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By Robert Allen, Detroit Free Press

DETROIT — Detroit police arrested nine protesters who were blocking a facilities entrance Friday afternoon that’s used by city contractors who’ve been shutting off water to delinquent customers.

Plastic restraints were used to handcuff the five men and four women who were loaded into a Detroit police bus at about 1:30 p.m. Another man, in a wheelchair, was lifted by officers into a van.

The protesters had been at the Transfer and Processing Facility used by Homrich on East Grand Boulevard since about 6:30 a.m. and were warned multiple times to clear the entrance. A line of cars belonging to contractors extended up a nearby hill as they waited for the protesters to leave.

The people who were arrested appeared calm and didn’t put up a fight as they were loaded onto the bus. Police Commander Elvin Barren said they likely will be released later today.

About 30 protesters were at the scene when the arrests started. They sang, “Water is a human right, we shall not be moved,” as the ones blocking the entrance were loaded into the bus.

Once the entrance was clear, several cars streamed in and several trucks streamed out.

The protesters picked up their signs, snacks, and noisemakers and left the scene within a half-hour of the arrests.

Police at the scene said that blocking the entrance was not only preventing water shut-offs, it was keeping taps from getting turned back on for people who paid up on overdue bills.

The shut-offs have attracted national attention as they’ve been ramped up by the bankrupt city working to recoup about $90 million owed for water use, according to previous reports.

Photo: ifmuth via Flickr

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