dr airwair martens uk Detroit’s most dangerous neighborhoods still struggling during city’s comeback
The glow of downtown’s comeback hasn’t quite reached the street corner on Detroit’s Eastside where 22 year old James Rogers was walking recently.
While downtown is abuzz with development, the neighborhoods near Kelly Road and Morang Avenue are more recognizably “Detroit:” the ubiquitous liquor store; abandoned homes crumbling along trash strewn side streets; a murder victim shrine with liquor bottles and stuffed animals piled knee high around a street sign in sight of a school.
Downtown’s optimism hasn’t emanated to the hundreds of miles of Detroit streets like this where residents still contend with robberies, break ins, sexual assaults, drugs and murders on a daily basis.
Statistics from the Detroit Police Department bear this out. While crime has been trending downward in the city and all over Michigan homicides in Precinct 9, which encompasses Rogers’ Eastside neighborhood, have held steady.
In 2015, Precinct 9 had 46 homicides, two more than 44 in 2014. In 2013, there were 43 homicides and 2012 there were 52.
While brutal and bizarre murders generally get the headlines think Bob Bashara’s S murder of his wife, the mother who put her murdered children in a freezer and the teen who killed a 91 year old man by burning him alive the majority of Detroit’s killings are the result of a deeply entrenched cycle of poverty and drugs in the neighborhoods, police say.
Detroit police officials are quick to point out that most homicides aren’t random and that the victim generally knows the killer.
“It appears that the majority of the crimes committed in these areas has a narcotic nexus and certainly poverty plays a major role,” said Detroit police Sgt. Michael Woody. “Many of the crimes committed are not random and are directed or committed against known victims. We do have carjacking incidents where victims are random, but as it relates to homicides, the victim/perpetrator relationships are often known.”
About this map: This map features homicides color coded per precinct. It will launch with 2015 homicides, which are still provisional numbers, according to police. To change the years, click on “layers” and choose between 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. Roll over the map and click on a dot for more details about the incident. You can also zoom in and out. Map by Scott Levin.
The cultural, racial and sociological demarcation in southeast Michigan has historically been between city and suburbs.
The city is generally regarded as poor, black and crime ridden;
the suburbs as affluent, white and safe.
But a new division is emerging inside the city itself between the 7.2 square miles of the greater downtown area and the rest of the roughly 139 total square miles of the city.
Standing on a downtown corner can feel like being in the middle of a vast construction site. For months, Woodward Avenue has been torn up in various sections, making way for the M 1 rail that will connect downtown with the New Center area. Work on the new Red Wings arena and dozens of other projects only adds to the cacophony of construction.
More cops, less blight provide signs of hope for Detroit neighborhoods
On any given night, downtown streets, sidewalks and highways are jammed with sports fans, concertgoers and diners checking out one of Detroit’s new restaurants.
If murders are the measure, downtown is relatively safe. In Precinct 1, which covers downtown, there were 8 homicides in 2012, 8 again in 2013 and six in 2014. It’s the lowest of any of the city’s precincts.
The area is patrolled by police, as well as real estate investor Dan Gilbert’s security force, hired to keep an eye on the various properties his companies have been gobbling up at a rapacious pace over the last several years.
It’s a different story out in Brightmoor on the city’s far Westside where the streets were mostly empty on a sunny afternoon earlier this month.
Vacant lots filled with trash sit untended beside boarded up homes tagged with gang graffiti. There were more hopeful touches painted on other empty home fronts: shining suns, inspirational quotes and even a pastoral scene of people picking apples alongside a river.
The houses are small, built in a rush starting in the 1920s when the population was booming due to the rise of the auto industry, residents and job opportunities that have vanished.
Many of the empty lots are reverting back to nature, with bushes, trees and grass taking over. This prompted an enterprising outfit, Idyll Farms, to try and raise goats in the neighborhood, using the tall grass in abandoned fields as feed.
The city quickly mowed down that idea, however.
Brightmoor resident Lynn Adams said while she appreciates efforts to rid her neighborhood of abandoned homes, the empty lots that are left behind do pose a public health issue.
Adams said the odor of dead rats and the occasional homicide victim found in the tangle of vegetation on vacant lots has the tendency to waft throughout the neighborhood in the warmer months.