Is this a gang war? And, if so, what are we going to do about it, Ypsilanti?

Last night, on my radio show, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Benjamin Edmondson, Ypsilanti’s new superintendent of schools. Before getting into the specifics of his plan to reinvent the district, we discussed how his day had begun. Prior to joining me, Edmonson had attended a “Stop the Violence” march. And, just before that, he’d attended the funeral of Keandre Duff, who was shot in the head and killed just after midnight on the morning of July 12 at a block party on Brooks Street, between Watling and Jefferson. What I didn’t know, as I was sitting down with Edmondson, was that, only a few hours earlier, five shots had been fired from a vehicle on Cross Street, just a short walk from where we were discussing his vision for the future of public education in Ypsilanti.

Hopefully, in a few days, when the podcast of the show is available, you’ll listen to our conversation, in which Edmondson talks at some length about his intention to launch a district-wide mentorship initiative meant primarily to put positive, stable role models in front of Ypsilanti’s male students. In the meantime, though, here’s a message Edmondson sent out through the Ypsi Community Schools Facebook page yesterday announcing a major component of that initiative called Man Up or Kid Down. It begins with the names of the last two young men murdered in Ypsilanti.

MAN UP OR KID DOWN

Keon Washington. June 27, 2014.

Keandre Duff. July 12, 2015.

Lives lost. Either by death or by prison, lives cut tragically short by senseless violence are a failure of our society.

The statistics can continue to be ignored. Our community can passively await another tragedy. Another life lost. Another lost contribution to the future of our society. Another opportunity ignored.

Man Up or Kid Down.

We invite you to step forward, let your presence be known, and grow this community initiative created by the partnership of Ypsilanti Community Schools and Gold Standard Advocates, LLC.

Man Up or Kid Down strives to engage, incite and provoke men in the community to take action to mentor and lead our youth.

The alternative to “man up” is “kid down” – young men following a path of criminal behavior committing suicide to homicide, while leaving trails of victims behind. These senseless tragedies shape the lives of our youth, our community, and the future of our society. Left without action, the shape of our future society is bleak.

Men, our families and communities vividly reflect each and every day the evidence of non-action. We have the power to re-shape these reflections through action. We have seen the positive impact when we engage ourselves in the lives of our youth. We must build on this momentum by enlisting more in our community to serve as the strong role models our young men need to survive. We must ACT NOW!

All men regardless of age, education, employment, or race can make a difference. The ONLY requirement is that you are committed to serving youth, families and our community.

Step forward and make your presence known. Join us today reshaping our community, one life at a time. Contact us at: manup@ycschools.us.

Dr. Benjamin P. Edmondson
Superintendent, Ypsilanti Community Schools

Mr. Jason Gold
President, Gold Standard Advocates, LLC

While I didn’t use the phrase “gang war” with Edmondson, it’s difficult, I think, to look objectively at the facts and see how it could be anything else than a war between rival cliques, or gangs. Keandre Duff, the young many who was shot and killed last week, was a suspect in the murder last summer of 17-year-old Keon Washington, who was shot and killed at a house party on Madison Street. While charges were eventually dropped against Duff, I don’t suspect it was a coincidence that he was murdered shortly after his release from jail, where he’d served 297 days for drug charges unrelated to the murder. Furthermore, it’s been mentioned in the press that Duff had an affiliation with a group called Rakk Life, while Washington was associated with a rival group known as BOH. Given this, it would seem likely, at least to me, that Duff was murdered in retaliation for the killing of Washington, and that yesterday’s attempted murder of another young man on Cross Street was in retaliation for the murder of Duff. While I suppose we should be happy that a 17-year-old is presently in custody for yesterday’s shooting, one suspects this may not be the end of it.

I wish I had more to report, but, as of right now, that’s all I know. I have emails in to both Mayor Edmonds and Police Chief DeGiusti, asking what’s being done to change the trajectory that we’re on. Hopefully, I’ll hear from both of them soon. And, when I do, I’ll let you know. In the meantime, here’s hoping that we all stay safe.

One last thing… I wanted to share the following clip from Kyle Feldscher’s MLive article last year about the death of Keon Washington.

Jamaica Washington lived in fear of this moment for the last three years, only to see it become a reality: Keon Washington, her son, dead before he could graduate high school.

Jamaica Washington, of Ypsilanti Township, described 17-year-old Keon as a colorful, athletic boy with a free spirit but not without troubles. From the time he entered school as a kindergartener until the eighth grade, he was a straight A student, she said.

But, Keon started disobeying her when he got to high school. She tried to stem the tide, she said, reaching out to the community and local police to see if anyone could help her — a single mom with two other children — get her son on the right track. She even sent him to Detroit to live with his grandmother.

But, she couldn’t keep him out of Ypsilanti where his troubles started. And, on Saturday, she had to go identify Keon’s body after he was fatally shot following an argument outside a house party in the 500 block of Madison Street…

I agree with Superintendent Edmonson when he said yesterday, “We have failed our young people.” The question is, what are we, as a community going to do about it? Will people step up to participate in Man Up or Kid Down? Will someone in the community attempt to broker a peace agreement between these factions of young men? Will we finally realize as a state that now is the time to invest more in our schools, and not less? Will we put programs in place so that mothers like Jamaica Washington aren’t left on their own when they seek out help? And, perhaps most importantly, will we give our young people reason to be optimistic about their prospects for the future? I know other communities have dealt with things like this in the past, but this is new for me. If you have knowledge of things that have worked elsewhere, please leave a comment. I think I speak for everyone here in Ypsi when I say that we’d appreciate it.

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[The above image, taken at yesterday’s Stop the Violence march, comes courtesy of the Ypsilanti Progress Administration.]

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42 Comments

  1. Ted
    Posted July 19, 2015 at 11:58 pm | Permalink

    The Rakk Life Youtube page will give you a pretty good idea of what we are up against.

  2. James Williams
    Posted July 20, 2015 at 4:12 am | Permalink

    I think the problem is made more difficult because the black youth in Ypsi realize that their reward for working hard and staying out of trouble is a working-poor job that can disappear at any moment and having to deal with being managed for the rest of their life.

  3. Rad
    Posted July 20, 2015 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    Radical Washtenaw (RAW) should be involved in this conversation as well.

  4. josh
    Posted July 20, 2015 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    I am not sure I would call two groups of idiots “gangs”. Just a bunch of little boys pretending to be gangsters, but stupid can kill.

    James is right. The gangster fantasy is more appealing than the retail reality.

  5. XXX
    Posted July 20, 2015 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss this a kids just pretending to be gangsters. While that may be true, people are dead. Regardless of whether you see Rakk Life and BOH as credible gangs, they’re shooting up our city and people are dying.

  6. Dan
    Posted July 20, 2015 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    My understanding is that the 2 groups arent exactly gangs, more of “music” collaborators. However, both groups include several real gang members

    regardless of what you call them, they are certainly not using children’s toys when they shoot up the city.

    You can pretty easily find several of their facebook and instagram accounts. They arent exactly hiding the fact that these shootings are retaliation

  7. Posted July 20, 2015 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    I heard a story on NPR last night where one guest said that police cannot solve the problem of violence. Only the community can. I believe that is true and I am ready to do my part.

  8. Posted July 20, 2015 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    I should also say that I have a 17 year old at YNT who knew Keon and heard about the shooting of Keandre via SnapChat before it hit the news. We can’t leave the kids out of solving the problem.

  9. Posted July 20, 2015 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    The part of the article that really touched me was about Jamaica Washington and how she looked for support. I wonder if there is a role for us mothers in the community to come together to support mothers of children who are either already involved in gang life or in danger of becoming involved. Here’s what I DON’T MEAN: a bunch of white mothers telling mothers of color how to better parent. What I DO MEAN: mothers supporting one another to save the lives of our children.

  10. Frosted Flakes
    Posted July 20, 2015 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    I agree that a sense of hope for the future is the key to help prevent this type of stuff from happening. Most would probably disagree with me, but kids are being programmed to be needlessly pessimistic about their futures’… My heart goes out to the families and friends…Sad…

  11. Jesse Tack
    Posted July 20, 2015 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    This is a tragedy. Something needs to be done. We can either be a destructive organism or a beneficial one, our choice. Our current cultural paradigm is that of destruction, scarcity, war, violence, oppression, etc. We clearly need a new cultural paradigm to reverse those trends. The new cultural paradigm must be based on holistic understanding, creation, abundance, peace, dialog, care for all.

    This series of shootings is not in isolation from all the problems that we currently face. In the new paradigm that we ultimately need to manifest, we need to see problems as holistic, not silo-ed.

    Youth hopelessness is connected to elder isolation is connected to food security issues is connected to race is connected to oil is connected to debt. It is all connected and the solution must be holistically integrated connections across all disciple’s and social strata.

    Are folks ready to take back their own power? Are people ready to build the world they want and by all rights, is theirs to create? Are people ready to say no to the old system and build the new?

    Short of that, IMO, it’s all band-aids on mortal wounds.

    I have written a Citizen’s Empowerment Manual that provides a decent road map towards that new paradigm and am happy to share. But the question is are people ready to galvanize around something positive, whether mine or somebody else’s? Or will the tidal wave of consumer culture wash away our potential power?

  12. J.T. Garfield
    Posted July 20, 2015 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    This is worrisome to me. You have emotional teens and young adults taking some sort of justice in to their own hands. Kids don’t always think things through and if this keeps up, sooner or later there’s going to be a stray bullet hitting a passerby. I am clueless as to what we could do as a community to stop this. Would community intervention work? If so, what are ways the community could help?

    I think the mentoring program you mention in your article is a great idea to stop these things before they start, but it seems right now we’re in a domino effect of violence. How do we reach out to the ones already committing the violence and show them it’s not the way?

    I remember hearing about a program in Detroit their police department had. I believe it was a unit dedicated to gathering information about gangs. I can’t remember if that was a successful effort or not.

  13. D'Real
    Posted July 20, 2015 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    The Community Policing Action Council (CoPac), the Law Enforcement Citizens Advisory Board (LECAB), and the Ypsilanti Citizen Police Academy (YCPA), are ineffective community intervention resources.

    J.T., the Asbury Park community mobilized last year to stop gun violence after spike in Asbury Park killings (in New Jersey). “Through a collaborative effort with clergy members, residents, officials, non-profit organizations, the police department and other groups, Asbury Park CAN aimed at developing solutions to lower the violent crime rate in the 1.6-square-mile city.”

    The Asbury Park CAN article (link below) is a great example of a small community of concerned citizens working together to counteract gun violence. The Asbury Park CAN campaign also highlights how difficult it is to sustain community-based and lead public safety task force.

    http://www.nj.com/monmouth/index.ssf/2014/02/community_working_toward_stopping_violence_in_asbury_park.html

  14. Steve P.
    Posted July 20, 2015 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    Seems like yet another stark illustration of the disparity of our regional supports and resources for our area youth looking like an uneven see saw: with all the weight on the westside of the village (Neutral Zone, Ozone House, A2 Parks and Rec and Ed…) with virtually nothing on the eastside of the village (W. Willow, Southside, Macarthur Blvd, Parkridge etc. etc.). Does Ypsi even have a viable Boys and Girls Club anymore? (I know the old site is up for auction and has been closed for many years…). It seems like well-placed community activists like the excellent Derrick Jackson at WCSO and the folks at Corner Health are working double triple time in Ypsi…and fighting a lonely fight, while the progressives in Ann Arbor flitter around afternoons on bankers hours with drum sequencers, theremins and fine art graffiti classes at Neutral Zone and the AADL. If there’s every an example of economic disparity in our region, these issues with youth bring them to fore with, to quote the old Kozol line, “savage inequality”.

  15. Jay Steichmann
    Posted July 20, 2015 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    Better Late Than Never: BLTN, my new proposed l33t sp34k. I wish Dr. Edmondson had been supt. when the grant from Ed.Gov through EMU ran out to keep Young People’s Project going in Ypsi schools. YPP is a peer-to-peer math skills program that has the extra benefit of incorporating community organizing and social justice skills/habits as well. No, it wouldn’t/won’t save all the youth. But for every pebble in the pond…I won’t go into all the details here, but YPP is run/organized by Omo Moses, son of civil rights activist and Harvard prof Robert Moses, who founded the Algebra Project, which has done the same thing IN schools as YPP aims to do extracurricularly. We ran YPP at Arrowwood Hills Community Center for two years until we got AAPS approval to run it out of Huron High (I think that approval lasted only one year, lost in the shifting priorities of new superintendents). Each of our high school participants went on to further education, although at the start of the program only two were sure they were. The best prevention is early education, and the YPP has college students mentor the high school students who in turn mentor middle school students. Another acquaintence, Robert Saxon, conceived of and ran a program called Imhotep, designed to get POC interested in the profession of architecture, where only 2% of the AIA registered architects are people of color. Bob ran this for a couple of years with very limited funding, and very low external community support. These programs need to be supported by more than the target (no aspersions intended) communities. Of course, their parents would be key to be involved, but often are working multiple jobs just to keep slightly behind. So, if not these programs, similar ones. Get them going, or get them going again.

  16. Posted July 21, 2015 at 1:00 am | Permalink

    “I am clueless as to what we could do as a community to stop this. Would community intervention work? If so, what are ways the community could help?”

    I don’t live in Ypsi, but I’ve never gotten a sense that there is a “community” there. There are some small groups of people with common interests. but in the end, there are many Ypsis..

    This site is kind of indicative of that phenomenon. While I applaud Mark’s obvious dedication to Ypsi, he (without any nefarious intent) speaks only to a tiny, tiny subset of Ypsilanti. I’m still waiting, for example, for the feature on the hair braiding places on Michigan Ave.

    Perhaps unrelated, but I see this problem a lot where I’m living now. Affluent, educated and relatively powerful people like to talk about the “community,” glossing over the glaring problems of infighting, mutual distrust and disinterest. Basically, the person pushing the idea of “community” are, in fact, merely vying for power and influence over less powerful and often marginalized people. That’s, at least, the cynical view.

    There is nothing you can do “as a community” about youth violence. No part of the precipitous drop in youth violence in the US in the past two decades had anything to do with “communities.” In fact, the US is far more fractured than it has ever been. Despite that, the US is a safer place.

    I will stop rambling now.

  17. Posted July 21, 2015 at 1:49 am | Permalink

    Great blog! Here is something they did in Richmond California to fix a serious crime problem: http://www.thenation.com/article/how-one-california-city-began-bringing-its-murder-rate-down-without-cops/

    I think we need to realize that we have been oppressing certain groups of people for so many centuries or millenia that now it is time to give back. let’s all get together donations of anything good we don’t need, and drive it to the most needy communities nearby, like apartment complexes that we have fenced in, or mobile home parks or whereever people are struggling. Just take it there for free…. People helping people. The way it should be!

  18. Brainless
    Posted July 21, 2015 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    “…described 17-year-old Keon as a colorful, athletic boy with a free spirit but not without troubles.”

    I’d suggest maybe the first step would be to deprogram this denial. I’ve known “free-spirits”. We’re talking bad decisions on dreadlocks and maybe a regretful tattoo. None of them ever was involved in murder or even lesser violence in any way.

    It’s like the article I read recently about parents of fat kids. Apparently, it’s a thing now for parents to leave their doctor in a huff and get a new one if they suggest that their kid is fat.

  19. Laura Bien
    Posted July 21, 2015 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    Perhaps President Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” program can provide a useful framework for forming a group similar to the Asbury Park C.A.N. Thus far over 200 community leaders in 43 states have participated in the program. The MBK program might be useful in that it 1. offers a plan for creating an effective community group and a six-point set of goals 2. publishes best-practices research that can be of use to MBK communities and 3. offers a way to be part of a larger effort, which can help motivate participants and provide useful info from and networking with other MBK communities.

    MBK communities in MI are: Flint, Lansing, Detroit, Southfield, Buena Vista, Redford Township, and the Sault St. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians.

    https://www.whitehouse.gov/my-brothers-keeper

  20. Curious
    Posted July 21, 2015 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    Peter, are you suggesting that the things Mark writes about here are not of interest to black Ypsilantians, and that they would rather read about hair braiding shops than teen violence and economic inequality?

  21. kjc
    Posted July 21, 2015 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    “I’d suggest maybe the first step would be to deprogram this denial. I’ve known “free-spirits”. We’re talking bad decisions on dreadlocks and maybe a regretful tattoo. None of them ever was involved in murder or even lesser violence in any way.”

    meh. big world out there.

  22. Posted July 21, 2015 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    “Peter, are you suggesting that the things Mark writes about here are not of interest to black Ypsilantians, and that they would rather read about hair braiding shops than teen violence and economic inequality?”

    No, I am not. I am suggesting that Mark is only interested in one Ypsilanti. He is free to do that since it is a personal blog not a newspaper. I understand why he doesn’t feature things like the hair braiding shops, but I wanted to illustrate the point that the readership here is quite myopic and that talk of a “community” effectively shuts out large swathes of Ypsilanti’s populace.

    Maybe that is inevitable.

  23. Curious
    Posted July 21, 2015 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    Peter, in the past week, Mark has written about the “Man Up or Kid Down” initiative in Ypsi public schools, started a conversation about a bloody teen battle that has been raging in our community, and called attention to the disparity of opportunities our kids have in comparison to those Ann Arbor. How can you say he is only interested in “one” Ypsilanti? You have this idea that he only writes about hipster artists and that is not born out by the facts. Also, I find it offensive that you would say black people would be interested in his site if he were to write about hair braiding, as they black people do not care about the safety and education of their children.

  24. Andrew Maniotes
    Posted July 21, 2015 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    I just sent an email. I will check them out and if it’s as good as it seems, I will suggest EMU faculty (and hopefully administration) I know to get involved.

    Lots of people seem interested here, so let’s revisit that last line of the letter: “Step forward and make your presence known. Join us today reshaping our community, one life at a time. Contact us at: manup@ycschools.us

  25. Jay Steichmann
    Posted July 21, 2015 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    Another note, and along the lines of not reinventing what has already been invented. Around 2008, the principles and concerned members of a number of Washtenaw County community agencies wanted to find a better way to coordinate efforts so that instead of fighting competitively for a dwindling amount of government and social agency foundation funding, they could work together with the aim of improving the lives of young people and their families in ALL of Washtenaw County. I am not writing to promote this group–Washtenaw Alliance for Children & Youth or WACY (disclosure: I was a participating member early on and still strongly believe in their aims & methods) but to provide a link to the agencies and groups that make up the backbone of WACY. We counted–there are about 200 agencies that in some way provide for the education, feeding, clothing, social activities, health and protection of children, youth, and their families in Washtenaw. The following link provides links to 30 of these agencies. Find one that appeals to your interests, and ask them how you can help. One regret of the diminished funding is that out of the founding groups of WACY, we lost C.O.P.E., the Center for Occupational and Personalized Education, which closed in 2012 after 41 years of providing high school and trades education for youth who had been expelled from Washtenaw County public schools. Anyway, the link to the links: http://www.wacy-washtenaw.org/our-members

  26. Posted July 21, 2015 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    “You have this idea that he only writes about hipster artists and that is not born out by the facts. Also, I find it offensive that you would say black people would be interested in his site if he were to write about hair braiding, as they black people do not care about the safety and education of their children.”

    I did not say anything about black people nor black readership at all. That was you. I never used the word “black.”

    I did not say that Mark exclusively writes about hipster artists. I said that Mark writes about things that he is interested in and this is necessarily limited in scope since this is a personal blog and not a news source.

    When I asked him to write about the hair braiders, he told me, “they do not contribute to the community” a comment I found quite odd (and to be fair, was probably simply poorly thought out). I didn’t say anything at the time, but I thought to myself, “No Mark, they just don’t contribute to YOUR community.”

    For the record, I am not maligning Mark. I merely intended to say that the “Ypsilanti community” as it is often presented here, is quite misleading. When I hear people on this site talk about the “community.” I bristle somewhat because I that the word contains far too many assumptions.

  27. Posted July 21, 2015 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    And further, the hair braiders, while certainly serving an African-American clientele, are overwhelmingly immigrants from West Africa.

    It is unlikely that doing a feature on hair braiders from Togo would increase African-American readership but I would be excited about it, given that my work is in Africa. Perhaps one day, I will just do it myself. To Mark’s credit, he did offer me air time for it.

    Honestly, I find the injection of race into the discussion to be far more offensive that whatever this person believed I was saying. But then, America has become a very strange place as of late.

  28. Frosted Flakes
    Posted July 21, 2015 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    Hair braiding is rooted in a long artistic tradition. Several years ago, Mark failed to recognize the art and the tradition of hair braiding, not because he does not like art, and not because he is racist, but because he has a limited understanding of the many communities, as we all do. I understood Peter’s uncontroversial point, but then again, I remembered the “hair braiding” controversy on mm.com from a few years ago.

  29. Parent Out Here
    Posted July 21, 2015 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for writing about this topic. I wonder why it has taken so long for people to even notice the violence that has been going on way before these incidents? Not long after I moved to the township there were many arrests stemming from gang activity on Calder. Over the years I have watched kids from the neighborhood die from violence, go to jail or become teen parents. Negative changes really start to be prominent in middle school and that seems to be the period where kids have less support. I am hopeful Dr. Edmondson can bring both change and hope back to this community.

    My child went to school with Keon and he was not the bad kid the media portrayed him to be. However it is very difficult for teens out here to not get sucked into negative things.

    Yes, the community should step in and start mentoring and volunteering their time and yes, parents do need to take some responsibility in what they are modeling. There should also be someplace to turn to before our kids reach the criminal system or wind up dead as well.

    I don’t live in one of the hip Ypsi neighborhoods or wear cute little t-shirts spouting Hipsilanti, but I do my part to contribute to this community and I have every right to express disdain about conditions here without being guilt tripped about my honesty. I’m glad people are finding 48197 and 48198 cool places to live but sometimes it seems they really have their heads in the sand about the struggles out here.

    I would also like to suggest that parents who removed their kids from Ypsi schools to make the decision to bring them back. We all want great education for our children, but did anyone stop to think that we are only exacerbating the problem by abandoning the schools? What if the parents brought their kids back and devoted all that energy into our community schools? I brought my child back. Sometimes I’m frustrated about it, but I’m working hard to make it work.

  30. Posted July 21, 2015 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    While I appreciate your attempt to explain the comment, Pete, I do think that this site speaks to a more broad community that you seem to think. Granted, I don’t know that a lot of my readership lives on the south side, but there are some, and I’d like to think they get some value from it, even though I haven’t ever written about a hair braiding shop… As for the quote you attribute to me, I’m afraid you misunderstood. I never said that, “(hair braiding shops) do not contribute to the community.” I’m sure they contribute to the fabric of our community. If I remember correctly, we were talking about tax revenues and the impending bankruptcy of Ypsilanti. In that context, no, they don’t contribute very much to our tax base.

    For what it’s worth, I have hosted events in the past which have featured black-owned businesses like Puffer Reds and Jacobsen Daniels Associates, both of which are great downtown assets that deserve more attention.

    One last thing, the last time I had a talk show, we attempted to interview people at one of our local hair braiding places and they had no interest in being interviewed.

    I really don’t know why this is an issue, as we’re discussing teen violence, but there it is… the explanation as to why I’ve never interviewed a hair braider.

  31. Posted July 21, 2015 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for joining the conversation, Parent Out Here. I hope you stick around here and continue to participate.

  32. Posted July 21, 2015 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    And thank you, everyone else, for your comments and your links. It looks like I have a lot of reading to do.

  33. Posted July 21, 2015 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

    So one has to contribute to the tax base of Ypsi to be featured on Mark Maynard. com?

    That seems even stranger that simply “not contributing.” I know Mark and don’t think that he puts a dollar value on what he features, so I think the comment even odder now.

    I don’t care that Mark doesn’t feature the hair braiders, who just happen to be of African continental origin, an aspect which had nothing to do with my point that there is no single Ypsilanti “community.”

    My point may be somewhat lofty, but I think that speaking of any “community” necessarily introduces exclusion. Those referring to a “community” are defining its parameters and limitations, without the input of others, particularly those in the city that the speakers don’t like.

    Move out of discussing the “community” and start talking about the town., which includes everyone.

  34. Posted July 22, 2015 at 6:30 am | Permalink

    Pete, if you really think that an interview with a hair braider would make this site of mine more relevant in the wider community, then I will try again. Perhaps, when you return to the US, we could work on it together.

  35. Kjc
    Posted July 22, 2015 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    FF feel free to keep crowing about personal responsibility to whatever end. We have the largest prison population in the world. Holding individuals accountable is not the missing piece in our society.

  36. Frosted Flakes
    Posted July 22, 2015 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    Appropriate emphasis on the role of personal choice in bad behavior is not in any way synonymous with a call for a harsher system of penalties.

  37. Posted July 22, 2015 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    “Pete, if you really think that an interview with a hair braider would make this site of mine more relevant in the wider community, then I will try again. Perhaps, when you return to the US, we could work on it together.”

    Again, I was not criticizing your reluctance to write a feature on hair braiders or whatever other facet of Ypsilanti you choose not to write about. This is a personal blog, not a news source so it is expected that you will, in fact, only write about things that interest you. There is nothing wrong with that.

    I also wasn’t suggesting that doing a feature on hair braiders would increase your readership. I don’t know where that is coming from.

    I am saying that there are many Ypsis, not all of which are of interest to the author and the readership of this blog. As another comment stated, this should be an uncontroversial point. I am also saying that some people throw around the word “community” without considering that the word is self serving and exclusive.

    I would be happy to co write a feature on the hair braiders. It could be kind of fun to do.

  38. Priorities
    Posted July 22, 2015 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    While we were discussing teen violence, this was posted on the “I Am Ypsi” page.

    “We need to see more concern to stop the violence of the police, the violence of wrongful detention, the violence of intimidation and persecution, and the violence of treating people as guilty until proven innocent.”

    Should less attention be given to teen violence? Is our main problem violent officers?

  39. Demetrius
    Posted July 22, 2015 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    @ Priorities

    I resent the implication that these are “either-or,” and that we must “choose” which ones are a priority.

    There is no excuse for any of the things you mention, nor is there any excuse for gang violence in our community. In fact, they are probably related …

  40. Posted July 22, 2015 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

    Does anyone know who Jason Gold and Gold Standard Advocates are?

  41. Posted July 22, 2015 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

    I looked him up the other day, Ruth, and found an announcement of his having been appointed by Snyder to the Early Childhood Investment Corp. Here’s a clip.

    Gold is a law enforcement officer in Ann Arbor where he provides mentoring and legal education accessibility. He is also the founder of Gold Standard Advocates, a character education program for grades K-12. Gold served as the Ann Arbor Public Schools liaison officer and was an assistant varsity football coach for Ann Arbor Pioneer and Gabriel Richard high schools. Gold earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and a master’s degree in organizational leadership administration from Concordia University. He fills the vacancy created by the resignation of Jeanne Englehart.

    http://www.michigan.gov/snyder/0,4668,7-277-57577-346965–,00.html

  42. facebook stalker
    Posted July 23, 2015 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    Ypsilovin: “This temporary escalation IS NOT a doomsday scenario. I’ve been around long enough to remember what REAL GANG activity looked like in Ypsi. Remember the “Calder Street Crips” & “South Side Bloods”? If you don’t, I do. I remember when there were gang members and drug dealers on every corner on the South Side & in West Willow. Every car that went down the street had 3-4 dealers running to make that sale. I remember when they shot 5 Deputies in West Willow Park. That stuff isn’t happening anymore. This is nothing compared to what was going on in the 90’s. All we have here is two small groups (not gangs)shooting at each other, nothing more & nothing less. It won’t be long before police put an end to all this.”

5 Trackbacks

  1. […] « Is this a gang war? And, if so, what are we going to do about it, Ypsilanti? […]

  2. […] the press conference called by the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department on the subject of gang violence in Ypsilanti. What follow are my rough notes. If, after reading through them, you find yourself wanting more, […]

  3. […] positive direction, he mentioned, among other things, an ambitious new mentorship initiative called Man Up or Kid Down, through which he’s hoping to have every Ypsilanti student in middle school and high school […]

  4. […] Whether or not you think the term “gang” is appropriate in this instance, it seems clear that this is essentially a war between two groups of young men; one called Rakk Life, and the other called Finesse Gang. [Duff, it would seem, had an affiliation […]

  5. […] Whether or not you think the term “gang” is appropriate in this instance, it seems clear that this is essentially a war between two groups of young men; one called Rakk Life, and the other called Finesse Gang. [Duff, it would seem, had an affiliation […]

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