Crime as a force for social control

White flight. The term denotes racism, as it means that white people run away from black people.

White flight is the sociologic and demographic term denoting a trend wherein whites flee urban communities as the minority population increases, and move to other places like commuter towns.
The loaded term carries with it the implication that white people are not only running away from black people, but they are doing so because of their race.

At least, that's the Narrative.

A recent Wall Street Journal article -- titled "Black Flight Hits Detroit" -- documents something very disturbing to the narrative.

Middle class black people are deserting Detroit in record numbers. And obviously, they are not leaving because of the racial demographics of Detroit; they are leaving because of crime. The situation has become so hopeless that calling the police is a waste of time, bars and burglar alarms are useless, and even tough watchdogs get killed:

DETROIT--This shrinking city needs to hang on to people like Johnette Barham: taxpaying, middle-class professionals who invest in local real estate, work and play downtown, and make their home here.

Ms. Barham just left. And she's not coming back.

In seven years as a homeowner in Detroit, she endured more than 10 burglaries and break-ins at her house and a nearby rental property she owned. Still, she defied friends' pleas to leave as she fortified her home with locks, bars, alarms and a dog.

Then, a week before Christmas, someone torched the house and destroyed almost everything she owned.

In March, police arrested a suspect in connection with the case, someone who turned out to be remarkably easy to find. For Ms. Barham, the arrest came one crime too late. "I was constantly being targeted in a way I couldn't predict, in a way that couldn't be controlled by the police," she says. "I couldn't take it anymore."

It's a real horror story, and I admire the woman's perseverance.

One of her biggest strategic "mistakes" was in having a job which required her to leave her home. This allowed the neighborhood criminals to plan their invasions at their leisure:

As a single woman with a predictable schedule, Ms. Barham was an easy target for theft. There was one at the house even before she moved in, she recalls, in which a contractor she hired lost his tools. "I was just thinking, 'Oh, it's a vacant house, and somebody broke in and stole some tools,'" she recalls. "'That happens sometimes.'"

But the break-ins would become routine. One evening in February 2004, she returned home to find that her back door was busted in, and several rooms had been ransacked. Mr. McCune helped her pay a company to board up the door with plywood.

On the occasion of one of the invasions, she called 911 and the police actually did arrive -- over three hours later. So she had an alarm installed, but the thieves simply ripped the alarm from the wall!
On July 17, 2005, Ms. Barham returned home around 1:30 in the morning to find her front door busted open and what she thought was a robbery in progress. She rushed back to her car to call 911 and waited there for police.

They arrived at 4:41 a.m., according to their report. Missing items included a $1,200 Dell laptop and a $385 money order. The house was dusted for fingerprints, but Ms. Barham says police never followed up with her.

Afterward, Ms. Barham had a monitored alarm system put in. But in a break-in just four months later, the alarm was ripped from the wall.

At that point (if not much earlier), most people would have moved out if they could afford it.

But Barham was persistent enough to do one of the first things I would recommend to anyone in such a situation. Get a dog. And it better be a dog that frightens criminals.

So she got a pit bull mix, and for three years, her home was safe:

By then, Ms. Barham's friends were becoming afraid for her safety. They urged her to move out of the city, as many of them had. "I was telling her as a friend that you need to let the house go and leave the city," says Mr. McCune. "But Johnette grew up in Detroit, and she's very loyal to Detroit."

A neighbor suggested Ms. Barham get a dog, and brought over a pit-bull mix. Ms. Barham led the dog to her backyard and watched as his barking frightened a passing stranger.

"I'll take him,'" she said. She named him Diesel.

With Diesel in the yard and new bars on the windows, her home went untouched for more than three years.

The problem with a dog is that if criminals are watching your house constantly (and know the police won't do anything), they'll just wait till you're gone with the dog. Like most dogs owned by responsible people, at some point it was Diesel's turn to go to the vet:
The relative calm at 1239 Atkinson ended on a snowy Friday in January 2009 when Ms. Barham returned from a trip to the vet with her dog to discover an upstairs rear window broken. Yet another computer and sundry possessions were gone.

Police followed footprints in the snow to a house next door. James Christian, 28, who lived there with his grandmother, had just been released from Wayne County Jail after serving a 90-day sentence for a drug conviction, court records show. He had a reputation as a thief and neighbors had been complaining to police about him for years, says Robert Jeter Sr., whose house across the street had been robbed twice in the previous year and a half.

The grandmother told police that Mr. Christian wasn't home, according to the police report. Police wouldn't question Mr. Christian for a year.

The Detroit Police Department is short about 700 officers, says Warren Evans, appointed police chief in July 2009. The result is he must assign officers to the worst crimes. Homicides have dropped roughly 25% since he took the job.

"The average Detroiter is worrying about home burglaries and auto thefts," not being shot, he says. But homicide numbers were so alarming, "that we decided to take a triage approach."

Petty theft? "I've got nobody to send to that," he said.

Hey, Mr. Police Chief, it's home invasion we're talking about here, not petty theft! And the criminals damn well know that you and your department are not serious, which means they can take their time to strike when they're good and ready. If they're sadistic psychopaths (as these people obviously were), they can take their time and figure out how to do things like burn your dog to death:
Even after all the burglaries, Ms. Barham says, she was determined to stay. Then came a burglary in October 2009, the first while Diesel was home.

After that, Ms. Barham couldn't sleep at night. She made sure Diesel slept next to her bed. She hid her valuables. She replaced locks and two doors.

On Dec. 17, Mr. McLaughlin, her neighbor, had lit a cigarette and was warming up his car when he peered across the street at Ms. Barham's house and noticed flames behind the living-room curtain. He ran back inside and called 911. Another neighbor phoned Ms. Barham at work.

When she arrived at the house, five fire trucks were there. Feeling almost ashamed to face her neighbors, she watched from her car as her home burned. The firefighters found Diesel and her cat, Tinker, upstairs in her bedroom, dead.

That did it. She moved out of Detroit for good. With the Wall Street Journal breathing down their neck and requesting records, the police finally arrested the guy next door, and maybe he'll get another 90 day sentence. Then he can get out and find new people to terrorize.

After all, crime is a way of controlling people.


If only there were a way to sic the animal rights activists on the sadistic criminal for what he did to the poor dog and the cat!

(Hey, at least crimes against animals are taken seriously....)

posted by Eric on 06.09.10 at 02:10 PM


They should evacuate the city and burn it.

I'm considering buying some supplies from a recommended vendor. Normally this would be uneventful but when I check the company is based in Detroit. Although they claim to have been in business since 1937, I still hesitate to provide my credit card due to their location and its reputation.

JKB   ·  June 9, 2010 2:46 PM

Middle-class black flight is nothing new. I remember reading something from Thomas Sowell about the phenomenon happening as far back as the late 1800s with the influx of southern blacks into northern cities. The northern blacks apparently found the southerners uncouth and rough.

Crawdad   ·  June 9, 2010 6:09 PM
Every morning Vivian King drives her granddaughter past her neighborhood Dallas ISD school on the five-mile route to her charter school.

Both are "recognized" public schools, but King believes the A.W. Brown-Fellowship Leadership Academy offers her granddaughter, 6-year-old Vivica Griffin, a better education.

"We didn't want her to go to the schools around here," King said.

King's decision makes her part of a historic shift in Dallas ISD: the number of black children attending DISD schools has reached its lowest point since 1965.

The movement mirrors, on a smaller scale, massive white flight from the district in the 1970s.


newrouter   ·  June 9, 2010 6:58 PM

Those relocating to the suburbs are simply individuals deciding what's best for themselves--you know, liberty, all that.

This is where the social reformer fails in his duties as a citizen: when he doesn't like the results of liberty--you know, culture--he seeks to hem in the people with government.

I call that intolerance. It's a defining characteristic of all leftists.

Brett   ·  June 10, 2010 8:47 AM

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