Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me: Devil’s Night in 90% Black Detroit

In honor of Halloween, the latest Paul Kersey over at VDare is a reminder that Diversity Is Strength! It’s Also…Devil’s Night In Detroit:

There are few ways to test the health of your community better then by seeing how well a holiday is celebrated by your neighbors. Last year, we asked if you if your city could pass the Trick-or-Treating test for Halloween, knowing that only parents living in an actual community—one replete with high social capital—would feel comfortable sending their children out into the night to ask neighbors for candy. 

Remember, Harvard sociologist Robert Putnam found that theDevil's Night, 2009cities with the highest percentage of social capital/trust were those that were the least “diverse—i.e. the most homogenous. 

Now imagine you live in a city that, presumably, should have high social capital—90 percent of the inhabitants are of the same race. But instead, that city’s government has to issue “emergency temporary ordinance that requires anyone attempting to buy gasoline in cans to provide identification, and a 6 p.m. curfew for youths younger than 18,” from October 29- Halloween night (Oct. 31). [Detroit Angels’ Night patrols ready to go, UPI, 10-26-12]. The minors’ parent or guardian will also be issued a parent responsibility violation ticket. [Detroit’s Devil’s Night curfew, gas ordinance to stay enforced during storm conditions, By Eric Lacy, , October 30, 2012] 

Yes, we’re taking about 90 percent black Detroit. On “Devil’s Night” (October 30), the good citizens of Detroit have taken to torching abandoned buildings and long-idle commercial real estate. 

Ze’ev Chafets wrote the still-definitive account of the terror that strikes the Motor City every Halloween eve in his 1991 book Devil’s Night: And Other True Tales of Detroit:

I vaguely remembered Devil’s Night. When I was a kid growing up in Pontiac, a grimy industrial clone of Detroit ten miles north of the city, it had been a time of harmless pranks—window soaping, doorbell ringing and rolls of toilet paper in the neighbor’s trees. But it had been twenty years since I lived there, and a lot of things had changed. One of them was Devil’s Night. 

Three years earlier, in 1983, for reasons no-one understands, America’s sixth largest city suddenly erupted into flame. Houses, abandoned buildings, even unused factories burned to the ground in an orgy of arson that lasted for seventy-two hours. When it was over the papers reported more than 800 fires. Smoke hung over the city for weeks.
Even my friend’s dramatic description did not prepare me for what I saw that night. On the streets of Detroit I could sense the same rush of energy, the same sense of excitement that always accompanies nocturnal action. Police helicopters circled overhead and fire trucks, sirens blaring, raced form one conflagration to another. Cops guarded the firemen as they fought the flames. It was only when I saw the faces of the neighborhood people, mostly older blacks with long coats over their bathrobes, standing grimly on their porches, armed with shotguns and garden hoses, protecting their property, that I realized this was no homecoming rally; on Devil’s Night, they use homes for kindling.

My friend’s car was equipped with a police-band radio, and as he drove from fire to fire he gradually became the leader of a motorcade. At every stop, people gawked at the flames and passed around bottles of whiskey and thermos caps of steaming coffee. The suburbanites talked with bittersweet nostalgia about their old neighborhoods in Detroit, pointed to childhood sites now sunk into decrepitude and shook their heads. The message was tacit but unmistakable—Look at what they’re doing to our city. “

Read the rest there and be share to share it on this Halloween. 

A normal placard in 90% black Detroit

It would be interesting to try and catalog the number of fires/buildings destroyed by each act of arson over the Devil’s Night escapades in Detroit. A 1989 Los Angeles Times article informs us that 229 fires reported in 1988 and roughly 460 in ’89:

Devil’s Night arson first became a major problem for Detroit in 1983, when 650 fires were reported, as vacant buildings throughout the city were torched. After the 1984 Devil’s Night, when the arson spree peaked at 810 fires, city officials mounted a massive campaign to curb the destruction in subsequent years. It had been largely successful in reducing the arson each year, until this week.

Interesting. It was reported in Michigan Live that the number of ‘suspicious’ fires have dropped in recent years [Every night is Devils’ Night in Detroit, union president says,10-30-2012]:

Detroit saw just 83 suspicious fires over the three-day Halloween period a year ago, down from 169 in 2010, 119 in 2009 and 136 in 2008, but city officials this year took additional measures in the anti-arson effort, implementing a curfew for minors from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Most interesting. Steven Gray, writing in Time, tried to get to the origins of “Devil’s Night” by being as delicate as possible, tiptoeing around the obvious racial angle [Can Detroit Prevent a Return of ‘Devil’s Night’?, 10-30-2009]:

The exact origin of Devil’s Night is unclear. People who grew up in Detroit following World War II recall kids plastering cars with toilet paper, and tossing onto porches fiery paper bags filled with feces. Huge swaths of this city burned during the 1967 riots, leaving the kind of blighted property that experts say lures prospective arsonists. John Hall, a researcher at the National Fire Prevention Association, said the presence of so many vacant properties presented the ingredients for what’s known as “the broken windows syndrome.” He says “when people see a collection of abandoned properties in one location, graffiti goes up. The general perception is, ‘We’ve lost control of our neighborhood.’ It’s infectious.” During the 1960s riots, parts of cities like Newark, Chicago and Los Angeles were torched. But those cities never developed a tradition like Detroit’s Devil’s Night.

Sigh. Abandoned properties, graffiti, blight, “losing control of a neighborhood”… all manners in which to describe a community created by black people. 

Devil’s Night in Detroit: A most unique black tradition, where black people engage in the burning of a city they inherited by… burning the city in the insurrection of 1967. 



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