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Politics & Government

On Memorial Day in Detroit, a "funeral for democracy"

Sarah Cwiek
Michigan Radio

Some voting rights advocates say Michigan’s emergency manager law represents “the death of democracy” in the state.

So they symbolically laid democracy to rest at mock a funeral service in Detroit Monday.

The “funeral” included music and eulogies of sorts--all delivered from behind an American flag-draped coffin. A real hearse waited outside to take the coffin away.

Some might see this kind of display as a bit much. But organizers insist it’s totally appropriate, given what they see as a relentless assault on voting rights in Michigan.

Reverend D. Alexander Bullock is with the Rainbow-Push Coalition in Detroit. He says this event “memorializing” democracy on Memorial Day was meant to grab people’s attention.

“The symbolism, I think, makes sense,” Bullock said. “Especially in light of what today means.”

Bullock and others are upset about Michigan’s emergency manager law, which they say is an unconstitutional “suspension” of voting rights in places where it’s used.

They also warn that pending legislation—supposedly to tighten up the electoral process and prevent fraud—is a thinly-veiled attack on voting rights.

“Here in Michigan we have a Governor who has enacted a policy—Public Act 4--that suspends the right to vote. And we have a legislature that is going to enact laws that are going to suppress the right to vote,” Bullock said. “So we are here symbolically putting democracy in the grave.”

Bullock says that proposed legislation would seriously restrict voter registration drives, allow many more challenged ballots, and introduce ID requirements that could turn people away from the polls.

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