For Immediate Release: January 31, 2005
Contact: Kim Hunter,
Media Coordinator, Sierra Club Mackinac Chapter
Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services
Detroiters Take a Step Toward Justice
Policy Goals Put Forward at Packed Town Hall Meeting
Detroit, January 31, 2005 – It was standing room only at Barth Hall as people from the Detroit area gave testimony and presented their ideas on the environmental justice, the intersection of civil rights and the environmental issues. Facilitated by Free Press columnist Desiree Cooper, the meeting began with research from Professor Bunyan Bryant of the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment and ended with enthusiastic support for state policy supporting environmental justice.
“The Campaign for State Action on Environmental Justice, effectively launched here tonight, is the first step toward a legal remedy for a serious, debilitating problem,” said Attorney Thomas Stephens of the Sugar Law Center. “Environmental racism decimates our health and our economy.”
Over 200 people, white, black, brown, city and suburban dwellers, children, teens and adults and many elected officials came together for the Town Hall Meeting on Environmental Justice. The event featured testimony from residents from environmental hotspots around Detroit, Dearborn and Hamtramck. Those people had their wish fulfilled.
During the open dialogue segment, State Senator Hansen Clarke asked for specific ways the state could deal with the disproportionate impact of pollution and dumping suffered by communities of color and low income communities. That was when Donele Wilkins of Detroiter’s Working for Environmental Justice (DWEJ) came forward with a set of goals for a state policy on environmental justice.
“From the Beard School, built on a toxic waste site to the CanFlow Company driving over here from Canada to dump waste in homes we’ve had enough, said Donele Wilkins of DWEJ.” We are going to protect ourselves and these policy goals are a first step.”
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