Detroit Homeland Security: Don't Ignore The Messenger
This was a project of Detroit Homeland Security--Bryce Detroit, Shanna Merola and Kate Levy, and was developed for the Porous Borders festival in May, 2015.
In 1980, amidst trends factories moving overseas, a desparate city of Detroit used the power of eminent domain to displace a largely Polish community of 4200 residents and 120 businesses to make way for the construction of General Motors' Poletown plant. While the city bought out each home for approxmiately $15,000, they sold each acre to General Motors for $18,000. These letters were written from Poletown residents to Congressman Cockrel against the plan. Cockrell was the only council member at the time to vote against the construction. Now, if the plant operates at all, it operates at half capacity--employing a mere 1800 workers. We found the letters in Ken Cockrel, Jr.'s archive at the Walter Reuther Library at WSU. We selected, enlarted and wheat-pasted images of the letters near the site of the Poletown factory, and echo the ongoing tax foreclosure crisis in the city. As Merola remarked, a letter that is marked "adamant refusal" and then put in a drawer for 35 years drawer is worthy of enlarging.