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|If only this were true...|
The sign over 8 Mile Road at the Lodge Freeway is jarring: "Black people are being pushed out of Detroit."
Alana Walker of BLAC magazine writes:
That may or may not be true -- the city still hovers at around an 80% black population, though downtown is a little more white than in recent years -- but the sign is meant to promote indie filmmaker Jason Black’s new film Gentrified – Ethnic Cleansing: American Style, which addresses the effects gentrification in Detroit and other cities has on the black community.
Black’s project raised almost $180,000 through an IndieGoGo campaign [last September], and is hosting screenings in cities around the world including London, Atlanta, Houston and Chicago, where a similar sign went up earlier this month.Strangely, no screening dates are set for Detroit.
On his Facebook page, the filmmaker says of this billboard:
You all have no idea how much of a battle is was to get them to accept this sign. It was three weeks of negotiations and haggling. Maybe I'll go into it one of these days but it was not easy. . . .
We were outright refused in Cleveland, and that sign was much tamer than this one was.White people were pushed out of Detroit in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s, culminating in the election of black supremacist Coleman Young as mayor in 1973. The current state of Detroit in 2017 is a direct reflection of the type of community individual black people can collectively create.
It was still dark at 6 a.m. as Terry Rawlings Sr. guided his cherry-red Acura CL through Southwest Baltimore. He was heading to the gym to lift weights before his shift as a truck driver.
The 51-year-old was on Washington Boulevard near Bayard Street when his car was rear-ended by a Nissan Altima.
He pulled over and stepped out to check the damage. Before him stood a young man about 6 feet tall in a long black jacket, black athletic pants and New Balance sneakers.
"This is my mom's car," he told Rawlings. "I'm going to be in trouble."
Rawlings turned to look at his rear bumper. He saw only slight damage.
"Well, look," he said. "We can handle it."
Then he turned back to the other driver. A semi-automatic handgun stared back.
"Don't make me kill you, bitch," the young man said.
Rawlings had been set up in a bump-and-rob carjacking. The man shoved Rawlings, jumped into his Acura and sped off. An accomplice trailed in the Altima.
Carjackings in Baltimore have more than tripled since 2013, and the number has continued to climb in the first weeks of 2017, at a rate that has far outpaced other auto thefts. Some other U.S. cities are also seeing increases.
Law enforcement officers and analysts se several reasons for the spike. Police in Baltimore note that the overwhelming majority of suspects are young men or juveniles, emboldened by the relative ease of the crime, and a belief that if they're caught, the courts will not treat them harshly.
The crime remains relatively rare in Baltimore — there were 402 carjackings in 2016, or little more than one a day in a city of 620,000. There were 5,161 auto thefts, or more than 14 per day.
Still, those 402 carjackings were a 42 percent jump from the year before — and a 224 percent leap from 2013. Auto thefts climbed 14 percent from 2013 to 2016.
Researchers have long predicted a shift toward carjacking.
"Stealing unoccupied cars has become increasingly difficult in recent years owing to improved anti-theft technology, and doing so can be both time-consuming and dangerous," researchers from the University of Texas-Dallas, Georgia State and University of Missouri-St. Louis wrote in a 2003 study. "The car must be broken into and hot-wired, often to the accompaniment of a blaring alarm."
Baltimore Police Maj. Kimberly Burrus commands the detective unit that investigates robberies in the city.
"I think we saw [more of] a rise in carjacking, as opposed to the stolen autos, because of the auto industry changes," she said.
Threat of violence
Carjacking is less common in Baltimore than many other crimes — the city has averaged about 241 per year since 2013.
And rarely does it result in death. But injuries can occur.
In December, police say, two teens approached then-City Councilwoman Rochelle "Rikki" Spector in a parking garage, threw her to the ground, beat her and stole her car.
Later that month, police say, a 13-year-old boy approached the car of a retired Baltimore police officer, opened the door and flashed a replica handgun. The retired police officer shot the boy in the head. He survived, police said.
In January, police say, a man and an accomplice with a replica handgun assaulted a driver and stole his green 2009 Toyota Corolla.
In carjacking, researchers say, violence or the threat of violence is essential.
"Violent offenders deal in the currency of fear when enacting predatory crime," University of Texas-Dallas sociologist Bruce Jacobs wrote in 2013. "Nowhere is this more true than in carjacking — a menacing form of robbery."
Most carjackers carry a weapon, crime reports show. The majority of carjackings involve multiple suspects, who outnumber drivers. Suspects and victims rarely know each other.
All of those elements drive victims' fear, reducing resistance and decreasing the need for violence.
Carjackers also use "normalcy illusions" to catch victims unaware, Jacobs wrote. Sometimes a simple request for a cigarette or the time of day allows a carjacker to close in on a driver. Carjackers might blitz a driver, coming up on them suddenly with guns in faces.
Burrus called it a crime of opportunity.
"You can be walking away from your car, you could be exiting your car when you're walking toward an establishment," Burrus said. "In some cases, they could pull up next to you."
Burrus said carjackers are mostly young men and teens looking for cars to ride around in at their leisure.
They prefer newer models, she said; Honda Crosstours seem to be a popular choice.
"They tend to be your Hondas and your Acuras and more of your high-ends like your BMWs and your Range Rovers, which are hard to steal if they're parked," she said. "They use them and kind of claim them as their own, believe it or not."
They roam in groups in Baltimore, she said, going on carjacking sprees until every person has his own car. In one case, she said, police recovered several key fobs in a house where suspects were holding onto multiple cars parked nearby.
Police have broken up several groups of carjackers. Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said last month that officers stopped two cars — one that was carjacked and the other stolen — and arrested seven suspects ranging in age from 25 to 12. Regional auto-theft task force officers broke up another suspected carjacking crew that ranged from 20 to 14.
Davis suspects young men are "preying" on teens, coercing or persuading them to carjack vehicles because they know juvenile courts are lenient on offenders. Burrus said some of the juveniles arrested for carjacking last year are back on the street, and detectives think they are committing more carjackings.
"When juveniles are caught, whatever consequences they receive is not enough to deter their behavior," police spokesman Lt. Jarron Jackson said.The article can't even mention 'black youth' as the culprits behind these carjackings, with an inquisitive mind wondering how many of these crimes might have been planned at the Freddie Gray Empowerment Center?