Press Release: Artists Demand Neighborhood Concerns be Addressed not Painted Over by Fiat Chrysler “Art Project”

For Immediate Release
Feb. 18, 2020

Artist Contact:
Halima Cassells

Resident Contact:
Gregg Newsom

Artists Demand Neighborhood Concerns be Addressed not Painted Over by Fiat Chrysler “Art Project”
Funding needed for home repair, not for artists who aren’t necessarily residents

DETROIT— Local artists have released a strong statement in response to the launch of the City of Detroit and Fiat Chrysler’s (FCA) global call for artists to paint “the largest municipal art installation in the city’s history.” The statement, which has quickly gained supporting signatures from prominent Detroit artists, charges that the city and FCA are using art to cover up the negative impacts of Fiat Chrysler’s Eastside expansion.

The artist statementreads; “Fiat Chrysler and The City of Detroit (City Walls and Arts and Culture Office) are attempting to use murals and artists to artwash and cover up the destruction of a neighborhood on the Eastside by the expansion of the Fiat Chrysler America (FCA) Facility.”

Sydney G. James, an international fine art muralist from Detroit’s Conant Gardens, said she signed the statement because, “I recognize that muralists and street artists are often used as weapons of mass gentrification. I make it a point to truly engage community wherever I work. And my work is reflective of community. Corporations and developers need to be conscious of the people, and these neighbors deserve to be treated with respect and have their voices heard, and needs met.”

In February of 2019, FCA announced the expansion of the Mack Ave. and Jefferson North plants. This privately-owned mega-project will receive over $400 million in public funds and incentives over the next 30 years. The scale of public investment in the project triggered the city’s Community Benefits Ordinance.

As part of the FCA CBA the residents who live closest to FCA’s new assembly line and paint plant have been given priority to apply for $15,000 in home repair grants, which residents have found is not enough to cover the repairs needed or additional damage to homes from nearby construction.

“I just had new windows installed and now, after all the pounding from the construction they no longer seal up” shared Victoria Thomas, who now lives in the morning shadow of the plant.

Last month, on January 30, 2020, at a meeting on the Community Benefits Ordinance hosted by the Legislative Policy Division (LPD), residents from the street closest to the project presented a list of demands. The “Just Beniteau Residents” demands call on the city and FCA to do what it will take to make residents homes safe to breathe and live in and to address the extensive damage being done to homes during construction.

“This process has been nothing but legal trickery used by people who think we can be walked over and dismissed” said Robert Shobe who has lived on the street for 24 years and wants to stay. He and other Beniteau residents demanded a meeting with Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. “The Mayor made us feel as though we didn’t matter and didn’t hear us or our legitimate concerns. We appreciate artists supporting us in the fight to be heard by the Mayor and FCA and for this to be made right.”


Just Beniteau Residents Statement and Demands

Detroit People’s Platform supports the hard work of the Just Beniteau Residents. The group has been meeting frequently since last year to address their unanswered concerns and demands around the public funded Fiat Chrysler expansion.

Many of the residents in the group have lived there since the 1960s. Some are third generation residents. Some have lived there their whole life. They all have a real love for their homes and incredible love for their community. They have been disrespected and dismissed by Mayor Duggan and Fiat Chrysler. 

On January 30, 2020 residents presented these demands through public comment at a meeting hosted by the Legislative Policy Division(LPD) on amendments to the Community Benefits Ordinance. 

‘Just Beniteau Residents’
Statement and Demands, January 28, 2020

The Just Beniteau Residents group represents the majority of people who live on our street. We believe that Beniteau Residents have been violated by the City and Fiat Chrysler through the Community Benefits process.

The Neighborhood Advisory Council did not represent us or respond to our needs. To many of us they seemed to just take what was offered and said it was what we wanted. No one seems to know how they decided on $15,000 a house.

The projects impact on our health and quality of life were not given priority. Even though the city has, and had at the time, a program for Southwest Detroit to fix up homes to make them safe to live in, none of this information was presented to us.

It’s worse than they said it would be and getting even worse every day. Our foundations are being further damaged by the vibrations from construction and increased truck traffic. Windows that were solid before construction are now damaged and won’t seal. The dust is horrible and all this before the new paint plant is putting out increased pollution. It’s bad and these are the things we want to make this right:

We need More Money for Repair or Relocation. $15,000 is not enough to make the repairs to our homes that are needed to make them safe. We want our foundations repaired, new roofs and windows, central air and furnaces, all certified for air quality. There are a few who would consider relocation, if provided enough money to do so successfully, but the great majority of us want to stay.

We want the program expanded to reflect number of units in multifamily buildings. There are multi-family structures, duplexes, on the street and we want resources for repairs in each unit.

We want to be treated with respect. In the past, people in our area have been bought out and relocated respectfully. We have not been heard and the city and FCA have disrespected us by disregarding our legitimate concerns, saying their hands are tied while giving more tax incentives to Chrysler and others.

We want the city and FCA to Fix Beniteau First! Before this flawed home repair program is opened up to the residents in the rest of the impact area the residents on Beniteau need this to be fixed and made right by the city and Fiat Chrysler.

For Beniteau residents this process has been nothing but legal trickery used by people who think we can be walked over and dismissed. The Fiat Chrysler Community Benefits ­not benefiting in any way. Just Beniteau Residents demand that Detroit City Council work to change this for us and to stop this from happening to other Detroiters.



Call to Action: Community Benefits Attend Detroit City Council meeting on Jan 30!

January 21, 2020

Call to Action: Demand City Council support the Equitable Detroit Coalition and Detroit People’s Platform “Must Have” Amendments for REAL Community Benefits!


Join Us! Thursday, January 30 at 6 PM

IBEW Hall, 1358 Abbot St., Detroit 48226

Hosted by Detroit City Council Legislative Policy Division


Since Bankruptcy and Emergency Management the City of Detroit has facilitated the transfer of over $1 BILLION in public funds to private economic development projects. The movement for a Community Benefits Ordinance (CBO) emerged as a grassroot response to interrupt extraction of public wealth and resources and the negative consequences for Detroit neighborhoods. 


In 2017Equitable Detroit Coalition (EDC), the citywide CBA coalition along with Detroit People’s Platform (DPP) began monitoring the newly passed Community Benefit Ordinance (CBO) which applies to large scale development. Voted in by a narrow majority in the 2016 general election, Proposal B represented an austere version of the more progressive community benefit ordinance (Proposal A) put forth by EDC and DPP voted on by nearly 100k Detroiters.


In 2018,EDC and DPP issued a report calling for major revisions to the current ordinance. The amendments brought forth are more aligned with the spirit and intent of a genuine community benefits ordinance where residents have voice and power in negotiating agreements that represent neighborhood priorities. In response to community pressure, 2019 saw Detroit City Council proposed 17 amendments to the CBO and invited community feedback.


On January 30, 2020, Detroiters will have an opportunity to offer recommendations for the proposed CBO amendments at a stakeholder meeting hosted by Detroit City Council’s Legislative Policy Division. We invite Detroiters to organize with us and demand change by endorsing the EQUITABLE DETROIT COALITION’S AND DETROIT PEOPLE’S PLATFORM “MUST HAVE” AMENDMENTS.


Detroit City Council is seeking resident feedback on 17 proposed changes to the CBO.

READ the proposed amendments and EDC’s recommendations:

Equitable Detroit Coalition and Detroit People’s Platform support 7 of these as MUST HAVE Amendments.

EDC’s and DPP’s
MUST HAVE Amendments at a glance:

YES   1. Lowering the threshold to $50 Million

YES   2. Neighborhood Advisory Council Chair to Enforcement Committee

YES   3. Lowering Tier 2 Development Project threshold to $300,000

YES   4. Increase the number of meetings

YES   5. Expand Notification to Project Impact Area

YES   12. Essential Documents to Neighborhood Advisory Council within 72 hrs

YES    15. Enforcement Mechanisms, including but not limited to Clawbacks

Above and beyond the changes being considered, EDC and DPP are calling for these MUST HAVE “NEW” CBO Amendments:

  1. Restructure the Neighborhood Advisory Council!
    Under the current ordinance, City officials select 7 of the 9 NAC members. The City’s power in selecting the majority of NAC members restricts authentic community engagement and community empowerment in the development process. EDC and DPP recommends expanding the NAC to consist of 15 members; 7 Community Members selected by residents of the Impact Area, who select 6 Issues Members representing: Education; Local Business; Faith Based/Community Ministries; Local nonprofits and neighborhood groups; Senior Residents; Youth Resident Panel (aged 13-18); and Two Labor Union Members, one from the Building Trades and one from Service Unions. EDC/DPP also recommends that NAC members must have a minimum of 5 years residency in the impact area.
  2. Increase Transparency – No Conflict of Interest/Effort!
    Currently the ordinance does not require members of the NAC to reveal potential conflicts of interest Recent NACs have included board members of Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC), active city employees and individuals with close ties to the project developer. These power relationships tend to crowd out the voice of everyday residents.

What’s Conflict of Interest? Those individuals nominated for NAC membership  who have competing affiliations or interest that may result in the perception or the reality of an increased risk of bias of judgment in upholding the NAC member responsibility to prioritize the interest of community residents over the interest of city officials, developers, and others who stand to gain material benefit or influence should be restricted from serving on the NAC.

What’s Conflict of Effort?A situation where demands from separate entities jeopardize the duties and responsibilities associated with one or more of those entities:  i.e. outside consulting activities interfering with duties of one’s primary employment

  1. Assess the Project’s Impact on Quality of Life!
    As part of the CBO process, developers must complete an equitable development score card that details relevant assessments including but not limited to health, social and environmental impacts on residents who live in the impact area and nearby neighborhoods.
  1. Require Creation of a Legally Binding Community Benefit Agreement!
    Under the current ordinance, the CBO process many be finalized without the creation of a legally binding community benefits agreement. The CBO Process should not be permitted to close until a legally binding agreement is negotiated between the NAC and Developer.

Equitable Detroit Coalition and Detroit People’s Platform
(313) 338-9396

City Council Blight Bond Meeting, Monday Nov. 18

Last Tuesday, November 12, 2019 Detroit City Council pushed back a vote on the Blight Bond and set a Committee of the Whole meeting on the bond. 

Read More: 

What is the Blight Bond?

Bankole: Council should stand up to mayor, reject bond
Detroit City Council postpones $250M bond vote, citing serious concerns
Duggan’s Blight Bond Actually Would Raise Detroit Taxes, ‘In A Sense’
Eggs, Biscuits And Blight: Duggan ‘Crosses Line’ In Detroit Bond Push


  • Fill out the Legislative Engagement Form and document your comments on the Blight Bond. 
  • Continue to contact City Council Members and share your comments on the Blight Bond.
  • Share this and other information about the Blight Bond with your friends, family and neighbors.
  • If possible, attend Monday evening’s City Council Committee of the Whole meeting on the 250 Million Blight. Bond. The meeting will be on the 13th Floor of CAYMC, 5 – 8 pm in the Erma Henderson Auditorium. 

Detroit City Council could vote to move the Blight Bond to the March 2020 ballot on Tuesday, Nov.19 2019 at their regular Committee of the Whole meeting, 10 a.m.

What is the Blight Bond?

Note: City Council is expected to vote on this issue Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019. Today is a holiday, please make a call, email or tweet Council Members so they receive your message before tmrw’s 10 am session. Thank you!

What is the Blight Bond?

Detroit City Council has been asked by the administration to vote to place a $250 Million Bond on the ballot in March 2020.

What is a Municipal Bond?
A municipal bond is a way that city’s pay for important things that improve our community like schools, roads and public transit. These are investments that need to be paid back and that payback includes interest.

How does the city pay back the investment? Typically these investments are paid back by the city through a millage. A millage is a tax rate on the value of property.

Detroit People’s Platform encourage members and supporters to contact their council representatives and demand that they vote “No” on placing the bond on the ballot. Why?

The bond is for $250 million but the interest on the loan may be up to $170 million. The total cost will be up to $420 million!

Detroiters don’t need more debt!

Banks and property speculators who have created the blight through neglect but typically receive a pass should be made to pay instead of Detroiters.

This tax will disproportionately impact Detroit home owners and they will feel the brunt of this increase.

Take Action!
Contact City Council and demand they protect Detroiters from another mortgage on our city’s future.

Detroit City Council Contact Information

Brenda Jones, Council President, At-Large
313-224-1245 – @DetCouncilPres

Janeé L Ayers, At-Large
313-224-1027 – @Ayers4Detroit

James Tate, District 1
313-224-1027 – @CouncilmanTate

Roy McCalister Jr., District 2
313-224-4535 – @RoyMcCalisterJr

Scott Benson, District 3
313-224-1198 – @Scottinthe3rd

André Spivey, District 4
313-224-4505 – @AndreLSpivey

Mary Sheffield, President Pro Temp, District 5
313-224-4505 – @MsMarySheffield

Raquel Casteñeda-Lopez, District 6
313-224-2450 – @Raquel4Detroit

Gabe Leland, District 7
313-224-2151 – @GabeLeland

Fiat Chrysler Call to Action – Contact Michigan Dept. EGLE

Call to Action: 
Detroit People’s Platform Members and Supporters

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) must take action to protect Detroit residents. 

For the last month Eastside residents collected nearly 1,000 signatures on an Air Quality petition with recommendations for the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE). EGLE will be considering Fiat Chrysler’s Environmental Community Benefits Plan for their new assembly line and paint plant.

The People’s Air Quality Petition recommends: 
✅ $12.5 M into the public health fund
✅ air monitors @ schools, senior bldgs, Head Starts
✅ air filtration @ schools, senior bldgs, Head Starts
✅ vegetative buffers designed with experts
✅ truck routing based on residents’ input 
✅ regular community mtgs
Since Chrysler will receive up to $400 million dollars in public tax support, we believe this is the least of what they owe our community.  Black residents should not be forced to choose between their health and possible jobs. Due to the fact that Fiat Chrysler is decreasing pollution in Warren so that they can increase it in our back yards. EGLE has required that Fiat Chrysler create this plan for additional monitoring and community benefits. 

Fiat Chrysler has not been open or transparent with their environmental plan.  They have been selective about who they talk with in the community and they have been disrespectful to those who express the legitimate need for additional protections.

Residents deserve to be protected by our government – We call on EGLE to require FCA produce an environmental community benefit plan that includes state of the art air quality filters and monitoring systems placed throughout the impact areas.

We are asking you to make a phone call to EGLE. Ask them to share Fiat Chrysler’s Environmental Benefits Plan with the community once they receive it and for EGLE to conduct a public hearing or public comment process on the FCA environmental benefit plan before EGLE approves the plan. 
Take Action
Call EGLE Director Liesl Eichler Clark

  1. Demand that EGLE release the FCA Environmental Plan to the community when it is submitted for approval and
  2. Demand a public hearing or comment process before approving the plan.

Liesl Eichler Clark
EGLE Director

Thank you 

Important Points:   

Detroit and all of Wayne County are currently out of federal compliance with sulfur dioxide and ozone standards. The Fiat Chrysler assembly line and paint plant will increase VOC emissions which contribute to respiratory and other health issues. 

The immediate area surrounding the plant is 94% Black. FCA will be “offsetting” increased emissions in the “impact area” by reducing emissions from a plant in Warren, a predominantly white suburb. This is textbook environmental racism.

7.3% of annual deaths in Wayne County are due to criteria pollutants and air toxics. 11.3% of our children countywide have asthma, and the numbers are worse in our most polluted neighborhoods near heavy industry. The Zip Codes in the FCA impact have some of the highest Asthma hospitalization rates in the city.   


Press Coverage:

Fiat Chrysler (FCA) Community Benefits Agreement


Community Benefits Agreement Outcomes:
The CBA includes $5.8 million for Workforce Education, $1.8 million for Housing, $1.1 million in an Impact Neighborhood Fund and $0.1 million for Construction Impacts totaling only $8.8 million from FCA.

The most recent dollar amount of public funding and tax incentives that have been request by FCA are now up to $400 million.

Conclusion: The Fiat Chrysler Community Benefits Agreement and the process through which it was created were monumental failures.


The points below are not exhaustive but highlight and explain the strong dissent and disdain over this deal.

$8.8 Million is not enough Fiat Chrysler is a global corporation that earned $4.1 billion in 2018. Taxpayers have historically invested in FCA through multiple bailouts; one in which citizen lost $1.3 billion. Offering only $8.8 million dollars in community benefits from projects that will use up to $400 million in public investment is shameful. It is economic injustice. 

Environmental Racism We are in what the Environmental Protection Agency calls a “non-attainment” area for certain pollutants. That means our air is so toxic that FCA has to reduce emissions elsewhere to increase them here. FCA will be increasing emissions in our 94% black community with high poverty and asthma rates while reducing emissions from a suburban plant in Warren.

Lack of Time, Transparency + Respect 
While the process replicated some aspects of previous CBO projects, the city was more heavy-handed in this deal. There was a greater presence of white residents in the Ford NAC than the FCA NAC, which was predominantly black. The Ford NAC was given greater self-determination and consideration than the FCA NAC.The FCA CBA process lasted only 7 weeks while the Ford CBA took 10. Multiple times in the process FCA threatened they would take the project elsewhere.

Land Swaps The FCA project’s associated land “swaps”, like the full extent of public investment, were not revealed until after the NAC signed off on the deal. In addition to the land, the city sold a downtown parking garage to cover costs. The full value of the land swaps  connected to the deal is unknown. The transfer of land without community input is unacceptable.* 

30-year Tax Capture From Schools + The FCA expansion takes advantage of Michigan’s Brownfield Redevelopment Financing Act that was lobbied for by Dan Gilbert and utilized on the Hudson’s site. After completion of the project FCA will pay themselves back for the cost of redeveloping the site by pocketing $93 Million from their employees’ paychecks over 30 years. $34 Million of that would have gone to school funding*. * 

Due to the failures of Fiat Chrysler CBA we encourage residents to take a stand around the additional environmental community benefits included in Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) permitting process.