I could see tension between the city blacks and the Detroit police increasing rapidly. Black militants and black radicals made their voices ring in rebellion. STRESS became a rallying point for black militants.
~ J. F. Spreen, “Who Killed Detroit? Other Cities Beware” (2005)
In my new mid-week column on Detroit, I am challenging myself to provide real solutions and not just list a litany of the city’s ills, which, sad to say, since my people have been in power for the past 35 years, have literally turned Detroit – a formerly affluent, cosmopolitan and important city, once called “the arsenal of Democracy” and “Motor City” – into “the most miserable city in America.”
Like in the Garden of Eden, it all began so pure, with such hope, with such limitless possibilities and promise, but in place of the subtle, crafty snake was a diabolical and baseless philosophical assumption my people have stubbornly believed in like religious dogma – the idea that a black man can govern black people better than a white man or a person of another race, not by his abilities, but because of skin color alone.
While I understand this tribalism ethic, 40 years of black elected leadership in small, medium and large cities all across America has in the main had disastrous results for the majority black populations under their rule. Not because of race, but because of a wicked, failed ideology and political philosophy called liberalism.
In 1974, Coleman Alexander Young, Detroit’s first black mayor who later won four terms (1974-94), in his inaugural address was blunt and to the point. Young declared: “I issue an open warning right now to all dope pushers, to all rip-off artists, to all muggers: It’s time to leave Detroit. I don’t give a damn if they are black or white, or if they wear Super Fly suits or blue uniforms with silver badges: Hit the road.”
On the surface Young’s rhetoric was compelling, but the devil is always in the details. Since I am writing this column with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, we now know that Mayor Young had no intention of putting the criminal elements to flight out of Detroit because liberals thrive on chaos – but his speech was code language and a threat to the 91 percent of whites and 8 percent of blacks living in Detroit who didn’t vote for him.
Basically, that speech gave the middle-finger salute to these dissenters, urging them to get the hell out of town (including white police officers). Young’s politics was a politics of vengeance, tribalism and crass cronyism that held Detroit hostage for 20 years and birthed a new generation of even more pathological leadership in Young’s protégée, Detroit’s current embattled mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick.
The first thing Mayor Young did after seizing executive control was to keep his campaign promise of disbanding a controversial unit within the police force called “STRESS.” STRESS (Stop the Robberies, Enjoy Safe Streets) was a successful crime-fighting program using undercover police officers to act as decoys in stopping crimes in the more violent parts of the city. The immediately effective tactics of STRESS had caused certain black activist demagogues and craven liberal pols to complain that they were too often the targets of the unit’s trigger-happy whites despite a 20 percent drop in crime.
A few weeks ago I received an e-mail from a retired Detroit police officer named Larry Nevers (a member of STRESS), who was one of the officers unjustly and for crass political reasons put on trial regarding the 1992 accidental death of Malice Green – Detroit’s version of the Rodney King affair. To avoid bad press the Detroit City Council in a gutless move quickly awarded Malice Green’s family $5.1 million in damages.
The notoriety from this racially hysterical case catapulted an inconspicuous DA of unremarkable talent (Kym Worthy) to win a large verdict against white police officers “who killed Malice Green,” and parlay that into a judgeship and now her current position, Wayne County prosecutor. Yet, that same speed Kym Worthy used to exploit an accidental death of a unruly drug addict by the police, is slow as frozen molasses to bring perjury charges against Mayor Kilpatrick despite the vast powers and resources of her office and the fact that Detroit Free Press columnists have basically written the legal brief for her case.
Mr. Nevers was also kind enough to send me a copy of his 2007 book, “Good Cops, Bad Verdict,” narrating that horrific chapter of his distinguished police career. Regarding STRESS, Nevers declared, “Sure, Coleman Young was partially correct when he accused STRESS of killing young black men, but, you have to ask yourself who was committing these acts of armed robberies? Young black men! Coleman Young failed to mention the STRESS officers that were killed or maimed doing their jobs.”
It has been 34 years since Young disbanded STRESS. A dispassionate comparison of the results of a Detroit without STRESS versus a Detroit with this valuable crime-fighting unit is self-evident.
Demonstrative of this fact was a recent article by Forbes magazine whereby Detroit added another dubious distinction to her infamous list of accomplishments – “The Most Miserable City in America.” Forbes writes:
Imagine living in a city with the country’s highest rate for violent crime and the second-highest unemployment rate. As an added kicker you need more Superfund dollars allocated to your city to clean up contaminated toxic waste sites than just about any other metro. …
Misery is defined as a state of great unhappiness and emotional distress. The economic indicator most often used to measure misery is the Misery Index. The index, created by economist Arthur Okun, adds the unemployment rate to the inflation rate. It has been in the narrow 7-to-9 range for most of the past decade, but was over 20 during the late 1970s. …
Crime and unemployment are closely linked. … Our three most miserable places bear that out (Detroit, Mich; Flint, Mich; Stockton, Calif.). All three are among the eight worst cities in terms of both unemployment and violent crime. …
The citizens of Detroit should stop the craziness of electing people that look like themselves and instead elect leaders that were intelligent, competent, honest, humble and most importantly, not monolithic in their thinking and myopic in their political vision. In other words, stop electing socialist, liberal Democrats to all the seats of power in the city and Detroit will soon have a real Renaissance.
Young’s disbandment of Detroit’s STRESS undercover unit 34 years ago only elevated the stress-level of all Detroiters of good will. Moreover, Young’s shortsightedness and shameless pandering to the socialist, demagogic and militant elements of the city jeopardized the quality of life for all Detroiters, amounting to a de facto implementation of the DCEPA – Detroit Criminal Equal Protection Act.
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