While downtown Detroit enjoys an impressive resurgence, and other vibrant neighborhoods such as Midtown and Greektown continue to thrive, there remain deadly, vicious pockets of violence and decay in the Motor City.
Often, those who lose their lives, be it to a gunshot, assault or drug overdose, warrant little or no mention in the newspapers. This is not necessarily by design ("The racist press covers deaths of whites more than deaths of African-Americans!"). Rather, it is because so many of these people live on the margins and have no families looking out for them. Mental illness, poverty, drug/alcohol addiction and a grinding daily existence gradually lead to a miserable demise for so many of these poor souls.
Just the other day, two suburban teenagers lost their lives during a nighttime trip to one of Detroit's deadliest neighborhoods. The exact details of what happened are unclear, and thus far no one has been charged with their murder.
Jacob Kudla, 18, and his friend, Jourdan Bobbish, 17, of Westland left their home Sunday evening, July 22 to visit Kudla's uncle in Detroit. Following their visit at his home, they ended up getting shot in the head, execution style, their bodies left in a vacant lot. For those familiar with Detroit, the area around Gratiot Avenue and Seven Mile Road, and the blocks to the south and west (Gratiot runs diagonally, northeast/southwest), are Michigan's version of Fallujah. In other words, stay the hell out, especially at night.
Somehow, the uncle still lives on Seven Mile Road. (Maybe his parents gave him their house in the will and he just cannot afford to move out? Just speculating.) At any rate, it's not exactly choice real estate. Check out this distressing picture from Google's street level view, showing the neighborhood where the teens' bodies were found. Move the photo around to see both sides of the street, and you'll notice there are far more boarded up/burned out houses than occupied ones. This is an utter disgrace, and so sad.
Reportedly, Kudla had a medical marijuana card because of pain from a past knee injury. There are conflicting reports as to whether his uncle gave him some pain pills or marijuana, but many believe he and Bobbish may have tried to purchase drugs in Detroit after leaving the uncle's home at 11 p.m. If Kudla had the medical marijuana card, why on earth would he risk buying pot in a dangerous slum?
A couple days after the boys went missing, their stolen car was recovered at a run-down apartment building on Detroit's west side. The high-end stereo system had been stripped from the 2001 Chevrolet Cavalier, and two middle-aged men living in the apartment building were arrested. (It turns out they were caught wiping down the interior of the vehicle with bleach at 1 a.m. -- highly suspicious behavior, and police searched their apartment and found the stolen items from the vehicle.)
The two dirtbags both have lengthy criminal records. Casey Jason Green, 39, and Larry Anderson, 40, face charges of larceny from a motor vehicle, obstruction of justice, and tampering with evidence. A police official was quoted as saying the men know more than they're letting on. Gee, ya think so?
For some strange reason, the robotic Detroit press keeps reporting that investigators are uncertain how the vehicle made it to the apartment building from where the uncle's home was. Well, DUH, do you think maybe the guys who stole the stereo equipment and were wiping down the car might have driven it? Just sayin'!
Some of the readers of the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press online accounts of this crime have been critical of the boys, stating that anyone who ventures into Detroit's ghettos for prostitutes or drugs is an idiot and looking for trouble. I partially agree with them, but I also have much sympathy for the boys.
We all did stupid and risky things when we were in our late teens and early 20s (myself included). Frankly, it's by the grace of God some of us still walk the earth (as opposed to being dead or in a wheelchair). These boys may have made an error in judgment and paid for it with their lives. Or, they may have gotten carjacked while stopped at a red light or pumping gas at an inner city Marathon station. Who knows?
But beyond the devastating blow to their families and the senseless loss of life, a crime like this underscores how far gone Detroit and so many cities are. These urban hellholes have reached a tipping point because of a combination of wrongheaded policies, misguided priorities by common men and women, apathy, evil, and slavish devotion to hedonism (i.e., drugs, alcohol and premarital sex that results in unwanted babies that grow up to be predators and parasites).
These quotes from some residents of the neighborhood, excerpted from an article in Saturday's Detroit News, are powerful and gut-wrenching:
"It's just so scary. We're ready to move," said Nichelle Haith, 35, who lives four blocks from the field. "These buildings, these vacant homes and all this tall grass — we're so scared," she said, sobbing. "You already know everybody is afraid to come into Detroit. You can't even visit your family."
"It just tears me up inside," added Marvin Brown, 41, who was visiting the scene with Haith. "We don't even have rats here because there's nothing left. But we've got crime. It's just the killing fields on the east side. There's nothing here but the devil."
It's plain as day. Look, if you have not, at the disturbing Google picture to which I have linked. Think about the heartbreak and pain of the families of these two boys. And contemplate the insane social and political policies and deviated mindsets that have brought about this mayhem. If this doesn't wake you up, nothing will.