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Detroit Journalism Cooperative

Walter P. Reuther Library: Wayne State University.

 

For one hot week fifty years ago, Detroit burned.

Now, when most people think of the uprising, they picture the aftermath: burnt and abandoned buildings, looted businesses, a city in decline.

But the uprising was not a random event. Rather, it was the result of a city fraught with racial tension, population decline, and deindustrialization.

Lindsey Scullen / Michigan Radio

Monday night’s Issues & Ale event plunged back in time to the days surrounding the 1967 rebellion – the historic conflict between citizens and police that led to 43 deaths and thousands of buildings destroyed during five summer days in Detroit.

When Isaiah "Ike" McKinnon was 14, he made the decision to become a Detroit police officer. Two years after joining the department, he was thrust into the city's 1967 rebellion.
Lindsey Scullen / Michigan Radio

It was 1957 when 14-year-old Isaiah "Ike" McKinnon made the decision to become a Detroit police officer. It was a surprising decision given the beating he'd just suffered at the hands of the cops. But instead of turning against the police, McKinnon, who is African-American, decided to join them. 

The civil unrest began in the early hours of July 23, 1967 following a police raid on an unlicensed after-hours bar on the corner of 12th and Clairmount.
Public Domain / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

In 1967, a series of civil disturbances in cities across America rocked the country. The unrest, called a rebellion by some and a riot by others, made its way to the city of Detroit in July of that year. 

black and white photo of people rioting in downtown Detroit
Walter P. Reuther Library: Wayne State University

Describing events is tricky business. It’s something we do a lot in the news, and one word can completely change the tone of a story. 

Michigan Radio is marking the 50th anniversary of the unrest that happened in Detroit with a two-week series on "Morning Edition" and "Stateside." But what do we – and should we – call the events of 1967? And how do those choices affect our view of this important part of Michigan’s history?

A new study shows that as many as 85% of homes in Detroit might have been taxed at rates that violate the Michigan Constitution.
BasicGov / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The tax foreclosure crisis in Detroit may not get the attention it deserves. In fact, the tax foreclosure crisis didn’t just happen, and it doesn't continue to happen, by unfortunate circumstances. There are decisions behind it. One group says those decisions are illegal.

Keeria Myles sits on the front porch of her small white bungalow
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

 

Keeria Myles moved into a little white bungalow on Rosemont Ave. in Detroit last January. She had a furnace and water heater installed, and was starting to remodel the kitchen.

But then, she got a letter saying the house was in tax foreclosure and would be auctioned in September. Shortly after that, her water got shut off.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

One of the big issues in Detroit is blight. People walking away from their properties or foreclosures are the base of the problem. After that, it’s people stealing things out of the empty house.

Some neighborhoods have been devastated by abandoned homes and the scrappers who strip them. The MorningSide neighborhood on Detroit’s east side hasn’t hit the level of devastation, but it’s been hit pretty hard.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Detroit still has a reputation for being a high-crime city. However, like the rest of the nation, Detroit’s violent crime rate has been steadily declining since the late 1980s.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Detroit’s reputation as a high crime city has not gone away, but its crime rate is down substantially. It’s been falling since the 1980s. But there are areas of the city that are not as safe as others.

Detroit Neighborhood Police Officer (NPO) DeAndre Gaines at the Department’s Fifth Precinct picked me up for a ride-along in his patrol car. We headed to the MorningSide neighborhood on the city’s east side.

Mon, July 17, 2017; 6:30-8:00 PM
Northern Lights Lounge
660 W. Baltimore St
Detroit, MI 48202

Free Admission

Host: Lester Graham

This July marks the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Detroit uprising, a civil disturbance that turned into one of the deadliest and most destructive riots in the history of the United States. The uprising resulted in dozens of deaths, thousands arrested, and National Guard and U.S. Army units deployed to patrol the streets of Detroit.

A National Guardsman patrols a Detroit street during the July 1967 rebellion.
Tony Spina / Walter P. Reuther Library/Wayne State University

Fifty years ago next month, a police raid on a Detroit after-hours bar exploded into five days of violent unrest.

The city is still grappling with what happened in the summer of 1967.

Toxic Town: Michigan's most polluted zip code

Jun 19, 2017
Bill Kobuta

Usually, with a new playground, library or community center comes a dedication ceremony with speeches by local leaders. It might even make front page news.

But an air monitoring station? Yes, an air monitoring station installed in a part of Southwest Detroit is cause for celebration.

BRIDGE MAGAZINE: Detroit's Chaldean, Iraqi communities scramble to act following ICE detentions

Jun 19, 2017
Julia Kassem

On Monday, June 12, dozens gathered outside the Mother of God Chaldean Catholic Church in Southfield to protest a recent wave of ICE raids that targeted, captured and detained dozens of Iraqi Americans at multiple locations across Metro Detroit, including local churches, homes and even a hospital.

BRIDGE MAGAZINE: One envelope holds her fate. Is she getting deported?

May 30, 2017
Maria Juarez hugs mother-in-law.
Bridge Magazine

Maria Garcia Juarez wandered around the international arrivals area at Detroit Metropolitan Airport on Friday, frantically looking for a government official who held a sheet of paper with her fate written on it.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Update: 5/24/2017 The business, Hammer Time True Value Hardware, closed shortly after the interview with owner Bill Kamman. That leaves another substantial gap in the business district on E. Warren Avenue in the MorningSide neighborhood.

There are small business districts throughout Detroit that are barely hanging on. They were once thriving. But population loss and the loss of wealth in the neighborhoods have created hard times for neighborhood businesses. The question is: what to do with them now?

BRIDGE MAGAZINE: How to cash in on a crappy home. Step one: Find a sucker to sign a land contract.

May 18, 2017
Bridge photo by Joel Kurth

Denise Pope put a down payment on hope as much as a house.

Sure, the home wasn’t much: An 800-square-foot wood bungalow, barely big enough to contain her four children and husband. There were holes in the walls, probably from thieves getting to copper pipes. Like most empty Detroit homes, it lacked a furnace and water heater.

But it was in a good neighborhood, Rosedale Park, near a big playground. And the house came with a promise: Put $3,500 down, pay $500 per month plus $82 in taxes, and it would be hers in a little over two years.  

BRIDGE MAGAZINE: Mom has sick husband, baby – and looming deportation to ‘home’ she’s never known

May 11, 2017

Maria Garcia Juarez hasn’t been to Mexico since she was a baby.

She is now 23. But with wavy, long dark hair, big brown eyes and a petite, delicate stature, the Detroit wife and mother looks more like a teenager than the criminal the U.S. government considers her to be.

Interactive Map: Detroit water shutoffs by neighborhood

May 2, 2017
water faucet
Laura Nawrocik / Flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Last year, more than 27,000 Detroit homes had water shut off because of what the city says were unpaid bills. In some neighborhoods, 1-in-5 homes lost water access. To find your neighborhood, type in your Detroit address in the box in the upper right. When the map zooms in, click on the map for more information.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Detroit might be one of the largest socio-economic laboratories in the world. Billionaires are rehabbing iconic downtown buildings. The federal government is funding demolition of tens of thousands of abandoned houses. And private foundations are testing out all kinds of projects to see what might spark neighborhood revival.

Book cover: "The Intersection: What Detroit has gained, and lost, 50 years after the uprisings of 1967."
Courtesy of Lester Graham

 

This year marks 50 years since the 1967 uprising in Detroit. A new book reflects on what's happened since those hot, angry four days in July. 

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan speaking where he plans to build Ella Fitzgerald Park on the city's northwest side
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan says neighborhoods won't be left out of the city's comeback.

Duggan announced his two year plan to invest $4 million into the Fitzgerald neighborhood on the city's northwest side, near Livernois and McNichols.

The project aims to rehab 115 vacant homes and 192 vacant lots, create a two-acre park, and build a bike path between Marygrove College and the University of Detroit Mercy.

Maurice Cox, the planning director for the project, says the goal is to create something seldom seen in the city.

BRIDGE MAGAZINE: One promise Mike Duggan can’t keep?

Mar 30, 2017

Home sales with mortgages are rare in Detroit, occurring in just a few areas. Use the slider in the middle of the image below to see where the cash sales (red) are compared with sales via mortgages (blue).

for the map/Bridge map by Mike Wilkinson:

Few mortgages in Detroit

Most home sales in Detroit require cash; only 19 percent of the 3,800 sales in 2016 involved a mortgage, reflecting the difficulty to secure loans in a city where property values are less than half what they were a decade ago. Click on a marker to get more information, including price and year the home was built.

Source: RealComp II

If Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan is to be taken at his word, perhaps he shouldn’t be running for re-election this year.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation today announced a grant of $1.475 million to continue the work of the Detroit Journalism Cooperative (DJC) in reporting on community life and the city of Detroit’s future. The grant will help support news in the public interest and improve the quality and quantity of news coverage about Detroit.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Downtown Detroit is in a revival, but neighborhoods across the city are still declining. One of the reasons is the onslaught of tax foreclosures.  Those foreclosure mean more vacant houses. Soon the homes are stripped by scrappers, and the destruction can affect the whole block.

Ulysses Jones drove me around his neighborhood, MorningSide, on Detroit’s east side. He’s with a community organization also called MorningSide.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan
City of Detroit

Detroit is still on track to exit state financial oversight next year, despite having to make unexpected pension payouts out of its annual budgets.

That’s what Mayor Mike Duggan told the City Council at a preview of his proposed 2017-18 budget on Thursday.

The pension liabilities are not included in the city’s bankruptcy-court mandated plan of adjustment—something Duggan says was “concealed” from him by former emergency manager Kevyn Orr during the bankruptcy.

According to Laura Reese, while Midtown Detroit is seeing some income growth, the rest of the city is only getting worse
Wikimedia user, Andrew Jameson / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Over the past several years, the conventional wisdom has been that Detroit is recovering. Every new restaurant, boutique store, or retail chain setting up shop in Detroit is offered as proof.

There’s a major flaw in that assessment.

The focus of recent development has been the city’s central business districts. Meanwhile, the people in the neighborhoods are not sharing in that prosperity. If anything, the plight of Detroit’s long-time residents has been getting worse.

Lester Graham

In Detroit, jobs are scarce. Money is short.

That has led to an underground economy that one Detroit reporter calls a “gift economy.”

Valerie Vande Panne’s piece is titled “Life Without Money in Detroit’s Survival Economy.” 

Screenshot from the Pathways to Prison trailer

Tonight at 8 p.m., Detroit Public Television will debut a new documentary focused on the high rate of imprisonment in the U.S. and Michigan.

It's entitled Pathways to Prison.

Courtesy: St. Louis Public Radio

Racial tensions between white people and people of color are reaching levels not seen since the 1960s and ‘70s.

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