DETROIT, March 3, 2016 — Protesters blocked Detroit streets ahead of the Republican presidential debate, demanding attention for the Flint water crisis and civil rights issues. Many of the protesters shouted “Flint Lives Matter,” while others held signs that read, “Arrest Gov. Snyder.” Protesters shouted “Dump Trump” as attendees entered the Fox News-sponsored debate.
Detroit Police officers stood to the side watching the protesters. Dozens cheered and clapped as a woman shouted, “Go home, Republicans! You’ve wrecked Detroit and poisoned our children. We don’t want you here. Get out!” Protesters represented a variety of organizations including, the National Action Network and the Fight for $15 organization, which calls on the candidates to support the fight for a $15 hourly wage.
Detroit’s NAN Chapter President Rev. Charles Williams believes the Republicans have not addressed the water crisis adequately. “There will be no American president that doesn’t address the American tragedy that happened in Flint, Michigan,” “None of these candidates have said nothing about Flint, Michigan. What we’re saying is what debate, what conversation can (candidates) have in Detroit or the state of Michigan that doesn’t involve Flint? We’re calling on Republicans to begin to move and make sure there are shovels in the ground and the people of Flint get safe drinking water immediately.”
Representatives of the Michigan Muslim Community Council protested what they see as the Republican Party’s racism. Police eventually cleared the area around the theatre entrance. Peaceful protesters who played music, chanted and sang were allowed to take up the street outside of the venue, though police stood behind a guard rail as attendees walked into the theatre. Among the sponsors of protests were the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), who apparently bused protesters to the venue