By Christy Strawser, CBS Detroit
DETROIT (CBS Detroit) – Dozens of people showed up for the International Workers’ Day rally in downtown Detroit, an event dedicated to protesting cuts to the bankrupt city’s pension system.
The rally was tied to May Day, an international celebration of workers and workers’ rights. Woodward Avenue near Grand Circus Park was briefly closed for the event.
One speaker with a bullhorn said protesters were there to chase Mike Ilitch, Roger Penske, Chase Bank, and other corporate entities out of town.
“This is our city, we built this city, we built this economy and we’re not playing, we are sick and tired of these lying dogs,” the speaker said.
“Our ancestors ended slavery, they built the UAW,” he added.
The banks were the target of several speeches, marked by, as one man said, “their racist foreclosure practices.” “Those banks owe us,” he said. “It’s the banks who should take care of the blight.”
Chants of “they owe us” broke out, followed by rousing choruses of “Make them pay.”
“Hands off the pensions, take it from the banks,” was another popular chant.
The Detroit demonstration was peaceful, but there were incidents of violence at other May Day celebrations. The New York Times reported 40,000 riot police had to use tear gas and water cannons to quell crowds in Instanbul, who were protesting government corruption.
Detroit, which is currently embroiled in the largest municipal bankruptcy filing in American history, has been pushed to the brink after years of borrowing to pay the bills, and the outcome for its workers is still unclear. The city is working with its unions on pension agreements, with a tentative agreement agreed upon earlier this week. The terms of the deal have not been disclosed, but the city has long said it can’t afford to pay pensioners the money that’s been guaranteed to them by past union contracts
“The workers, united, will never be defeated,” the crowd chanted.