Category: Community - Original Written by Hiram E. Jackson, Michigan Chronicle Publisher
The loss of a life to senseless acts of violence is hard to cope with, but it is exceptionally hard when we have to own up to our own culpability. black on black violence has become our community’s ill-hidden dirty little secret.
Of the 386 criminal homicides in Detroit reported in 2012, 88 percent were committed within our own homes.
Our silence regarding Detroit’s ever-escalating homicide rate gives the appearance of a “what happens in our neighborhoods stays in our neighborhoods”-type pact among city residents, the majority of whom are innocent law-abiding citizens.
There has to be a point where the black community says enough is enough. We cannot continue to remain sedentary and silent as these horrific acts continue unabated.
Bullets are becoming the most common and deadly form of conflict resolution in our homes, neighborhoods and schools. In order to stop the violence, we need to begin to engage in more open dialogue.
First, we have to understand the numbers:
Two-thirds of homicides in Detroit are drug-related. The majority of others result from conflicts between domestic partners, friends and acquaintances.
And, we need to reduce them — fast.
Nearly 50 percent of Detroit’s homicide cases remain unsolved due to community silence about the victim-offender relationship and other pertinent insights about the perpetrators, according to David Martin, director of the Urban Safety Program at Wayne State University in Detroit.
The Detroit Police Department needs us to immediately share information about criminal activity and will be making it easier for citizens to report crimes over their personal computers and smartphones with “Cop Logic,” to be introduced this month.
Even with this newest tool at our disposal, we need to recognize that they only work when we use them. We’ve got to break our collective code of silence in order to break out of this urban genocide.
Finally, we need to immediately employ and support better conflict resolution methods.
As part of an ongoing effort to heighten awareness about the effects of murder in the Black community, the Michigan Chronicle will publish a list of homicides in the city each month. It is our hope that as the list of victims grows, so will a true understanding of how these lost lives affect the mental health, economic well-being and images of our neighborhoods. As important, we pledge additional support to Mayor Bing, the Detroit Police Department, other enforcement agencies, DPS Emergency Manager Roy Roberts and community-based conflict resolution groups and efforts in print and digital editions of the Michigan Chronicle.
The violence will end when we demand its end. Let’s begin now.
Last Updated on Friday, 08 February 2013 15:12
Category: Community - Original Written by Cathy Nedd
MARVIN BEATTY, JOEL FERGUSON AND EARVIN “MAGIC” JOHNSON RECEIVE NOD TO DEVELOP STATE FAIR GROUNDS
(Detroit) Thursday, February 7, 2013 -- Today, a group of investors got the nod from the Michigan Land Bank Fast Track Authority to develop the 157 acre State Fair site located east of Woodward and south of 8 Mile road. The group, called Magic Plus, consists of Basketball Hall of Famer Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Michigan State University Trustee Joel Ferguson and Detroit mogul Marvin Beatty. Management company Redico is also involved in the project.
The group plans to convert the historically designated site into a luxury theater, entertainment complex, mixed retail condos and senior housing. An Amtrak station is also part of the plans. Total investment is slated to be $160 million.
“It is an honor to have been chosen to develop what was once one of Detroit’s jewels,” said Beatty. “As a native Detroiter, I am committed to be a part of the movement to redevelop this great city.”
Last Updated on Thursday, 07 February 2013 20:22
Category: Community - Original Written by Patrick Keating, Chronicle Staff Writer
According to Andrew Arena, executive director of the Detroit Crime Commission (DCC), the mission of the DCC is to look at criminal enterprises that are flying under the radar, and which law enforcement can’t get to, as well as quality of life issues around the city.
Arena, former director of the Detroit FBI Office, said the DCC came up with two programs to address those. The first is criminal investigations.
Crime commissions are nothing new, Arena said. Chicago has had one for almost 100 years, New Orleans for almost 60. The Detroit Crime Commission got its start two years ago, when some local businessmen and attorneys who took a hard look at crime and quality of life issues in the city, asked various law enforcement agencies what they could do.
Arena, then special agent in charge of the Detroit division of the FBI, was one of the people they spoke to.
“I remember my advice to them was ‘we can use all the help we can get, if you guys are willing to fund something like this, as long as you define the mission and the goals and basically a lane within which this organization would work,’” he said.
He also recommended that they speak to Michigan State Police Inspector Ellis Stafford and FBI agent Ron Reddy, who have both since retired from those organizations.
Arena described Reddy, now deputy director of the DCC, and Stafford, now operations director, as the “proud parents” of the organization.
He was subsequently asked to run the DCC, but wasn’t yet eligible to retire. That changed last spring. And Arena decided to stay in Detroit, where he grew up, because he wanted his kids to grow up here, too.
He joined the DCC on July 2.
The DCC is licensed by the state as a private investigation organization. Arena and his colleagues wondered how they would investigate criminal activity, given that they do not have subpoena or arrest powers. However, their reputations in the community has led people to bring things to them.
He said people seem more willing to talk to them because they’re not cops. There’s also a trust factor.
“They will tell us things they probably wouldn’t have told us when we were with law enforcement,” he said.
Stafford said investigations often involve significant paperwork. In some insurance fraud cases, documentation comes in stacks of paper four feet high. He said no department has the time and resources to analyze all that data.
By contrast, the DCC has hired analysts. And Stafford said the organization has a “marriage” with U of D Mercy with regard to interns who “know how to apply analytical tools to data.” Most police departments don’t have that.
Stafford also said most people who come to the DCC with boxes of materials have, more often than not, already approached overworked local law enforcement officials who don’t have the time to look at those materials.
“But we do,” he said.
DCC Director of Development Steffanie Samuels said the Commission has professional analysts as well as interns.
Arena noted that the DCC is actively looking at corruption cases and has referred more than 30 to law enforcement agencies. In some instances, the DCC has brought cases to fruition. Arena said it turned one over to the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office.
The DCC has also given cases to the FBI, Secret Service, Michigan State Police, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. However, the bulk of the work has gone to the Detroit Police Department.
The “coverage area” is tri-county, but Arena said it’s been difficult to get out of the city. The Commission is in discussion with the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department about combating gang activity.
According to Stafford, the support the DCC enjoys from law enforcement and elected officials comes from the Commission being circumspect. He and Reddy spent two months on a “listening tour,” hearing from those individuals.
Arena added that they also spoke to various community groups.
Stafford said a UDM study found that quality of life issues were of primary importance. People were concerned about abandoned houses, open, dangerous and vacant properties, and barking dogs. Violent crimes trended number seven.
Nuisance abatement is the second program. Arena said it feeds the DCC’s investigative aspect, especially given that a large number of burned houses in the city have the same owner. He said the DCC will go after those owners civilly, but they will also investigate criminal activity.
The DCC also focuses on the large-scale slum lords, those who own several hundred abandoned or blighted houses that become bastions of crime.
Arena said some slumlords are abating the nuisance after getting a letter telling them they have 30 days to do so.
“They don’t want the public embarrassment,” he said, adding that the DCC will happily reveal names.
“We’re not law enforcement anywhere,” he said. “We don’t care. We’ll come to the Michigan Chronicle and say ‘this guy’s a slumlord.’”
Arena said the DCC receives private donations of about $850,000 per year. He added that Samuels’ job is to help the DCC receive more donations.
He also said the DCC received about $100,000 out of a $1 million grant from the U.S. Dept of justice to the Eastern District of Michigan.
The DCC also receives in-kind donations and services, such as interns and about nine pro-bono attorneys.
“To us, that’s just as good as money,” he said.
The DCC employs four investigators and two full-time analysts. It just hired an office manager.
There are also four interns. Two from UDM and two from the University of Detroit Law School.
The DCC’s initial focus expanded when Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy told them there’s no mechanism to protect witnesses in Wayne County. Stafford set up a safeguard program through which the DCC pays others to take witnesses to some place safe until the trial or grand jury hearing. It’s been used in three cases so far.
Arena said the goal is for the DCC to still be here long after he’s gone, but it also has to be flexible in its mission.
“Our mission in five years may be totally different from what it is today,” he said.
For more information about the Detroit Crime Commission, call (313) 394-1600 or visit www.Detroitcrimecommission.org.
Last Updated on Thursday, 07 February 2013 12:42
Category: Community - Original Written by Bankole Thompson, Chronicle Senior Editor
SPECIAL BLACK HISTORY REPORT
Rosa Parks, the mother of the Civil Rights Movement, would have turned 100 on Feb 4.
The courageous woman’s refusal to give up her seat to a White man on a municipal bus led to the famous Montgomery Bus Boycott, which launched the Civil Rights Movement and placed Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. into the national spotlight.
Mrs. Parks’ memory and indefatigable spirit were the focus of her birthday celebration at the Henry Ford Museum where the bus that symbolizes her resistance to racism is stationed as a historical exhibit.
On Monday, civil rights leaders from around the country as well as observers of America’s long battle for equality came to the Henry Ford to celebrate Mrs. Parks’ legacy in the same year as the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington.
Julian Bond, former chairman of the NAACP, historian Douglas Brinkley and others participated in wide ranging discussions about the impact Mrs. Parks had not only in this country, but around the world as well.
President Barack Obama, in a proclamation to mark the day, applauded Park’s courage.
“Though Rosa Parks was not the first to confront the injustice of segregation laws, her courageous act of civil disobedience sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott — 381 days of peaceful protest when ordinary men, women, and children sent the extraordinary message that second-class citizenship was unacceptable,” read the proclamation.
“Rather than ride in the back of buses, families and friends walked. Neighborhoods and churches formed carpools.
Their actions stirred the conscience of Americans of every background, and their resilience in the face of fierce violence and intimidation ultimately led to the desegregation of public transportation systems across our country.
“Rosa Parks’ story did not end with the boycott she inspired. A lifelong champion of civil rights, she continued to give voice to the poor and the marginalized among us until her passing on October 24, 2005.”
To recognize the day, President Obama said, “As heirs to the progress won by those who came before us, let us pledge not only to honor their legacy, but also to take up their cause of perfecting our Union.”
As part of a national recognition, the U.S Postal Service honored Rosa Parks with a Forever stamp.
Many have been recalling the simple life Mrs. Parks lived and when she said, “I would like to be known as a person who is concerned about freedom and equality and justice and prosperity for all people.”
Congressman John Conyers, Jr., dean of the Congressional Black Caucus who gave Mrs. Parks a job in his office to ensure that she would receive a retirement package, also praised her humility despite her larger than life role in the Civil Rights Movement.
Just 42 years old in 1955 when she moved from being a seamstress to a global icon for the stand she took that day in Montgomery, Rosa Parks’ impact continues to inspire generations.
Last Updated on Thursday, 07 February 2013 13:46
Category: Community - Original Written by Jackie Berg
SPECIAL TO THE CHRONICLE
The average workplace isn’t what it used to be. It’s becoming a much “bigger” place, according to experts who agree that significant increases in the number of sedentary jobs is contributing to Michigan’s growing obesity pandemic.
“On average, Michigan workers sit an average of 9.3 hours per day,” said Tricia Keith, SVP, corporate secretary and services, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.
Given recent research showing that sitting just 6 hours a day cuts five years off life expectancy, there’s real cause for alarm. Add Michigan’s rising obesity rates to the mix and you have the makings of a healthcare crisis, according to a group of business leaders supporting MI Healthier Tomorrow, a campaign launched by the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) to encourage overweight Michigan residents to shed 10 percent of their excess body weight.
Today, more than 30 percent of Michigan’s workforce is obese. Left unchecked, the statistics are projected to reach 50 percent by 2030.
Obesity-related costs in Michigan are staggering. In 2008, Michigan spent an estimated $3.1 billion on obesity related medical costs. If current trends continue, it’s estimated that by 2018 Michigan will spend $12.5 billion on obesity-related medical.
If you’re an employer, odds are that obesity is already costly.
Obesity-related absenteeism costs employers as much as $6.4 billion a year, health economists led by Eric Finkelstein of Duke University calculated.
Most obese women miss 9.4 more days of work annually due to obesity-related conditions. Obese males miss 5.9 days a year, according to reports.
The indirect costs associated with obesity-related pain, shortness of breath and other obstacles or “presenteesim” are attributed with a 30-day loss in worker productivity, costing employers more than $3,000 per very obese worker per year. The total cost of presenteesim due to obesity is $30 billion.
When Michigan’s employers calculate the total costs of obesity associated with increased absenteeism and increased healthcare coverage costs, the numbers are staggering.
“More than 75 percent of chronic disease spending in Michigan is now associated with obesity, according to the MDCH.
“These kinds of statistics demand involvement, according to Tanya Heidelberg-Yopp, senior vice president community and diversity at Compuware Corporation and a MI Healthier Tomorrow workplace partner, which supports workplace wellness with a full gym and in-house cafeteria stocked with fresh foods and healthier menu options.
“A pledge to the MI Healthier Tomorrow campaign is as much as a public pledge as a personal commitment,” noted the pledge participant, who demands that anyone who sees her with a French fry near her mouth this year knock it away.”
The results of just a 10 percent drop in weight can make a big difference in participants’ lives, according to Stephanie Stevenson, AVP of compensation and benefits at Quicken Loans and enthusiastic workplace participant partner.
Quicken Loans is providing support services from onsite health screenings to health and wellness activities, aimed at amping-up employee fitness and wellness goals.
For partner BCBSM, the effort is a part of the company’s DNA, according to Keith. BCBSM infuses activity into its internal and externally-supported campaigns and is considered a model workplace among employers.
“Incremental change is an important part of any weight loss strategy,” said Keith. “That’s why we support MI Healthier Tomorrow, in addition to our own proprietary campaigns. Many people are surprised to discover what big impact even small lifestyle changes can make on weight loss goals.
“Drinking a couple more glasses of water daily, taking the stairs and parking in the back of the employee lot are easy to incorporate into our daily routines.
“If you incorporate these small things with other dietary and fitness activities, you will be surprised how quickly you can drop 10 percent of your body weight.”
Last Updated on Thursday, 07 February 2013 12:35
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