Bailiffs and movers forcibly remove protesters who were protecting Taura Brown from being evicted in Detroit. | Photo courtesy of Steve Neavling / Detroit Metro Times
Originally published in the People’s World on April 10, 2023
DETROIT—The fight against predatory landlords has reached a new stage of struggle in the Motor City.
On March 21, after months of grassroots struggle for the protection of local resident Taura Brown and her home, Wayne County Judge Shawn Jacque of the 36th District Court signed a court order for her eviction.
Brown is a terminally ill Black woman on dialysis, with Stage 5 kidney failure. She has been fighting against a wrongful eviction and struggling against the so-called “community non-profit” Cass Community Social Services, headed by Rev. Faith Fowler, for two years.
Brown is now being evicted from her home—despite paying her rent on time—for speaking out against alleged fraud and micromanaging of residents in her community.
She was given ten days to remove her belongings, including the dialysis equipment that keeps her alive, but Brown and housing activists in Detroit were prepared to defend her home against an unjust and inhumane eviction at all costs.
On April 4, court officers executed the eviction order. Spearheaded by Detroit Eviction Defense, housing activists, including members of the Detroit Club of the Communist Party USA, stationed themselves at Brown’s address, ready to defend her and her home.
What ensued afterwards was a disturbing display of violence, intimidation, and brutality by Wayne County bailiffs to evict her. Activists were punched, thrown to the ground, kicked, spit at, and even threatened with a knife by the bailiffs and their “movers.”
The Detroit police officers who were present on the scene did little, if anything, to control the illegal and violent actions of the court officers and their contractors. The complicity of law enforcement on site came as no surprise, as the police primarily exist to defend private property at the will of slumlords and at the expense of working-class and poor people.
“No slumlords, no cops, all evictions have got to stop,” was the chant of the activists as they locked shoulder-to-shoulder and arm-in-arm in the face of the aggressive eviction team.
Despite the violence and intimidation, the day’s events adequately exposed the courts, police, and landlords as upholders of capitalism and white supremacy.
The Detroit Club of the Communist Party USA issued a statement commending “the bravery, determination, and revolutionary spirit of Ms. Brown, the home defenders, and our party members who risked arrest and harm in order to defend her and ultimately the interests of all working class and oppressed people.”
The violent eviction of Brown came a week after the Detroit City Council granted billionaires millions of dollars in tax incentives for the development of a gentrifying, profit-oriented project called “District Detroit,” which will include brand new hotels and amenities for those who can afford them, laying the basis for a general rise in rents, prices, and displacement for the residents already living there.
The inclination Detroit’s city government has to accommodate billionaires and higher income out-of-towners is ironic when city residents like Brown are being forced out of their homes at the will of Wayne County judges and fraudulent landlords. Many activists feel the city does not have the back of its residents—unless they’re white and rich, which is a racist and classist policy.
The Detroit Communist Party Club called for “an immediate stoppage to the wrongful and violent eviction of Ms. Brown and demand compensation for all damages as a result of this act of brutality—paid for in full by Rev. Faith Fowler and Cass Community Social Services.”
It also demanded an investigation into the actions of the bailiffs and their movers and said they should be charged to the fullest extent of the law. “The Detroit Police Department should also be investigated,” the Communists said, “for the inaction of their officers when confronted with violence and brutality against non-violent activists by the bailiffs and movers.”
The CPUSA members also drew attention to the bigger systemic issues, affirming “the need for unity of the working class in the struggle against the capitalist system which perpetuates exploitation, racism, sexism, and violence.”
The fight to defend Brown’s home is expected to intensify moving forward as the courts, the police, and the so-called “community philanthropist” group known as Cass Community Social Services regroup and prepare to retaliate.
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People’s World is a voice for progressive change and socialism in the United States. It provides news and analysis of, by, and for the labor and democratic movements to our readers across the country and around the world. People’s World traces its lineage to the Daily Worker newspaper, founded by communists, socialists, union members, and other activists in Chicago in 1924.