Detroit, March 24, 2018: National Conference to Defeat Austerity

Hosted by Moratorium NOW! Coalition and Defeat Austerity

St. Matthew’s – St. Joseph’s Church, 8850 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48202, 10 A.M. – 5 P.M.

Activists and organizations from cities across the U.S are coming to Detroit to participate in the National Conference to Fight Austerity in Detroit on Saturday March 24. The purpose of the national conference is to map out a strategy for defeating the war being waged by the banks, corporations and government against the workers and oppressed.

Detroit along with colonized Puerto Rico has been at the epicenter of bank imposed austerity against the workers and oppressed in this hemisphere. But every U.S. city from Chicago to Baltimore to Cleveland to Milwaukee, from New York City to Oakland and Seattle, has felt the brunt of this attack in the form of cutbacks, school closings, mass transit cuts, water shutoffs, gentrification and destruction of public service unions. And the Trump tax plan and Pentagon War build-up continues the massive transfer of wealth to the rich at the expense of the poor.

Highlights of the conference include a presentation by Ricardo Santos-Ramos, former president of the Electrical Industry and Irrigation Workers Union of Puerto Rico, who will address the continued devastation on the island for the workers and poor. Maurice B.P. Drew, co-executive director of the Refund America Project will conduct a workshop on understanding the financial instruments used by the banks to strangle cities like those that led to the Detroit bankruptcy.

The program for the conference is listed below:

Opening plenary: Chair: Dior Gabrielle – homeless advocate Detroit

1. Welcome to Detroit and history of austerity in Detroit – Yvonne Jones, Detroit Active and Retired Employees Association, city of Detroit retiree
2, What is austerity — putting Detroit in context of world attacks against working class by banks and finance captial — Abayomi Azikiwe, Moratorium Now Coaltion
3. The Trump tax plan and Pentagon buildup – A declaration of war on all social programs for the poor
4. The West Virginia Teachers – resisting to austerity by teachers and workers throughout the south – Dante Strobino, organizer with North Carolina Public Service Workers Union – UE Local 150, Southern Workers Assembly
5. Reverend Edward Pinkney – Michigan’s Political Prisoner – imprisoned for fighting austerity

Short Talks introducing and leading into workshops – 10:45 – 11:15 – workshops 11:15 -12:30
1. What are interest rate swaps and the other financial instruments being used by banks to rob cities and countries worldwide — a how to on deciphering them and applying them to our daily struggles — Maurice B.P. Drew — executive director of Refund America Project, ACRES
2, The Poor Peoples Campaign, Planning mass civil disobedience in 32 states – Yexenia Vanegas, Detroit organizer for the Poor Peoples Campaign
3. The Housing Crisis, foreclosures, evictions and gentrification (Vanessa Fluker, People’s anti-foreclosure attorney)
4, Education crisis – The Defunding and Privatization of Public Education, Elena Herrada, Detroit School Board in Exile – Helen Moore longtime housing activist
5.Water Shutoffs (workshop leader to be announced)
6. Food Justice – fighting low wages and inaccessibility of healthy food to the oppressed – Johnathan Roberts, Director of ROC Michigan
7. Youth and Austerity (workshop leader to be announced)

12:30 – 1:30 pm – lunch, served in the hall, provided by ROC

1:30 – 2:30 International Dimensions of Struggle Against Austerity – Chair, Abayomi Azikiwe
1. Featured speaker – Ricardo Santos Ramos, former president Electrical Industry and Irrigation Workers Union of Puerto Rico. Reporting on the role of Promesa and the imposition of massive debt service on the continued devastation in Puerto, and the moves to privatize public institutions
2. Julia Kassem, Organizer of US. Palestine Community Network, Detroit
3. Recording of Jesus Rodriguez Espinosa, former Counsel General for Chicago, on current developments in Venezuela
4. Other recordings from anti-austerity groups worldwide

National Town Hall on the Fight Against Austerity – 2:30 – 4:00
Jerry King, A Phillip Randolph Institute
Baltimore Bus and Transit Riders Union
People’s MTA New York City (transit struggle)
Baxter Jones – the struggle of Persons with Disabilities
Speaker from Juvenile Justice Movement
Speaker on the struggle for Immigrant Rights
Women and the fight against Austerity
The LGBTQ movement and the struggle for workers rights
Reports from various cities in attendance – Chicago, Philadelphia, Salt Lake City
Living Wage Campaign — Rev. Rideout – D-15 movement and Defenders of Truth and Justice
Reports on robbery of Detroit by Gilbert and Ilitch through tax breaks and tax captures
Jerry King, A Phillip Randolph Institute

Final Plenary 4:00 – 5:00
Action proposals
Demonstration against Tax foreclosures
National Days of Action Against U.S, Wars
Poor People’s Campaign
May Day
Others to be announced
Summation of the Day

Dinner – 5:00 – 6:00 in the hall

Cultural Program 6:00 to 8:00 pm

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