BAMN members and community activists continue the fight to stop the closure of Detroit branch libraries. This is a fight to defend our neighborhoods and our dignity and stop the decimation of our city by building our power through mass organizing to increase our numbers and by carrying out the following tactic:
“IF THERE ARE A LARGE NUMBER OF PEOPLE SURROUNDING THE LIBRARY THE TRUCKS WILL NOT EVEN PULL UP. If we start with a smaller group of people, we can take the items that the movers are moving out of the building, back into the building. We need to be more determined to keep the items in the library than the movers are to take them out. The people who are moving the items out of Lincoln know that what they are doing is wrong. If we give them an excuse not to do it they will welcome it. This is the tactic that our community needs to employ to stop the closure of our library, and in the future, to prevent their friends and neighbors from being evicted from their homes.”
We continue to hold regular pickets in front of all the branches threatened with closure. All our actions have been met with sympathetic press coverage which has helped to get out the word and make saving the libraries synonymous with saving Detroit.
Our fight has kept the books, computers and furniture in our libraries, and they are not boarded up.
Now the State of Michigan has declared a one BILLION dollar surplus in the state treasury! We will continue to mobilize to force the state to appropriate some of that surplus to keeping our libraries open.
On January 10th we persuaded the Detroit City Council to pass a resolution calling on the Governor and the Michigan State Legislature to appropriate funds from this year’s State surplus to reopen Detroit’s Lincoln, Monteith, Richard and Mark Twain library branches immediately, for the rest of the fiscal year 2012, while the Library Commission seeks future funding sources.
Next week we will picket Governor Snyder’s home on MLK Day and go to the next meeting of the Detroit Library Commission to demand that they reverse their vote to close the branch libraries, or step down.
Our Actions are Changing History
Before BAMN intervened and organized an occupation of Lincoln library to prevent its closure and then launched the anti-eviction strategy, people from the community had circulated and signed petitions, written letters, raised hell at the library commission meetings and talked to many politicians who expressed sympathy for our cause. But none of the politicians took the action needed to save our library, even though they know the money is there, because they believe that the only people who get to decide the future of Detroit are the rich and powerful bankers and billionaires, who have been systematically destroying our schools and our neighborhoods.
Dr. King and Rosa Parks Did Not Have the Support of the Mainstream Politicians.
What They Did Have Was Masses of People Prepared to Act
The politicians are wrong. If we mobilize our communities we have the power to determine the destiny of our city. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks and the other great leaders of the last civil rights movement did not have the money or the support of any of the mainstream politicians. What they did have was masses of people prepared to act, and the determination to win. Dr. King understood that our strength is in our numbers. If we can get the people of Detroit to understand the power in our numbers again and to take direct action, we can build a new civil rights movement in our city, that, like the civil rights movement of Dr. King, can defeat the rich and the powerful and the politicians who get in our way. The fight to save the libraries can play an important role in building the new civil rights movement. If we use the power of our numbers, the people of Detroit have the power to make Detroit what we want it to be. We are the only force that can prevent the further destruction of our city and create a Detroit that serves the interests of the vast majority of Detroiters.