Community | News | Opinion

Real talk: Detroit still unsafe for residents

I am a spoiled suburbanite. I didn’t really ever want to be in the city. Or the state. As far away from here as possible, really. I went away to college and then ended up wasting away for a time in Arizona. I moved again, this time a little north (okay a lot north. Wisconsin), and when I finally realized that moving around wasn’t the same as earning a living, I came home. I started dating someone and lived with them for the better part of 4 years in Lafayette Park. I began to hang out in Detroit and meet people. I started to fall in love with the city. I think I needed to grow up a little.

I have experienced a lot in Detroit. But of course, my experiences have been within a 5 mile radius. Downtown, Midtown, New Center; that’s pretty much it. I do not go to the west side. The occasional venture to SW Detroit for Mexican food, sure. I drive through the east side to get to my family. I will drive down Jefferson no problem, but I don’t know much about what lays within the rows of streets except for Indian Village. I always knew that Alter was a very distinct city limit. And Ashland (the next street over) had the sickest bump in the road that would get a Chevy Blazer way up in the air. Now you know what my high school nights consisted of… But I did not know and still don’t know what so many Detroiters experience. I just know that where I hang out I feel safe, but others might not feel the same, and that is not fair.

Even though I am usually safe, I have seen, felt and heard things. While living downtown, I had a catalytic converter stolen twice in one month. I have seen someone stealing tires off a car, and in this case my significant other yelled at them to stop. The dude pretended to pull a gun. I have never run so fast. That was also the only night in my life I slept next to a loaded .45; in case they came back. The gun was a legal weapon owned by someone who lived in the house. Strangely, I felt no extra security. Still panicked. I have listened to the gunshots of someone being killed, and watched the S.W.A.T team work all afternoon, only to find out it was a double murder-suicide and the suspect was dead. But I heard everything and could see the aftermath. It was one of the worst days I can remember. I can forget it happened, but the man who was killed in cold blood had a lovely wife, and it never goes away for her. I know her. I see her. She still lives down there. I have also watched police arrive in seconds after a shooting took place right downtown. It was nice to see a sense of urgency, but why must we experience this violence in the first place?

What about the kid that finds a gun and shoots a 3-year-old with it? That story was picked up by every major news outlet, by the way. So Kym Worthy doesn’t want to charge an 11-year-old with murder but has no choice. How about we get the guns off the street. The court says “lock them up”. I am sure everyone has some extra cash laying around to go buy a safe. Maybe the DPD should deliver safes to the residents. Just a friendly suggestion. Let’s look at some recent numbers. This past weekend, 3 people were killed and 26 wounded. This is insane and uncalled for. What’s more? There was a shooting that wasn’t included in this count; Amber Moore*, a 20-year-old transgender woman was shot and killed. Despicable. She was exiting a car. This has to stop. Safety should not be a perk of having a higher income. It should be is most definitely a civil right.

*Amber Monroe was a Ruth Ellis Center member and an advocate for the trans community. The Ruth Ellis Center provides long and short-term safe space and support services for runaway, homeless and at-risk LGBTQ youth in Detroit and Southeastern Michigan. To make a donation to Ruth Ellis Center, visit http://www.ruthelliscenter.org/

Lauren McMichael

Lauren McMichael is an advertising account manager at SMZ, where her client list includes Broadway in Detroit and the Detroit Red Wings. Lauren is also a founding member of Detroit Passport to the Arts, which cultivates audiences within the Detroit arts and culture scene. Born and raised in Metro Detroit, Lauren is extremely passionate about the city. Aside from DVoice, Lauren can be found writing on personal blog, Black Tie Optional. Follow her @ellecavmc.