
Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) - Metro Detroit
Sierra Club Detroit
Sisters of Charity Federation
Sisters of Mercy Justice Team
Southwest Detroit Business Association
Southwest Detroit Community Benefits Coalition
Southwest Detroit Community Justice Center
Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision
St. Peter’s Episcopal Church
Stephen Boyle Now
Sugar Law Center for Economic and Social Justice
Teens in the D Broadcast Media Group, LLC
The Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice
The Collective for Disability Justice (C4DJ)
The Original United Citizens of Southwest Detroit
The Storehouse of Hope
The University of Michigan-Dearborn, Masters Program in Criminology and Criminal Justice
The 48217 Community and Environmental Health
Torch With A Twist Vaudevillian Cabaret
Trans Sistas of Color Project
Transforming Power Fund
U SNAP BAC INC
United Community Housing Coalition
University of Michigan Semester in Detroit Program
Urban Neighborhood Initiatives
Warriors on Wheels
Water You Fighting For?
We the People of Detroit
WNUC 96.7 FM Radio
Youth Development Resource Center