While a milestone of injustice, it is important to recognize that today November 4th, 2021, marks the Justice for Beniteau group’s 25th meeting. Residents held 12 meetings prior to COVID-19, shifted to smaller online meetings during the pandemic and have recently returned to socially distanced meetings here on the block.
Even in the face of a pandemic, Beniteau residents have kept this fight going and have ceaselessly organized and pushed back. By doing so the residents have built a great deal of power and not only established, but greatly increased visibility of this injustice for regulators, decision makers, the media, and the public.
Detroit People’s Platform want to recognize this milestone, the hard work of the leadership team, and the courage of the residents who continue to fight for better outcomes for Beniteau and for all Detroiters.
Social Media: https://www.facebook.com/justbeniteauresidents
Media/Press Coverage - Beniteau in the News
Work and Wins 2019
- April 18 - MDEQ Public Hearing - Attended the initial MDEQ (Now EGLE) public hearing for the Permit to Install. With support from Great Lakes Environmental Law Center raised concerns over the project’s inherent environmental racism; reducing emissions in a suburb to increase the pollution in Detroit and the projects impacts on public health.
- April 26 - Pushed EGLE to include both additional air monitoring and an environmental community benefit plan in the permit approval for the project. This represented a policy shift for EGLE. Read the Permit to Instal Approval
- May - Supported a phone campaign calling FCA’s international ethics hotline to complain about the injustice inherent in the project. This effort gained support from the operators of the 3rd party run hotline in Europe.
- July - Met with residents from Southwest Detroit and 48217 to learn about their long-term struggle and lived experience while pushing back on Marathon.
- July 22 - Collected public health surveys on the block and throughout the project’s “impact area” that have been successfully referenced by advocates and in the media. Read the Summary of Findings
- Aug. 2 - Supported a tour of the neighborhood with U.S. Congress Members Al Green (D-Texas) and Sylvia Garcia (D-Texas).
- September - With support from the office of Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib a letter was sent to EGLE and the Michigan Attorney General that included resident concerns and request for support in addressing the injustice inherent in the project.
- October - Supported the collection over 800 petition signatures calling on EGLE to demand a strong environmental community benefits plan from FCA.
- Oct. 28 - Hosted a press conference on the street with US Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib and Michigan Senator Stephanie Chang. The petitions were sent to EGLE of October 29, 2019.
- November - Gathering frequently, residents developed a strategy to push back on FCA, decision makers at the city level and the state regulators at EGLE.
- Dec. 2 - Supported a tour of the neighborhood with Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and her team.
- Dec. 17 - Organized residents to attend the mayor’s city charter mandated community meeting to demand a meeting.
Work and Wins 2020
- Jan. 6 - Meeting with Mayor Duggan - Beniteau Residents met with Mayor Duggan. He was dismissive and disrespectful.
- Residents respond by creating the Justice for Beniteau Residents Statement and Demands that have guided the work since. Read the demands.
- Jan. 30 - LPD Public Hearing - Residents presented their demands to the Legislative Policy Division at a public hearing on amendments to the city’s Community Benefit Ordinance.
- Feb. 14 - Gained the solidarity of Detroit artists who boycotted the city’s call for mural artist to paint FCA’s wall on Beniteau. The artist statement reads; “We support art that is for and by the community, not weaponized against US. We denounce this blatant act of masking injustice with murals and using artists to validate state violence.” Read the Artists Statement
- April - Presented recommendations for home repair funds to support Beniteau residents to Council Member Spivey and the rest of Detroit City Council.
- May 7 - Signed on to a letter with Environmental Justice and Tribal Groups across the state of Michigan calling on EGLE to protect communities burdened by pollution during COVID-19.
- July 1 - With support from Anthony Adams of Marine-Adams Law residents researched the zoning and title history of the expansion to verify that all required legal steps had been taken in the project.
- Sept. 9 - EGLE Public Hearing - Mobilized residents and supporters to attend and make public comment at the first EGLE public hearing on FCA’s Paint Plant air permits. VIDEO
- Sept. 15 - National partners Color of Change launch an online petition demanding FCA address environmental racism in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and corporate commitments to racial justice.
- Sept. 22 - Advocated for C.A.R.E.S. funding to be used to make homes safe to live in on Beniteau and in areas of the city most vulnerable to COVID-19.
- Oct. 9 - Created the powerful and well-viewed Beniteau Stories video series.
- Dec. 3 - Organized with neighbors to push back at FCA’s Annual Update. The residents shifted some NAC members and Arthur Jemison proposed expanding the home repair program. He left the city for HUD in January 2021 and so did his proposal.
- Dec. 7 - Meeting with FCA - With national support and pressure from Color of Change, after months of pressure, a delegation of Beniteau residents met with FCA. FCA representative Ron Stalworth was dismissive and disrespectful.
Work and Wins 2021
- March 16 - EGLE Public Hearing - Mobilized residents and supporters to attend and make comment at EGLE’s second public hearing for the paint plant. The second hearing was held due to changes in the plant made by FCA.
- March 26 - Pushed for an extension in the EGLE public comment period due to the failure to post information about the hearing to their website calendar.
- April 1 - With support from Ecology Center installed two purple air monitors on resident homes on Beniteau. Residents can check air quality in real time in the impact area at https://map.purpleair.com/
- April 22 - Wrote letters to federal, state and local decision makers requesting funds from the federal stimulus package and proposed infrastructure funding be specifically slated for home repair on Beniteau. Letter to CM Spivey Letter to US Congresswoman Tlaib
- May 26 - Meeting with EGLE and Demolition Department - Working with Great Lakes Environmental Law Center scheduled a meeting with EGLE and City of Detroit about asbestos and demolition violations. The meeting revealed that in addition to four violations on the street Beniteau residents were not properly notified or educated. WATCH THE MEETING
- June - Advocated in multiple meetings held by the city administration that American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds support home repair and relocation on Beniteau and impacted neighborhoods throughout the city.
- June 3 - Successfully interrupted the Chrysler Jeep Stellantis “Greenest Initiative” press conference to raise awareness of the company’s failure protect its closest neighbors. Photos and Media Coverage
- Sept. 13 - Hosted a press conference sharing that over 5,000 national supporters have signed on to the Color of Change petition calling on FCA/Stellantis to address resident demands.
- Sept. 20 - First EGLE Violation Order filed – These violation orders were a direct response to Beniteau residents complaining of being overwhelmed by paint fumes. Residents report burning eyes, throat irrigation, headaches and breathing issues. Read the Violation
- Sept. 30 - Filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the City of Detroit Law Department. The FOIA strives to trace the paper trail of complaints between residents and the city. Read the FOIA
- Oct. 5 - Due to resident engagement with local media Detroit City Council were made aware of the EGLE violation. Council President called for an update from the City Law Department, the Civil Rights Inclusion and Opportunity Dept (CRIO), and the Public Health Department. Through this discussion It was revealed that CRIO and the Law Department were unaware of the violations. WATCH THE VIDEO
- Oct. 18 - Residents traveled Stellantis’ Headquarters in Auburn Hills, MI to deliver the Color of Change petitions. The company refused to receive them, as they have refuses to recognize their impact on air quality and quality of life.
- Oct. 25 - Second EGLE Violation Order filed Read the Violation
- Oct. 27 - Hosted a resident-led press conference next to the entrance of to respond to the second air quality violation filled by EGLE on October 25, 2021
- Nov. 3 - Third EGLE Violation Order filed Read the Violation
- Nov. 3 - Detroit City Council Resolution unanimously passed. The resolution requests a Supplemental Environmental Plan (SEP) as part of the resolution of the EGLE violations.
- Nov. 4 - 25th meeting!