Angel’s Night in Detroit

456146776_dacd16ee59As I’m writing this I’m watching the cheesy cult classic, “The Crow.” You know, the costume that every semi-edgy guy wore for Halloween in the ’90s? And you’re probably wondering, “why are you telling me about this?” Well, because I’m also writing this the night before Halloween, otherwise known as “Devil’s Night.” And that’s when this movie takes place. Devil’s Night in Detroit.

The basic premise of this movie, without turning this into a movie feature, is that Eric Draven (played by the late Brandon Lee) returns to earth on the anniversary of his death to avenge him and his fiancee. One year prior, a gang broke into their home in Detroit and murdered them. In the opening scene of the movie, on a block engulfed in fire, police officers are investigating the crime scene and one cop says to another, “How many fires is this?” and the answer is 143. Someone later in the movie says, “What this city needs is a good natural catastrophe.” What does this have to do with anything? This is a movie, right? A supernatural thriller, it has nothing to do with real life.

While that’s true, the setting isn’t exactly far from realistic. While Devil’s Night is considered a national thing, it’s mainly associated with the acts of vandalism and arson that peaked in Detroit in the ’70s through the ’90s. The destruction peaked in the mid-’80s, with over 800 arsons in 1984. The average for that decade was between 500 and 800. After a particular brutal Devil’s Night 1994, Detroit’s mayor at the time, Dennis Archer, decided to take a stand against vandals, and in 1995, the first Angel’s Night began.

Now, 40,000 to 50,000 Detroiters and metro-Detroiters volunteer every year on October 30 to patrol the neighborhoods and report suspicious. The numbers of arsons have significantly dropped, with 95 in 2013. The official numbers for 2014 are still pending, but at the time that this was written, it was only at 28.

Ideally, it would be great if people wouldn’t try to burn down the city, but the fact that efforts are being made is a sign of progress. I noticed more police on the streets tonight and didn’t feel any less safe than I normally do walking down the street to my car. Detroit’s turning around, and maybe we won’t be the face of the mischief, vandalism and arson that happens the night before Halloween anymore.

View the original post at Challenge Detroit‘s blog.

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