Despite cold temperatures and a steady drizzle, dozens of people showed up in Farmington Hills Tuesday to protest cuts to emergency services, education and veteran services in the federal and state budgets.
Those in attendance were part of the "Defend the American Dream" movement, organized by Moveon.org, a non-profit progressive/liberal advocacy group.
The local event, held in front of the at Grand River and Middlebelt, is one of 270 across the country; another will be held Wednesday at the State Capitol in Lansing, he said.
"Right now Congress is poised to strike a horrible deal on the federal budget," said Carlos Whitmore, a Farmington Hills resident. "We want to make it clear, particularly to our counterparts in Lansing, that by supporting the Republicans' dangerous budget proposals, they are launching an assualt on families of Michigan and the American dream, and destroying jobs."
Organizers said just six of the 69 people who signed up to protest did not show, despite the cold weather and rain.
Protestors lined up along the sidewalk on Grand River often pumped their umbrellas when passing cars honked. Those who attended ranged in age from retirees to young children.
Paul Pardee and his daughter, Sheri, both of Farmington Hills, came out because they're both concerned about the power held by billionaires like the Koch brothers, owners of Koch Refining, a multi-billion dollar energy congolmorate.
"The only equalizer we have is, there's only one vote per person," Paul Pardee said. "Our only hope is to make sure in every election we get out and use our vote. I think a lot of people didn't do that in the last election, and that's why we're in the situation we're in now."
Kurt Riebling of Redford, who joined the Pardees, attended for a simple reason: "So the little guys don't get screwed," he said.
Kelli Carpenter-Crawford of Farmington Hills brought her children Maddy, 10 and Nathan, 5 to the event, with signs that urged support for schools, public health and safety. She said the family came out because of concerns over "the things that matter in our community."
"I'm here to support education," Maddi said. This was her first protest rally, and despite the weather, she said, "It's cool."
Mark Traficant of Redford said he attended because "I despise greed and selfishness, and unfortunately, many people have been convinced to vote against their own self-interests." He said he worked more than a decade for Ford Motor Company and in company management. He stepped down "because ethics and compassion for my fellow man was more important to me."
"The profit motive doesn't serve people," he said.
Bruce Carr of Farmington Hills is a retired Detroit Public Schools teacher. He said cuts to education proposed by Gov. Rick Snyder will nearly double class sizes in Michigan.
"I had 35 students in a class when I was teaching," he said. "There's no way we could have put that many in a classroom, there wasn't the space."