Michigan People’s March demands justice for all

BY: Michigan District, CPUSA| March 24, 2021
Michigan People’s March demands justice for all


“Whose streets? Our streets!”

This was one of the rallying cries at the People’s March in Michigan’s capital on March 20. Marchers representing several groups and issues took to the streets of an integrated, working-class neighborhood, calling for defunding the police, health care for call, safe housing, justice for immigrants, and more. Among the nearly 300 people who rallied and marched in Lansing was an enthusiastic contingent of the Michigan District CPUSA.

A car caravan followed the marchers, and some neighborhood residents stood at their doorsteps, waving and cheering in approval. A unified and diverse crowd of mostly young, African American, Latinx, Asian American, and trans folks rallied and marched as one.

Michigan District comrades, most of them young and many newer members from the west and east regions of the “mitten,” proudly carried red flags and Black Lives Matter/Defund the Police signs.

The People’s March was co-sponsored by a broad array of groups such as Detroit Will Breathe, Poor People’s Campaign of Michigan, No Detention Centers Michigan, Planned Parenthood, Movimiento Cosecha, Lansing Tenants Union, Sunrise, and several left organizations including the CPUSA.

“It’s up to us to speak up.”

The theme of unity and a strong anti-capitalist message dominated the speeches at the rally preceding the march.

Oscar from No Detention Centers Michigan spoke about the privately run prisons where immigrants are incarcerated. A prison in Baldwin is run by the Geo Group, a corporation that won a federal contract to house non-citizens convicted for immigration-related or other federal offenses. He pointed out that Geo Group was a big donor to the Trump campaign. In fact, Geo Group donated well over half a million to Trump and GOP PACs, received lucrative contracts in return, and enriched their stockholders. Ionia, a small city of 12,000 residents, is home to a prison holding 6,000 inmates. Yet ICE is building a new prison to house immigrants, to be run by a private corporation.

Oscar urged the crowd to tell others, especially those who “don’t think like us,” about the private prisons and “all this money wasted in those places.”

Pauli, of Movimiento Cosecha, talked about the immigrant working-class movement and the need to unite the 11 million undocumented immigrants: “We won’t let the Democrats divide [immigrants] between DACA and others.” Movimiento Cosecha is struggling for permanent protection for all immigrants, stopping the separation of families, and running a driver’s license campaign. She said, “Our enemy is not the . . . president, but this racism, white supremacy, and capitalist system.”  She announced a May Day rally in D.C. to demand respect, dignity, and permanent protection for the undocumented immigrants.


“All of these struggles are interconnected.”

Tom of Solidarity Defense criticized the billionaires who profited from the pandemic and increased their wealth by $931 billion in 2020, including Detroit mortgage mogul Dan Quicken, whose worth skyrocketed from $6.5 billion to $42.7 billion last year.

Yet the underpaid Amazon workers are treated like “productivity robots,” and the “injury rate at Amazon warehouses is three times that of the national average” according to OSHA. Workers in many industries are suffering during the pandemic, with many contracting COVID-19 and spreading it to other workers, “to the silence of management.”

Tom decried the capitalist system, which built an empire “on the back and blood of my people” and now “exploits and subjugates in order to survive.” After outlining issues like unsafe working conditions for teachers during the pandemic, violence against trans women, and people losing their homes, he said, “All of these struggles are interconnected. We cannot get through this without struggling together.”

Speaking of the Amazon unionizing struggle in Bessemer, Alabama, Preston of the Coalition of Workers Rights called Amazon “an empire of surveillance and speed-up . . . a union-busting fortress.” He said that “woke capitalism is still capitalism . . . a hip, liberal robber baron [Jeff Bezos] is still a robber baron.” His group is picketing Amazon in Ann Arbor to support Alabama workers because when they win, “it will inspire workers everywhere.” He noted, “All we have is each other: solidarity. With that solidarity we will tear down the walls of every empire.”


“I am a human being. And so are they. We all matter.”

Other speakers included Adam, an unhoused person who stated that the government “has no clue about our struggle. [It] has the means to put an end to this injustice but chooses to ignore it. We too have a right to live. We have a right to housing.”

Tobias of the Poor People’s Campaign said that the PPC is “empowering poor people to fight for themselves” and not “looking for white, rich people to save us.” He said, “I’m done being told by millionaires we don’t deserve a living wage.” He talked about the poisoning of Flint’s water, the non-democratic emergency managers, and the violence of the Lansing police: “If you are arrested today, you might be put in a cell where Anthony Hulon was suffocated less than a year ago, and you might be taken there by the very murderers who killed him.”


“Our job is to fight alongside people, not on their behalf.

Detroit Will Breathe and other groups held Black Lives Matter protests nearly every day in 2020. Tristan of DWB spoke of their experiences, including the ongoing prosecution of several DWB activists in a Detroit suburb. He said: “We have to mobilize every time we hear members of our community are under attack. We need to [fight for] resources that come from our labor,” including infrastructure, public works, schools, libraries, and housing. “The resources are there. But we have to be determined to seriously fight for it.” He continued:

We cannot substitute ourselves for the masses. Why do I say that? Because our job, as people who aspire to be leaders and revolutionaries, who aspire to make the humanness of every individual meaningful . . . our job is to fight alongside people, not on their behalf. . . . Our destiny is tied to each other and the masses.

The final speaker was Parker, representing A Network of Sex Workers to Excite Revolution (ANSWER). She said that sex workers have been “fighting for people’s rights, but our needs get left behind in the name of respectability politics.” The U.S. government even denied federal aid to taxpaying sex workers during the pandemic. She called for the decriminalization of sex work and more: “Laws can change but if hearts can’t change, it won’t matter. We need destigmatization . . . safe housing and work environment, respect, and love.” She ended with “Keep the revolution sexy!”

Before setting off for the march, one of the event organizers said that it was “inspiring to see all these groups coming together. We have to put aside our petty differences. . . . So let’s come together. The struggle is in the streets, not on the keyboard.”




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