BY STEPHANIE COSBY, News Editor
Quicken Loans and Blue Cross Blue Shield recently moved their respective headquarters downtown, bringing thousands of jobs to the city.
Despite recent setbacks, the Lions, Tigers, and Red Wings have been thriving. The Live Midtown program is bringing a slew of new residents into the heart of the city.
New developments, including the Woodward light rail and the renovation of the RiverWalk, are cropping up. Small businesses and local restaurants are capturing national and international attention.
While Detroit seems to be rising from the ashes, a recent Detroit Free Press series on the city’s high murder rate shed light on just how far the city must go to achieve a true renaissance.
According to the series, Detroit’s homicide rate was the highest of 25 large American cities last year. Between Jan. 2003 and Nov. 6, 2011, “more people were killed in Detroit (3,313) than have died among U.S. forces in ten years of fighting in Afghanistan.” Between 2003 and June 30 of this year, 88% of the victims were black, 86% were male, and the average age was 32.
Detroit’s homicide investigation unit, staffed by 30 officers, is overwhelmed to say the least. The unit is able to close only 35-45% of murder cases, which is well below the 65% national average. Part of this is due to the sheer amount of murders, and part of it is due to the “no-snitching” mentality found in the neighborhoods. Criminals will not turn on each other and survivors are fearful of sharing what they know. “Officers hear it all the time: ‘Snitches end up in ditches’ or ‘Snitches get stitches,’” says the Free Press.
“There’s a sense of helplessness and hopelessness out there. And that’s a dangerous combination,” said Detroit homicide Sgt. Kenneth Gardner.
Police and residents attribute many of the murders to senseless violence. Innocent parents, grandparents, children, and friends are often caught in the crosshairs of violence directed toward someone else.
Russell Marcilis, Sr., the father of a Detroit homicide investigator, was accidentally killed in a home firebombing. The killer intended to murder someone with which he had a three-year feud. Uncertain which house his enemy lived in, the killer threw Molotov cocktails into three houses on the street.
Similarly, 3-year-old Aarie Berry was killed on July 10 when a stray bullet came through her family’s apartment during a fight between their neighbors.
To read the full Detroit Free Press Living with Murder report or to get a breakdown of the crimes, read about the victims, and learn more about this culture of violence, click here.