Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Detroit is a Warning

I've posted occasionally about the decline of Detroit, and anyone who has watched the series "Life After People" probably has noted the number of real life ruins that are from Detroit or the its environs. The facts is that Detroit has been in a permanent economic and social decline since the 1960's, and as it descends into chaos, it provides a warning to anyone concerned with the long-term economic decline of the United States. Of interest to the readers of this blog should be this article on how Detroit citizens are increasingly turning to self-help in the wake of poor response time and service by the police. From the article:
The people of Detroit are taking no prisoners.

Justifiable homicide in the city shot up 79 percent in 2011 from the previous year, as citizens in the long-suffering city armed themselves and took matters into their own hands. The local rate of self-defense killings now stands 2,200 percent above the national average. Residents, unable to rely on a dwindling police force to keep them safe, are fighting back against the criminal scourge on their own. And they’re offering no apologies.

* * *

How it got this bad in Detroit has become a point of national discussion. Violent crime settled into the city’s bones decades ago, but recently, as the numbers of police officers have plummeted and police response times have remained distressingly high, citizens have taken to dealing with things themselves.

In this city of about 700,000 people, the number of cops has steadily fallen, from about 5,000 a decade ago to fewer than 3,000 today. Detroit homicides — the second-highest per capita in the country last year, according to the FBI — rose by 10 percent in 2011 to 344 people.

On a bleak day in January, a group of funeral directors wearied by the violence drove a motorcade of hearses through the city streets in protest.

Average police response time for priority calls in the city, according to the latest data available, is 24 minutes. In comparable cities across the country, it is well under 10 minutes.

Citizens like Brown feel they have been left with little choice but to take the law into their own hands.

The number of justifiable homicides, in which residents use deadly force in self-defense, jumped from 19 in 2010 to 34 last year — a 79 percent rise — according to newly released city data.

* * *

One high-ranking official in the county legal system, speaking to The Daily, said the rise in justifiable homicides mirrors a local court system that’s increasingly lenient of the practice.

“It’s a lot more acceptable now to get your own retribution,” the official said. “And the justice system in the city is a lot more understanding if people do that. It‘s becoming a part of the culture.”

Detroiters are arming themselves with shotguns and handguns and buying guard dogs. Anything to take care of their own. And privately, residents say neighborhood watch groups in Detroit are widely armed.

“It’s like the militiamen who stepped up way back when. That’s where the neighborhood folks are," said James “Jackrabbit” Jackson, a 63-year-old retired Detroit cop who has patrolled the Jefferson-Chalmers neighborhood for years.

“They’re ready to fight,” Jackson said. “We don’t hardly see police anymore.”

The city’s wealthier enclaves have hired private security firms. Intimidating men in armored trucks patrol streets lined with gracious old homes in a scene more likely seen in Mexico City than the United States.

That kind of paid protection can run residents anywhere from $10 to $200 per month, and companies say business is good.
Of course, this mirrors much of what FerFal has said on his blog and book regarding the economic crises in Argentina.

For a quick view of some of the physical decay in Detroit, here are some videos of the ruins of Detroit, here, here, and here. A video exploration of an abandoned office tower can be found here. If you want a quick explanation of what caused all of this, I would suggest this video from Steven Crowder of PJTV.

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