Statement by Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony, President, Detroit Branch NAACP
The great blues singer B.B. King made a song called “Never Make Your Move Too Soon.” The same can be said of opening up the state of Michigan to business as usual during this COVID-19 pandemic. There is still not enough testing and not enough access to healthcare for all Michiganders. This is particularly true in the city of Detroit among the African American community. To open up before the state is ready would be disastrous. It would set back the current progress that is being made to fight this disease. We need more tests, greater access to healthcare throughout the community, more PPE for healthcare workers, and a government that is committed to ending the socio-economic and racial disparities existing in Detroit and other urban areas. We must listen to the wisdom of the scientists and healthcare providers working for our protection. We must not be seduced by the political sirens working for their re-election. African Americans are not very anxious to open up a process that simply leads us right back to the same old mess.
The real issue is not blocking the streets so traffic cannot drive through or shutting down a hospital that the sick are unable to get to. Pulling political stunts such as surrounding the capitol with cars and trucks, carrying handguns, rifles AR 14.5 or 15, wearing MAGA hats, waving both the American and Confederate flags, and carrying Trump signs for President doesn’t seem like opening the government up. It is more like shutting the government down. No, this was not done in a neighborhood in Detroit. This was done in Lansing on the steps of the capitol. It does not appear that anyone was arrested, taken to jail, or cited for assembling more than 10, 50, or even 100 people. One might ask, what’s up with that? Perhaps this is a place where the National Guard can best be utilized. They could help to make the way clear for healthcare workers to do their job, aiding those that are sick to get much needed care. We certainly want to open up and enjoy a good quality of life. As a minister, I want to open up my church and feed my flock, but not in a pasture that might choke them to death. We must not make our move too soon. We must get this thing right because death is still lurking in the shadows in the event we get it wrong.