Tuesday, December 23, 2014



DECEMBER 22, 2014 -DETROIT - Last night four teens from affluent Grosse Pointe "wandered or deliberately" ventured among a war zone I heard labeled as little Beirut, then Benton Harbor, Baghdad and my image of rural Ukraine.

At approximately 9 PM on Saturday night the teens stopped on an undesirable street name of Philip. This area may be described as the most horrendous of their sixteen (16) years.

One may attempt to visualize an image of a radio blaring Kayne West and taking precaution so not to be seen smoking marijuana in the stopped car. They may have believed that during one of the shortest days of the year, the cover of clouds and through a night eerily total black. Need I remind the reader, these are the babies of parents who will suffer a series of nightmares every night through the Joy of Christmas, but reminded every single day in the New Year. I believe there is little doubt they are gathered and spending this day in prayer. As fellow citizens, of any race and religion We too should keep them in thoughts and prayer throughout Christmas.

Early Sunday morning, the details came in bits and pieces over local WDIV-TV. They came at best as sketchy. A single survivor, whose original location is unclear, most likely stood in horror at some distance as he witnessed the slaughter in disbelief. I speculate once the assailant left the scene, he jumped in the vans and drove his friends the relatively short distance to Beaumont (Bon Secours Hospital in Grosse Pointe.

What we know at this time is something out of a "slasher" movie. The survivor related how, in complete darkness, a black male dressed in military fatigues, a bullet-proof vest and armed with an AK-47, emerged from either trees or the cover of night. He seemed to appeared out of no where and opened fire on the vehicle. Four teens were shot, one dead and the others critically injured, hospitalized. The "survivor teen escaped without injury.  and I assume drove the vehicle to Bon Secours Hospital.

Can one possibly imagine the horror of the teens' families now face as a result of this morbid crime and the senseless death of a child? What "stages of grief" will linger through five (5) steps only to  repeat. I am sure I could not. This is not to mean that black children, everyday are at risk. What of the eleven (11) year old, grabbed at gunpoint and raped. Or, the two-year old shot through the head in a drive-by?

However, I believe I can offer background information, speak from professional experience in one sense while expressing a "developed sensitivity and compassion" my "targeted public services over 33 years with DHS, FIA and DSS. Or okay, Welfare. My assigned field area included the small area bordered by E. Jefferson to the South, North a few blocks to Charlevoix and Alter Road to the East, A line of demarcation was dubiously drawn to discourage blacks and Mexicans to pass Alter Road mistakenly headed to plush retail shops along Kercheval. For those who may not be aware, this is the Rodeo Drive, Miracle Mile of Grosse Pointe.

The map depicted or linked here is a bird's eye view of the immediate crime scene. 

SE DETROIT Border Grosse Pointe Park

Should you follow the Bing link to an aerial view, please note what is truly amazing to me as a native Detroiter who worked in these neighborhoods. Philip as well as Manistique, Chalmers were once lined with hundreds of two-family flats. There was literally no space in between, even driveways. A garage, if one faced the alley for egress to and from.

It is just one of hundreds of blue collar neighborhoods that grew out of the migration of southerners from Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi and other including Mexico during the Depression.

Important History

As Pearl Harbor launched America's entry into World War II, the Detroit became the greatest manufacturing center in the USA. One result of the rise of the auto industry, the innovation of the assembly line and a boundless supply of labor from the South, an entire army of women became line workers, riveters and of all things test pilots and delivered the B-52 bombers East eventually destroying Nazi Germany and their Hitler collaborators. 

Most of this story of Detroit and the label the City earned, "The Arsenal of Democracy." Tom Brokaw wrote in "The Greatest Generation" that without the extraordinary effort of a diverse Detroit, the Allies may have not won World War II. (I mention this for the post 911 coming of age as these facts and heroics are not included in their textbooks).

Over more than just a few decades, ordinary neighborhoods dissolved as some of the best, hard working families fled to any suburb north of Eminen's Eight Mile Road. These neighborhoods were constructed over the past century. They took upon an aura as safe where children walked to their school and curfew is when the streetlights come on. 

This is Detroit. This is the City that public officials and the media recently reported how Detroit is now emerging from bankruptcy. However, what is not known to many across the nation is that since the 2008 housing fiasco, personal bankruptcy, unemployment and two economies began a purge of citizens from their homes. Those who could, moved. Many of the elderly and working poor families became caught in an underground war as well as one surrounding them in their beloved neighborhoods.

Out of the morass, Detroit's Depression began in 2008, two economies emerged. One, known to bankers, lawyers, title companies and public officials. There is huge profit in predatory lending and illegal foreclosures.  However, the "alternative" economy operates openly and transparent, unlike the former. It is no surprise dealing illegal drugs has been prosperous for decades. Today, it would top the Dow Jones. As cocaine and designer drugs and those not as glittery (crack), began to dry up, the market for prescription drugs soared. Every junkie and dealer gravitated to gather up legally written Rx from elderly parents and other vulnerable adults. The prize, Vicodin and other pain killers.

The dealers began to  stabilize income and profit through the emerging new drug of choice. It remains an illegal economy sometimes mirroring big banks that are more transparent than the mortgage industry. Many Police precincts knew of their existence. Some operated with blocks of their watch. When local WDIV-TV investigated and exposed the proliferation of drug sales on Henry Street directly in the sight of Detroit's Cass Technical High School, a perennial school of high standards. 

Addicts flocked from the suburbs and those relegated to the city and heroin as yet on hiatus , turned to the entrepreneurial best practice innovated by previous working citizens. Dealers and addicts may not be familiar with a best practice but discovered that adapting tactics known. free countries. Where income, individual need (fix) and market ripe, they came to discover "that Necessity is the Mother of All Invention!"                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           There are service stations and party stores almost anywhere off the main arteries that will pay 25 - 50% to users now shoplifters for cartons of cigarettes, Red Bull, i-Pads purchased through "Debit Cards" obtained fraudulently and felons. How? They entered retailers with W. Michigan ties and used express checkout lines to make purchases they kept below $500.00. They followed up by selling the same debit cards to other greedy culprits who, can you believe racked up $796.00 in gasoline purchases.

The Detroit Police Department is decimated with layoffs, retirees and transfer to suburban communities. The loss in numbers, shaken by needless deaths on patrol the resolve began to fade. Response time to crimes in progress slips to unprecedented, sometimes disastrous levels. Police may arrive too late to intervene. They increasingly become statistic "reporters" on the scene compiling crime statistics for the FBI.

The desolate area of Southeast Detroit is one of the multiple neighborhoods without basic services, adequate police protection, "neighborhood watch" (as there are few neighbors to watch) over vast acres of land left in total darkness. They are void of the normal "landmarks" drivers used as guides. Street signs are either reversed if they exist at all. 

The worst problem is the lack of lighting. It is one of  the scariest experiences if you drive in total  darkness of the night. The absence of this basic security is found in any city across America. Imagine walking nearly blind in your neighborhood on a November evening along your neighborhood with areas you no longer recognize and in the dark. Imagine driving in your automobile along stretches of freeways in darkness where you are tempted to switch to high beam. 

Could, these shooting victims avoided this monstrous act? Perhaps. 

Would the legalization of marijuana laws altered the teens choice to "burn one" out of sight?

Had the biased Governor Snyder and conservative State Legislature stepped up years ago and made "street lighting" in the City if Detroit as top of the list of priorities?  It is one goal to secure and promote the health and safety of all citizens.  

Would  Legislature resolve, act to avoid abhorrent crime in Detroit and keep the oath sworn to uphold? In spite of what citizens across Michigan may believe or legislators scorn the City of Detroit, it is time for self-examination and discover if institutional racism is within their soul and how the influence of mega corporations perpetuates their own brand of racist practice.

I believe All of above is True. What do you think Rep Sander Levin and Sen Debbie Stabenow?