As you know, I have a long time background in Michigan politics predating my writing of the Hidden Dangers of the Rainbow. I am acutely aware of the problems and sufferings of many Detroiters. Ron Seigel, a local political reporter and myself have sometimes discussed starting a separate blogspot to discuss Michigan governmental and political developments. Gwendolyn Mingo has been a guest on my radio program from time to time. She suffered immensely on a financial and personal level to seek honesty and fairness for her Detroit neighborhood that was intentionally neglected and then declared "blighted" by Detroit political and business officials in order to cheaply gain land for wealthy developers. I personally witnessed unbelievable tactics being leveled against Gwendolyn Mingo. Gwen was a highly respected professional and her husband was a high school principal. Her husband died an untimely death occasioned in no small part by stress over vicious maneuvers by those coveting a la Queen Jezebel and King Ahab coveting to take Nabob's vineyard. Ron Seigel has written me passionately to express his perspective on this and I thought I would be sharing it with you. Human greed being what it is, it can happen anywhere, especially as these wicked days advance.
The Very Worst Scandal in Detroit
By Ron Seigel
The biggest scandal in Detroit does not involve any of the scandals which made the national headlines, but something few in the media have paid any attention to. It involves atrocities against human rights which Americans have condemned in other countries. For over a generation the local governments in Detroit and many other American cities have forcibly expelled people from their homes, their neighborhoods and their communities. In Stalinist Russia this was done in the name of Communist Collectivism. In South Africa this was done in the name of Apartheid. In American cities, it is done in the name of “gentrification,” a sociological term which means removing people with less money in order to attract more affluent ones. While this is supposed to be done on the basis of income, it has often been done on the basis of race. Barbara Rose Collins, who heads the Detroit City Council’s committee dealing with development, publicly declared, “Urban renewal is Black removal.” Several years ago attorneys, who represented residents in Detroit’s Brush Park area, produced in court official city documents revealing the city was displacing African Americans in the area, while allowing Caucasians to stay. Gentrification has legally operated largely through the program of Urban renewal. Under urban renewal policies city government has been forcing residents to sell their homes. Once the government gets their land, it sells the land to developers, who build new houses at prices the residents cannot afford. On paper, the cities are legally obliged to relocate these residents into comparable housing as good or better than the ones they lost. However, the late Detroit City Council President Maryann Mahaffey declared that there was not enough housing in the city that they could afford. As a result, government has actually been creating homelessness. One woman, Jackie Green said, “We became homeless for a long time. You had to sleep here and there in empty houses.” The experience endangered her life and ruined her health.
In discussing urban renewal, Father Norman Thomas of Detroit’s Sacred Heart Church declared, “This was the most terrible thing I have ever seen.” In the 1960s and 1970s residents of urban renewal areas were able to lobby their elected representatives on the city council to get some new housing built for them. However, last year city council members closed the door on this remedy. On July 29, 2008 six members of the city council voted to surrender their power to make decisions on city owned land and transferred their authority over to a land bank. Now whenever they are confronted with the refugees of their gentrification policies, city council members can always stare at the ceiling and piously note that the decision is out of their hands. While lavishing public money on organizations like the Economic Growth Corporation, which serves as lobbyists for big business (and may have An interest in promoting gentrification) the last two previous mayors Impounded all funds for citizen district councils established to represent and protect the rights of individuals and small businesses victimized by this forced expulsion. The citizen organizations, though, are continuing to work on sheer dedication without offices, staff, or compensation. Ironically, while the well funded big business oriented organization is called the Economic Growth Corporation, it is clear that since the time of its creation, the financial state of Detroit has drastically declined.
In many ways the tactics of city officials toward critics of gentrification seem to be frighteningly similar to the practices of apartheid South Africa, the Soviet Union and the Mafia protection racket. Gwendolyn Mingo, who heads both the citizens district council representing Residents of Brush Park urban renewal area and the Coordinating Council For every citizen district council representing urban renewal areas in Detroit, ran into physical dangers after she spoke out against city practices. Last year some doubted it was a complete coincidence that a hit and run Driver just happened to ram Mingo’s car into a lamp post a week after she filed suit against urban renewal policies. In 2005 some doubted that contractors of the Detroit Economic Growth Growth Corporation were simply accident prone when they kept tearing up the gas main in front of Mingo’s house, creating a serious fire hazard for her and her family. Grass roots community leaders throughout Detroit held what they called a “vigil” in front of her house to prevent anything worse from happening. Some stated Mingo was facing harassment. Others considered it an attempted assassination. Ultimately the gas main was fixed, but other things have happened since in what seems to be at least a continuous war of nerves.
I will discuss more of this in future articles. However, it seems clear to me that such things should not be happening in America.