Monday, May 18, 2009

Detroit June 14-17: People's Summit vs. National Business Summit

Detroit June 14-17

People’s Summit vs. National Business Summit

By Kris Hamel
Published May 17, 2009 9:41 PM

Organizers of the People’s Summit, including a tent city, in downtown Detroit June 14-17 report momentum is building for the event. It’s billed as “four days of active resistance” to counter the National Business Summit held June 15-17 at the GM Renaissance Center.

On May 5 the Detroit City Council approved the People’s Summit application for a permit allowing the four-day demonstration based in Grand Circus Park on Woodward Ave. Organizers spoke at several meetings urging council members to override the police and other city departments that had recommended denying the permit. Councilwoman JoAnn Watson was instrumental in obtaining a unanimous vote granting a permit for the tent city.

‘Big business doesn’t speak for us!’

The National Business Summit Web site shows an array of 99 percent white and mostly male speakers at their event, which will be co-chaired by Ford Motor Company executive head Bill Ford and Dow Chemical chief executive Andrew Liveris. They call it a national gathering “to define America’s future” and exhort other corporate giants to “Make your voice heard–stand up for your country, your company, and your future!” (

Former Michigan Governor John Engler, who is hated by workers and the poor throughout the state for his legacy of racism, welfare gutting, cutbacks and attacks on unions, will be among over 40 speakers at the big-business event. Engler is now the president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers.

Richard Dauch, the chairman and CEO of American Axle & Manufacturing, Inc., is also a slated speaker. Dauch recently announced that the AAM plant in Hamtramck, Mich., the site of a bitter strike by union workers in 2008, will be closed and operations moved to Mexico. About 3,000 AAM workers already had their jobs eliminated last year.

Because of lower-than-expected registrations—at $1,495 a pop!—the business summit was moved from Ford Field and the registration fee slashed to “only” $695. It seems the conveners of the event, sponsored by the Detroit Economic Club, realized late in the game that the capitalist economic crisis was even affecting some rich folks. The reduced registration fee, however, is still too exorbitant for poor people and workers, including laid-off and unemployed workers, to have a “voice.”

‘Bail out the people!’

Literature for the People’s Summit declares: “How dare these big-business honchos come to Detroit to plot how to enrich themselves further while we struggle against home foreclosures and evictions, homelessness, mass layoffs and plant closings, utility cutoffs, school shutdowns, budget cuts, record-high unemployment, racism and every other kind of outrage!” Organizers say their event will allow the true voice of the people to be heard.

The People’s Summit will include a tent city, marches, demonstrations, rallies, cultural programs, meals and town hall meetings to discuss a “People’s Stimulus Plan and Economic Bill of Rights” so that poor and working people can define their own vision of a future free of social and economic injustice and inequality.

“Bail out the people!” has become a rallying cry for the People’s Summit, which will protest the multi-trillion-dollar give-away to the big banks and corporations that have caused the very economic crisis facing working-class people today.

Many issues will be taken up during the four-day event, which is seen as an all-inclusive demonstration linking the many struggles challenging the war on poor and working people. The People’s Summit will put forward a program for jobs, universal health care, a moratorium on foreclosures and evictions, and full rights for oppressed nationalities, immigrants, people with disabilities, women and the lesbian/gay/bi and trans communities, along with other demands.

Endorsers of the People’s Summit include the national anti-war group Code Pink, U.S. Rep. John Conyers Jr., the Toledo Foreclosure Defense League, the national Bail Out the People Movement, Latinos Unidos de Michigan, Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, Auto Worker Caravan, United Auto Workers Local 909 Executive Board, the Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures and Evictions, and many other groups and individuals.

People’s Summit organizers are doing intensive outreach and leafleting. Already the event has received media attention from the Detroit News, Crain’s Detroit Business, Michigan Citizen, Detroiter, Metro Times and other outlets. Activists from Cleveland and Toledo, Ohio, Chicago, Atlanta, New York City and Raleigh-Durham, N.C., are planning to attend.

Donations of food, supplies and funds for the People’s Summit are being solicited. Checks or money orders payable to the Moratorium NOW! Coalition/People’s Summit can be sent to 5920 Second Ave., Detroit, MI 48202. Call 313-887-4344 or visit for more information or to endorse, get leaflets and volunteer.
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