'Hulk Mad!' Actor Mark Ruffalo Protests In Detroit

Dawn Papple

Actor Mark Ruffalo, who Avengers fans know better as the Hulk, was in Detroit Friday morning joining National Nurses United and other protesters at the Detroit Cobo Center. Ruffalo reportedly was on stage asking protesters to march with him to demand that Detroit alter its water shutoff policies.

"I'm here to shed a little light on what's happening -- the travesty that's happening here in Detroit with these people's water," Ruffalo told WWJ Newsradio. "It's an absolute travesty; you'd think we were living in a third world nation."

Mark Ruffalo added, "We're happy to send money all over the world to help other people in their crisis, and we can't take care of our own people; and the American people have got to know that this is wrong, and that it's happening here and that it should be stopped."

— NationalNursesUnited (@NationalNurses) July 18, 2014

Despite protests, Detroit's Department of Water spokesman Greg Eno told The Associated Press that there are no plans to stop the shutoffs. Eno says that if an account is 60 days past due, the water will be shut off unless a financial crisis makes paying for the water impossible. Approximately 17,000 customers are on payment plans according to Detroit's city-owned utility. Eno claims that Detroit tries to work with those customers. Still, as of July, approximately 90,000 active customers alone are behind on the water bills. The United Nations has said that water shutoffs for delinquent accounts are "only permissible if it can be shown that the resident is able to pay but is not paying."

Mark Ruffalo backs the United Nations' belief that water shutoffs due to nonpayment are a violation of the UN's international human rights policies.

Bill Johnson, a Detroit utility spokesperson, told the media that in Detroit water service has not been shut off if the resident has a "legitimate problem" in paying their bill. Mark Ruffalo helped to lead the protesters that claim that it's not easy for the extremely vulnerable to get into contact with Detroit officials to prove their legitimate need. Johnson admitted that a deed is needed to get water turned back on once it has been turned off. The requirement of the deed is in an attempt to prevent "squatters" from getting water turned back on at a residence.

— Mark Ruffalo (@MarkRuffalo) July 18, 2014

National Nurses United's co-president Jean Ross called Detroit's shutoffs "inhumane" and the group was pleased to have Mark Ruffalo there to help get the word out to the nation over what is being called a public health emergency.

Detroit residents saw almost a 9 percent increase in water costs due to all of the delinquent accounts. The monthly water rate is about $60, and once a resident owes more than $150 and the account is past due, the publicly owned service is turned off. According to MLive, Detroit launched an aid program to assist Detroit's low income residents. Only 400 qualifying applicants are participating in the program.

— Mark Ruffalo (@MarkRuffalo) July 18, 2014

— NationalNursesUnited (@NationalNurses) July 18, 2014

— Mark Ruffalo (@MarkRuffalo) July 18, 2014

— David Freddoso (@freddoso) July 18, 2014

[Photo via John Nichols on Twitter]