Detroit Citizens Prisoners in Their Homes City/Police Can't Help


This article appeared in today's Detroit News highlighting the plight of residents in one of the city's residential complexes.  It is a problem city-wide.
 I am reposting the article and including my comment at the end.
As usual, the comments are nearly, or perhaps even more revelatory than the article.  Read the comments!

May 7, 2012 at 1:12 am
Crime fears rattle fed-up residents of M.L. King Apartments

    By George Hunter
    The Detroit News

Living in fear: Sharonda Hawkins derscribes life in the Martin Luther King Apartments. (follow link to view video)

Detroit— In an apartment complex named for a man who stood for peace and freedom, residents say rampant violence has made them prisoners in their own homes.

The Martin Luther King Apartments on Lafayette near Chene, less than a mile from downtown, is a sprawling 481-unit compound that's been taken over by drug dealers and other criminals, residents say.

"We're the forgotten people of Detroit," said Sharonda Hawkins, 48, whose husband, Brandon Johnson, was gunned down in August, a few doors down from her apartment. Faded bloodstains, which Hawkins said won't wash away, still mar the doorway where the murder took place.

Hawkins straps her .40-caliber pistol to her belt whenever she leaves her apartment, even to walk a few yards to the community mailboxes. She said the problems in the complex where she's lived since 1988 are a microcosm of what's wrong with the city.

"You hear people who come in from the suburbs to go to Comerica Park or the casinos talking about how much they love Detroit," she said. "But they don't see the real Detroit: Open drug dealing; rapes; murders. People shouldn't have to live like this. It's like we're hostages in our own homes."

Detroit Police Deputy Chief Benjamin Lee said police are aware of the crime problem at the apartment complex, and are "doing some things" to address it, although he declined to be specific about tactics. An official with Independent Management Services, the Fenton-based company that owns the apartments, declined to comment.

Hawkins, who has attended recent meetings of the Board of Police Commissioners to complain, said residents are skeptical of promises from police.

"They know about this problem, and they keep saying they're going to do something about it, (but) nothing ever gets done," she said.

Board Chairman Donnell White said police need more residents like Hawkins to speak out against crime in their neighborhoods.

"Like many Detroiters, Ms. Hawkins is fed up, and has become active in trying to seek a solution," White said. "That's what needs to happen; occupying a neighborhood with officers isn't going to solve the problem. Residents and police working together is the solution."

Lee said police recently arrested suspects they believed were responsible for several break-ins in the complex, only to find residents reluctant to cooperate.

"The problem is, nobody wanted to press charges," he said. "It's frustrating."

Residents are afraid to press charges, said Essie Solomon, 72, who has lived in the apartments for 10 years.

"Nobody wants to say anything because they're afraid of what these (criminals) will do to them," she said. "It's worse now than it ever was. It was bad when I moved in, but now, it's just terrible."

Other residents acknowledged the crime problem in the apartments, but declined to comment because they said they feared retribution.

The Martin Luther King complex, subsidized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, is a series of two- and three-story units that abut parking lots accessible by single driveways. That forces residents to wade through crowds of drug dealers and "thugs," Hawkins said.

"There's only one entrance, and you can't get in without having to go through a bunch of bad people," she said. "The thugs have taken over. I'm afraid to let my daughter outside; there's no safe time to let her out."

Hawkins and Solomon recently pleaded for aid at a meeting of the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners. "Please — someone help us," Hawkins said. "People are scared to death."

Hawkins said she will continue to attend commission meetings to pressure investigators to solve her husband's murder. "I don't want it to just end up as another cold case," she said.

Johnson, Hawkins' husband and father of their 8-year-old daughter, Stormy, was on his way home the night of Aug. 29, 2011, to celebrate the couple's fifth wedding anniversary, when Hawkins said she heard the familiar sound of gunshots just outside her apartment.

"That happens so often, I have a routine: When I hear shots, I make phone calls to my neighbors to make sure they're all right," Hawkins said. "I knew my husband was about to come home, so I called his cellphone to tell him, 'Baby, be careful; someone's shooting out there.' But it kept going straight to voicemail."

Hawkins quickly found out why: The 36-year-old Henry Ford Hospital surgical assistant had been struck by one of the bullets.

"I lost my best friend," she said as she tried in vain to hold back tears.

Hawkins, a homemaker, said she's determined to solve the crime herself.

"I've been gathering information about this case, and putting myself in the line of fire," she said. "I'll draw my last breath trying to get justice. I owe that to my husband."


(313) 222-2134

There are 41 comments at the time I post this.  Read the comments!

Here is mine.

Gregory Lowrey · Pastor/CEO at UBU Ministries
When the City and the Police say the problem is beyond their ability to properly contain or even respond to, it should put the citizens on notice that "calling the police" to report crimes is not the solution. 
These are extreme circumstances and it is just for this kind of situation that the 2nd Amendment was made Law. "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." 
The parameters I would define would be for an armed, formally organized neighborhood militia to be formed to root out the crime that the city cannot or will not attend to.
I am not suggesting vigilantism, but an organized force to meet the needs of the community. Gangs cannot be simply chased into another community, they must be eliminated in the same manner that they eliminate the freedom and liberty of honest citizens. 
As Psalm 149:6 declares, "Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand". 
The "Golden Rule" swings in both directions - to serve AND to protect. Detroit's problems will never be solved by "government" pencil pushers. 
The people, if they would organize and empower themselves could, standing together, make all necessary remedies in pretty short order. 
The old adage is truer today than ever; "The best place to look for a helping hand is at the end of your own arm."

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