Tue, 1 March 2016
“The State of Michigan itself has done “irreparable harm” to the schools and people of Detroit.”
Next week, on March 7, Steve Conn and Nicole Conoway are scheduled to appear before a Michigan judge to explain why they should not be legally prohibited from urging Detroit teachers to stage sickouts and an eventual citywide strike to halt the state’s methodical destruction of the city’s public schools. Ms. Conoway is a teacher and Mr. Conn was elected president of the Detroit teachers union, before the union’s butt-kissing national leadership deposed him. Conn and his allies at the activist organization BAMN, By Any Means Necessary, spearheaded a series of teacher sickouts that focused national attention on the appalling conditions in Detroit’s schools, which have been literally ground into the dirt by the state for 16 of the past 17 years. The State of Michigan will try to prove that Conn and Conoway must be silenced – their First Amendment rights to free speech and assembly snatched away – because the sickouts have supposedly subjected the schools to “irreparable harm.”
It is, of course, the State of Michigan itself that has done “irreparable harm” to the schools and people of Detroit, through the exact same mechanism that the State used to inflict irreparable harm on the bodies and brains of the children and community of Flint, Michigan. Both were targeted by Gov. Rick Synder’s dictatorial emergency financial manager system, whose mission in Flint was to privatize the water supply, and in Detroit, to convert what’s left of the public schools to privately-run charters.
Depraved Indifference to Human Life
Recently-released email records show that Gov. Synder’s underlings knew for a full year that potentially irreparable harm was being done to the majority Black population of Flint. Yet, the state made no attempt to deal with high levels of lead and other poisons in the city’s water – proof of the Snyder administration’s depraved indifference to human life, the same depraved indifference that it showed to the students, teachers and parents of Detroit. As Pamela Pugh, treasurer of Michigan’s elected Board of Education has written, “After more than six years of a failed state takeover, Detroit Public Schools have deteriorated into a destabilized education system....” She continued: “Just as Flint’s water crisis occurred under emergency management, so did the demise of the Detroit school district.”
Darnell Earley was the Black henchman for Gov. Snyder’s crimes against humanity in both Flint and the Detroit schools – a killer for hire with the title of emergency financial manager. Under corporate rule, high finance is the motive for the highest of crimes, while the exercise of free speech and assembly and other fundamental democratic rights are criminalized. In Michigan, the “predicate crime,” as lawyers would call it, was theft of democracy in the state’s Black cities, from which all the other crimes flowed. But the only people that are at risk of losing their liberties on March 7 are Steve Conn and Nicole Conoway, for attempting to organize their fellow teachers, parents and community members for the survival of public education in Detroit.
Michigan is showing that the corporate and financial classes of the United States can no longer coexist with democratic institutions, especially when Black people’s rights are at issue. Either we get rid of them, or they get rid of us.
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.