Michigan National Guard deployed to deliver free food in Detroit, then pulled

Posted at 6:10 PM, Apr 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-16 19:48:50-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — Starting today, thousands of Detroiters are getting much needed free meals and food through several churches.

There were long lines of cars in two locations today as people are still facing delays in getting unemployment, getting federal payments.

Some 10,000 meals and boxes of food have been provided to the churches from Forgotten Harvest and the World Central Kitchen.

Members of the Michigan National Guard were deployed to the King Solomon Baptist Church yesterday to help unload the bulk food from the food kitchens. They were replaced today by Detroit Public Works employees.

Pastor Charles Williams says he wasn’t told why when he got a call last night.

Rev. Horace Sheffield tells 7 Action News that he was told it is because the Guard has a stigma going back to breaking up the 1967 Detroit race riots.

Sheffield later issues a follow up statement:

This morning, I mistakenly voiced some concerns to a TV reporter without having all the facts surrounding a situation about delivering much needed food to our community.

Based on late evening conversations Rev. Charles Williams, I came to believe that Rev. Williams would be left to distribute 10,000 meals without the help of Michigan National Guard as he stated was promised to him. Consequently, during an interview this morning I simply gave voice to his frustration and merely echoed his call, a decision I regret.

Since then I, after reviewing the situation in totality, and some conversations with Rev. Williams and others, I have come to this clear conclusion, that the mayor of the city of Detroit should have been consulted and we should have discussed this with him and his administration before making comment.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan says guard troops helped set up the field hospital at the TCF Center downtown. And people do still have issues with the guard’s role in the riots. But he says he coordinated with the governor and said he could supply the needed help to distribute the food.

The food will be available from Monday through Saturday during the health and economic crisis.

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