DETROIT (WWJ) – Nearly 200 Detroiters gathered on Belle Isle to protest a state proposal to take control of the island under the consent agreement with the city.
Many at Wednesday’s rally argued that turning the island over to the state would be “just another giveaway.”
Lifelong Detroiter Ernest Carson said his parents and grandparents paid taxes so that everyone could enjoy the island. He said everything is being taken away.
“We have no voice. They gerrymandered our right to vote and our right to govern ourselves out — now they taking this,” Carson said. “When do they stop? What can we do? Can we get our guns and fight ‘em?”
Detroit City Councilman Kwame Kenyatta is among those who would support a peaceful occupy effort to draw attention to what’s at stake.
“We occupy the island for the Grand Prix. They have tents out here for the Grand Prix, and they stay out for the whole three weeks,” Kenyatta said. “So, if citizens of Detroit who pay taxes want to come out and have a weekend of support for the island, no, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.”
Gov. Rick Snyder has said that, by making Belle Isle a state park, the state would be able to “help alleviate some of the city’s costs while maintaining a wonderful place for all to enjoy.”
Belle Isle, 985-acre island located midway between Detroit and Windsor, has been owned by the city since 1879. In recent years the island has suffered as Detroit can’t afford needed repairs.
Before the consent agreement was reached, Detroit was on course to be more than $400 million in debt.