DETROIT (WWJ) – Over 1,000 protestors converged on the Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit on Wednesday to make some noise at the General Electric Annual Shareholders meeting.
Demonstrators claim GE has avoided paying $26 billion in taxes, while leaving “the 99-percent” to deal with deficits and layoffs, while sending jobs overseas.
GE says their taxes are paid.
Kelly Albrecht of Wisconsin was fed up enough to come to Detroit for the protest. She was among those who made their way into the meeting.
“We made it very loud and clear that we expect them to carry their own tax burden and carry their own share of taxes,” Albrecht said. “They had the police escort us out. They didn’t want to respond to us at all … They continue to ignore us and refuse to hear our cries.”
Protesters came from as far as Chicago, Cleveland and Philadelphia.
On another front, GE retirees, including at least one man from Kentucky, were protesting the lack of cost of living adjustments for their pensions.
“So, we’re gonna keep trying,” he told WWJ Newsradio 950′s Ron Dewey. “If we go long enough somethin’ will happen. I’m only 90, so what the heck!”
But does this cast Detroit in a negative light? Rev. Kevin Johnson of the Interfaith Coalition said he doesn’t buy the notion that Detroit will discourage new business and jobs with protests such as these.
“I believe that when people see that the citizens of Detroit will stand up it will invoke other individuals to stand up and hold their ground also,” he said. “People love Detroit … Detroit needs to stop being victimized by the media.”
Rev. Johnson said he and others were allowed inside in meeting very briefly before they were kicked out.
Detroit Police said the protest tied up officers for about two and half hours, but it was a peaceful demonstration and couldn’t have gone better.
“The citizens of the city of Detroit, they came down here to demonstrate, did an excellent job as far as the way that they interacted with the Detroit Police department,” said Detroit Police Inspector Don Johnson. “Our officers did an excellent job as well, and my hat’s off to everybody involved.”
Johnson said, however, two people were arrested following the protest.
“They were arrested for disobeying the lawful order of a police officer, and both those individuals are in our custody,” he said, adding that the arrests didn’t have anything to do with the protest itself.
Johnson said, for security reasons, he can’t reveal how many officers were assigned to the effort.