Documentary screening on campus raises awareness about Detroit water shutoffs

Photo courtesy of Fiana Arbab.
Photo courtesy of Fiana Arbab.

By Julia Kassem,Staff Writer

On Wednesday, March 18, activists from Detroit joined idealists at The University of Michigan-Dearborn to view local filmmaker Kate Levy’s “Stories from Detroit about Water.”

The documentary addressed a local issue that warranted global intervention when the United Nations squabbled with Mayor Duggan on behalf of the over 30,000 residents that faced shut offs. Community members and their supporters, having relentlessly toiled to develop a water affordability plan, nonetheless had their water revoked at one point.

“The documentary was really interesting,” remarked sophomore and Food Recovery Network president Kelsey Griffin. “There were a lot of really upsetting stories told, and I was surprised at how little has been done since the shutoffs began.”

Kelsey also alluded to the insurmountable debts accrued by the Joe Louis Arena, along with Comerica Park and other big companies in Detroit to the municipal water debtors who otherwise weren’t facing water shut offs.

“So the people were obviously upset that they were treated differently because they didn’t have the same social status or control over what goes on in the city as a large company would,” said Griffin.

However, when considering that depriving a pet of water is a federal crime, Detroit’s people not only have less leverage through their voice than does a municipal megacorps, but their fundamental human rights can’t even come up to par with intra-national animal rights.

Levy’s documentary came to life through the different chronicles activists from the People’s Water Board had brought to UM-Dearborn just two months earlier. Levy continued on, spurring and reviving discussion following the screening with a Q and A follow up, taking suggestions from students on where the film needed improvement on and taking in critique.
However, whatever mechanical or cosmetic improvements could be made in Levy’s film underscored the fact that the brief screening allowed little time for discussion. Students, activists (and student activists) can agree on the importance of continuing the ongoing discussion for local as well as global justice.