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DTE Energy Shareholders meeting disrupted, hundreds protest company

Company has forgotten 99 percent, needs to pay fair share by creating jobs, building community

DETROIT, MI - Calling on DTE Energy to pay its fair share of taxes, more than 800 people protested in front of the company’s Downtown Detroit headquarters Thursday as the utility hosted its shareholders meeting.

Shouting, “PAY YOUR FAIR SHARE! PAY YOUR FAIR SHARE!” members of Good Jobs Now along with other Detroit residents began their protest shortly after 8:30 a.m. by marching down Bagley to Third Street, where dozens of Detroit Police officers blared sirens to usher them off the street and onto the sidewalk. The protest lasted some three hours.

Pastor W.J. Rideout III, a DTE Shareholder, was among two dozen shareholders who were escorted out of the DTE shareholders meeting, after he posed a question about DTE and its fair share.

“I asked Gerard Anderson,” –the president and CEO of DTE – “how much do you pay in taxes and why are you spending all this money on lobbyists and not putting the money back into the community and the state to help our schools, help fight crime. He said, ‘security, please escort this man out.’”

Two dozen protesters who were in the meeting then stood and began shouting, “Pay Your Fair Share!” and were also asked to leave.

Thursday’s protest was the fifth against DTE in four months pointing up how the company posted nine-digit profits, pays its executives and lobbyists at high rates all the while ignoring those struggling to pay their bills and failing to reinvest in the community. In 2010, the company had a $640million profit and a $172 million tax refund (a negative 27 percent tax rate). In 2011, the company posted a $720 million profit, a 13 percent increase from the previous year.

The group protested in pursuit of specific demands from DTE:

• Create a Community Jobs Fund of $ 25 million for Detroit Residents that would provide jobs and job training;
• Stop lobbying elected officials to cut business and corporate taxes and instead use that money to expand the Summer Youth Employment Program to include more months of employment and the number of youth involved;
• Increase funding for the THAW assistance program to $10 million and broaden eligibility requirements to help Detroit families keep their homes safe and their power on.
"DTE needs to pay its fair share,” said Manila Freeman, a 60-year-old retired Detroit Public School Teacher who was part of Thursday’s protest. “They should reinvest in our community with the profits they have. They need to stop paying elected officials to cut taxes."



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