Safety in the City
Detroit’s top cop lays out his plan to control crime. Will it work?
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The couple planned to attend Henry Ford Community College in the fall, Johnson to become a physical therapist and Davis to become a nurse.
Investigators told relatives the couple likely was shot from the car’s backseat, indicating they knew the shooter.
“Rumors (in the neighborhood) said someone he knew did it,” Rosalind Johnson said. “I moved. Whoever committed the crime shot my son in the head four times and his girlfriend two times. What type of person would do this?”
Despite the startling statistics and the sobering stories, John Broad, president of Crime Stoppers, feels optimistic.
He said tips are flooding in from people fed up with the violence. So far this year, calls are up 20 percent compared to 2011 and 64 percent over 2010. He hopes to receive 7,000 tips this year.
The increase in tips leads Broad to believe that Crime Stoppers finally has made a dent in the city’s so-called “no snitching” philosophy. Less than one-third of people who call in tips follow up to see if there is a cash reward, he said.
“There is an increased commitment to look out for each other,” Broad said. “We have to get involved to help.”
Wilkins, still in mourning over her grandson’s death, wants to feel that hopeful. For now, all she can feel is searing anger.
“(Murderers) are slowly sucking the life out of humanity,” she said. “I am so sick of it. They are killing babies.”
Lashaunda Green fears for her own baby. On March 13, her 12-year-old son, Michael Green III, was shot on his way to play basketball at a buddy’s hoop a few houses down the street from his home.
On his way to his friend’s house, Michael, now 13, saw a black car riding down the street and felt pain in the back of his right arm. He had been shot—not by someone in the car—but by a stray bullet fired by someone down the street who was targeting the car, Green said.
It took three surgeries to repair damage caused by the bullet. Michael already has recovered feeling in his fingers and can move them, something doctors initially thought would take weeks of physical therapy to accomplish.
Now, fear rises within Green each time she rides down her street on Detroit’s west side. And it hasn’t been easy for Michael either. He had nightmares the first few days he was home from the hospital and needs classmates to help him complete assignments. He will spend his summer in rehabilitation and going to doctor’s appointments.
“He asks why he was shot and I try to keep him positive,” Green said. “He isn’t a hood kid. I try to teach Michael forgiveness. It was so senseless.”
But Lashaunda Green realizes she has been blessed; her son lived to tell the story.
“On the day he got shot, Michael was wearing a bracelet that said ‘Stop the Violence: Live, Love, Dream,’” she said. “That meant something to me. It means God will allow him to live. God will allow him to love and he has been given a chance to make his dreams come true.”
Santiago Esparza is a Detroit-based freelance writer.