To the west of Cass Corridor on 2nd Avenue, there is a four-story walk-up brick apartment building that has been beautifully restored and renovated – mostly. “It’s not completely handicap accessible yet,” says Baxter Jones. He takes a sip of coffee and looks out the window as he buzzes visitors up the stairs to the first floor. Baxter, a former P.E. teacher and track coach at Fisher Magnet Middle School on the East Side of Detroit, has been in a wheelchair since a 2005 car accident left him with a severe spinal chord injury. He moved in here almost a year ago, after a three-year losing battle to keep his house following the loss of his job. On the mantle behind him, there is a faded photo of a young man at bat. Beside it are the 10 Commandments. In the hearth below, a piece of driftwood and a sign that says “Jones’ Retreat” are all that Baxter has left of his dream home near a lake. “The way that I got involved as an activist in the first place is that I was facing problems myself,” says Baxter, who is a member of the Eviction Defense Committee of Occupy Detroit. Most recently, he was one of 19 people who were arrested for civil disobedience when they blocked Homrich’s trucks from leaving to perform water shut-offs in July. “We are their worst nightmare right now. Shining a light on what they were doing,” says Baxter, who thinks that most people just don’t understand what’s really going on. “My hope is that people will begin to feel more neighborly and kind to one another, sympathetic to one another, love one another.” In the meantime, he plans to keep advocating for water as a basic human right. He understands that there are costs involved with cleaning and dispensing water, but he firmly believes there should be a way to incur those costs without taking away access from those who have no resources. “At some point, the money aspect has got to be less important than the access,” he says.

More Voices from Detroit

Detroit Water Shut off Life Without Water Voices from Detroit Circle of Blue J. Carl Ganter Todd Zawistowski
Detroit Water Shut off Valerie Jean North End Community Leader Circle of Blue Todd Zawistowski
Detroit Water Shut off Isabella Valerie Jean North End Detroit Circle of Blue J. Carl Ganter water delivery
Detroit Water Shut off DeMeeko Williams Detroit Water Brigade emergency relief DWB Circle of Blue Todd Zawistowski
Reverend Bill Wylie-Kellerman St. Peter's Episcopal Church Detroit Water Shut off The People's Water Board
William Copeland Will See Hip Hop Music Artist EMEAC East Michigan Environmental Action Coalition Detroit Water Shut off Water Warrior