By Christy Strawser
DETROIT (CBS Detroit) The meme is soaring through social media channels faster than a greased backside on a slip and slide.READ MORE: Man Who Posted FBI Gang Chart On Social Media Gets Probation
Featuring a snaking sapphire blue and Kelly green water slide, the meme says “Detroit cuts off water to 30,000, builds 1,000 foot water slide downtown and charges $15 per ride.”
The accompanying post says: “Detroit just announced they will build a 1,000 foot luxury water slide through downtown and charge customers $15 per ride while they continue to shut off water to 3,000 low-income homes per week. Share if you agree this is deeply immoral and insane!”
But there’s a problem: It’s not true.
While it is true Detroit has been attempting to shut off water to 30,000 residents who are 60 days or $15 past due on their bill — which brought outcries from around the country — the city isn’t “building a water slide.”
Rather, Detroit is on the list for a 1,000 foot-long water slide run by a company called Slide the City, a promotions firm that travels around the country to events with a giant slide.
Slide the City’s website says it will visit locations in Michigan soon, including Grand Rapids, Lansing, Ann Arbor, Flint and Detroit. It’s unknown which events the slide will visit, or if any are actually inside the city of Detroit; the website lists a site in Livonia as their actual Detroit stop.
That doesn’t matter to Carl Gibson, co-founder of U.S. Uncut, which lists its headquarters on Facebook as Salt Lake City, Utah, and describes itself as an Occupy Wall Street organizer.
“The point still stands, Detroit is showing preferential treatment to a private corporation, it is clearly a double standard,” Gibson told CBS Detroit.
Even if the slide is in Livonia and approved only by officials there, the suburb might use Detroit water, he says. He adds that while Detroit isn’t actually building a water slide, the city is at least tangentially allowing its water resources to be used for a moneymaking corporation while shutting it off to indigent residents.READ MORE: Stimulus Check Latest: Is A Fourth Relief Payment Coming?
“You can’t look at that and honestly say Detroit is treating private citizens and private corporations the same way,” Gibson said, adding, “The point is certainly correct, we’re never outright saying this water slide is in Detroit proper, it’s being built right now. It’s kind of through context that the two different treatments are preferential to one and unfair to another.
“It just seems like a huge middle finger to the people who had their water shut off.”
As part of its national water slide tour, Slide the City announced it will give a portion of the proceeds to generosity.org, with the goal of providing clean water to 10,000 people.
The post about “Detroit building a giant water slide” has garnered almost 30,000 shares, 25,000 likes, and hundreds of comments. “What would happen if all the low-income families rushed it and didn’t pay and just started bathing, even brought their laundry?” someone using the moniker Muhammad Al-Europee wrote on the post.
U.S. Uncut was called out by several commentators for irresponsible reporting, and quickly fired back saying they had confirmed “the water is in fact coming from Detroit’s system.”
They told another objector: “We read the entire story and just because the slide is temporary and built by private company doesn’t change the facts at all: Detroit is providing a private corporation with public roads and public water that they’re denying their own citizens. It’s simple as that. A commenter said “Detroit needs this slide.” Guess what, humans *need* water to survive. Think before you justify inhumanity.”
Justin Stewart, a former metro Detroiter who now lives in Phoenix, Ariz., said he could hardly believe it when the meme was shared by a group page in his neighborhood. The slide is also bringing its water needs to a desert location in Phoenix, but they were making fun of Detroit.
“Slide the City is not a government entity,” Stewart said, adding when he saw it on Facebook he thought, “It’s so easy to beat up on Detroit without thinking about it, it kind of really made me angry, being from Detroit.”
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