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October 09, 1976 - Image 4

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Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1976-10-09

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lw £t$9anDaily
Eighty-Seven Years of Editorial Freedom
420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Detroit's teen gang problem is

just a crZy

vicious circle

Saturday, October 9, 1976

News Phone: 764-0552

Edited and managed by students at the University of Michigan
Jerry's biggest bumble

Mr. Ford's comment Wednesday
night that "there is no Soviet domi-
nation of Eastern Europe and there
never will be under a Ford Adminis-
tration" comes as quite a shock, and
hopefully was just a slip of the lip.
It seems quite inconsistent that the
President would actually believe
such ,a thing.
The comment has produced a
whirlwind of controversy within the
ethnic community, who the Presi-
dent had hoped to lure away from
the Democrats in November. Lev E.
Dobriansky, of the National Captive
Nations Committee, called Ford's as-
sertion "preposterous" and "shock-
ing."
Mr. Ford, campaigning on the
West Coast Thursday, tried to wiggle
out of his blunder by saying he
"firmly supports the aspirations for
independence of the nations of East-
ern Europe."
It won't work, Jerry. What's said is
said, and it would be better for all
if you admitted the faux pas and
moved on.
What will be interesting is how
Business Staff
Beth Friedman...............Business Manager
Deborah Dreyfuss...........Operations Manager
Kathleen Mulhern ... Assistant Adv. Coordinator
Don Simpson ................. Display Manager
David Harlan . Finance Manager
Dan Blugerman ................ Sales Manager
Pete Peterson .......... Advertising Coordinator
cassie St. Clair.............Circulation Manager
Beth Stratford............Circulation Director

By KEITH RICHBURG
THREE YEARS AGO Detroit citizens
vented their unwillingness to submit
to the "blackjack rule" of law and order
by electing Coleman Young the city's
first Black mayor in a squeaker over
former Police Commissioner John Nich-
ols. Young relied on his "tough East Side
beginnings," his down-to-earth street
lingo, and his promise to disban the
Detroit Police Stress Unit, a decoy
operation comprised of licensed mur-
derers created by Commander James
Bannon.
The city is now under an indefinite
curfew, the higher echelons of the De-
troit Police Department is forever taint-
ed with graft and narcotics investigations
and Newsweek magazine is referring to
the recent crime wave as "nothing since
the 1967 riots." (Oct. 11) The question
facing Mayor Young is whether his poli-
tical future can survive the battle scars,
and for Detroiters, the future of the
city is the issue.
What is being termed the current
"crime wave" is being attributed to the
teen gangs of Detroit's infamous East
Side. The gangs of most dubious dis-
tinction are the B.K.s (Black Killers)
and the Earl Flynns (supposedly ER-
ROLL Flynns, which is in itself a testi-
ment to the literacy of some members).
Jockeying for position, but far less prom-
inent are the Coney-Oneys (a misspel-
ling of CORLEONE, as from the "God-
father," Don Vito Corleone). The East
Side is divided into gang territories, and
scrawled graffiti on vacant tenements
issues the warnings of gang retributions
Keith Richburg ,- an LSA fresh-
man and one of The Daily's editorial
cartoonists - lives on Grand River and
McGraw, in the heart of Detroit's much-
publicized East Side.

for territorial violations (B.K. ACTION!).
GANG VIOLENCE reached its accum-
ulation last August when a Cobo Hall
concert with Average White Band and
Kool and the Gang was "terrorized" by
umbrella yielding youths who ran through
the main floor aisles slitting pockets and
molesting patrons. An enraged Mayor
Young - enraged for having had to cut
short his vacation - returned to slap a
curfew on anyone under eighteen and a
warning on Police Commissioner Philip
Tannian. At the end of the curfew was
tacked a "stop and frisk" clause which
gave the police the arbitrary right to
stop anyone at any time and demand
proper identification.
The new Police Commissioner, Philip
Hart, has had the curfew extended.
Now the city is a boiling pot with the
lid on too tight. Angry citizens are de-
manding the reinstatement of a Stress-
type decoy unit, while civil libertarians
are arguing that the curfew and the
"stop and frisk" ordinance are uncon-
stitutional as they are both selectively
enforced only on the East Side and only
against Black youths.
So what is the answer to Detroit's war
on crime?
IN ORDER TO find the answer, it is
first necessary to find the causes, with
thus necessitates the establishment of a
few basic facts.
First of all, gangs are not new and
unusual to Detroit, or any large metro-
politan city in the world. In fact, gangs
are as old as magic markers and city
bus seats. The city, however, never had
a comprehensive program to deal with
youth gang and juvenile activity like,
say, Chicago or New York. This leads to
the conclusion that the gang problem
isn't really as bad as the crime problem
itself. In fact, youth gangs only constitute
a fraction of Detroit's overall crime sta-
tistics.
Here begins a vicious circle. The more

the media gives attention to the gangs,
the more these gangs become impressed
with seeing their handiwork on the six
o'clock news.pThus, the undue (and some-
times dune) publicity only incites more
gang action.
Also, our use of hyperbole and sensa-
tionalism only adds to the ego of a young
B.K. or Earl Flynn. Hearing themselves
called "menacing," rampaging," and
"terrorizing" will only instill a sense of
accomplishment. Teen gang members
are not Mafia killers or C.I.A. assasins.
THE DETROIT FREE Press (October
3) reported a plan to curve crime institut-
ed by a coalition of Detroit area business
and labor leaders. The plan will sup-
posedly call for the removal of some
judges who keep "letting criminals back
out on the street." Also the plan calls
for meetings and a "better relationship"
between the Mayor and the Police De-
partment.
Why penalize the judge for releasing
a criminal when with Detroit's over-
crowded jails there is literally no place
to lock them up?
. . . Perhaps if we used the spacious
attics of some of those wealthy business-
men...
The Free Press also instituted its own
point-program to curve crime, the points
of which consisted of everything from
minimum sentencing to another youth
home.
The problem with all of these plans
and proposals, discounting the fact that
they reek of rhetoric and would add a
billion dollar price tag onto an already
financially unstable city, is that they all
offer ex-post facto solutions.
THERE IS STILL no comprehensive
city effort to study the causes of crime
and attack the problem at its source.
Unemployment among inner-city youth

is reportedly over one half, and with the
municiple worker lay-offs, recreational
facilities are almost nonexistent.
There are no country clubs for iner-
city youths.
Jobs and recreational facilities are the
answer, from the Federal levels and
Federally funded.
On the local level, there is a desparate
need for a little image-building, and in
the city government, there is a need to
give us an image on which to build.
When the Police Commissioner is fired,
the Number two man is under investiga-
tion, and the next highest up is found
shot to death, a rather unpleasant pic-
ture emerges. On the part of the media
(and the Detroit News is an infamous
example) there is a consistent effort to
play up crime, violence and things that
go bump in the night.
WHEN YOUTHS ROB and molest pa-
trons at a Cobo concert - That's News!
When 24,000 young people enjoy two con-
certs by YES in the same week, without
even a hint of violence, that doesn't
rate a back page!
The $337 million Renaissance Center is
nearing completion for next year, and a
downtown Trolley car a la San Francisco
is running down Washington Blvd. The
foot of Woodward Avenue is being con-
verted into a plaza to host Detroit's
summer ethnic festivals, and a major
renaissance project west of Cobo Hall
on the waterfront is in the making. These
projects cost money, and I can't see
Henry Ford and Max Fisher pouring
billions into a decaying city.
And it doesn't seem logical that the
wealthy endorsers of Detroit's renais-
sance are going to let a gang of teen-
agers destroy over a billion dollars in
revitalization efforts.

Gerald R. Ford

far Jimmy Carter will take the re-
mark. It would be snide of him to
insinuate that he could bring about
some sense of freedom of action in
the Soviet satellite countries during
a Carter Administration. It would
be no less hypocritical of him to pre-
occupy himself and the American
people with the comment and keep
the solid issues from being aired.
TODAY'S STAFF:
News: Mike Norton, Lani Jordan, Tim
Schick, Jim Tobin, Jeff Ristine
Editorial Page: Steve Kursman, Tom
Stevens, Keith Richburg, Billy Sa-
fire, Rob Meachum
Arts Page: Lois Josimovich
Photo Technician: Pauline Lubens

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T~ONE 1tbU&C~ D
© YokY CoAT'tA~t.?
l'
0.
Q/

Speak about
justice? Go ask
Billy Holcomb

(F)p

Joe

MICHAEL BECKMAN

I

By SUSAN HILDEBRANDT
BILLY HOLCOMB could have
been considered a prison
success story, if such a thing
exists. After spending three
years of a three-to-fifteen year
sentence for assault in the State
Prison of Southern Michigan
(Jackson State Prison), Hol-
comb returned to Detroit-not
to resume a delinquent life, but
to "help the youth of his com-
munity become a positive force
rather than future inmates."
Imprisoned behind the bars
of the world's largest prison, the
population of which is almost
70 per cent Black, Holcomb saw
Detroit's Black ghetto youth
wasting vital years in cells. Up-
on leaving Jackson in 1973, he
organized community alterna-
tives for youthful offenders and
offered them a chance to pro-
ductively integrate themselves
into the city.
And Billy Holcomb succeeded.
He disbanded many Eastside
street gangs and helped reduce
the crime rate by arranging
meetings with opposing gang
members, locating jobs and es-
tablishing educational tutoring
services. He co-founded the De-
troit Youth Association, design-
ed to give misguided and dis-
enchanted youth d i r e c t i o n
through cultural and recreation-
al opportunities, and he receiv-
ed numerous civic awards in
recognition of his achievements.
BILLY HOLCOMB could have
been considered a prison suc-
cess story, had he not been re-
turned to Jackson Prison last
Anril for committing an illegal
U-turn.
Holcomb walked away from
the Jackson Prison trustee di-
vision after being denied parole
in 1973, and walked into a life
of self-imposed community or-
ganizing. A Kettering High
School drop-out, Holcomb never
hid his identity while coordinat-
ing youth activities on the city's
east side. However, as an es-
canee he had no driver's license
and a record check following
the minor traffic violation re-
vealed his identity and forced
his arrest and subsequent re-
turn to prison.
Holcomb's prison record was
no mystery to those with and for
whom he worked, according to

money rather than steal, organ-
izing a clothing cooperative for
inadequately dressed children,
and establishing a GED (Gen-
eral Educational Development)
program.
"HIS COUNTLESS contribu-
tions prove that he has been
tions prove that he has been sig-
nificantly rehabilitated," states
the defense committee. "His
work is evidence that he did
not pursue a life of crime when
he gained his freedom. He chose
instead to give his energy, un-
selfishly, as an organizer and
participant to various commun-
ity efforts."
The organizations Holcomb as-
sisted include the Detroit Public
Schools, the Postal Street Acad-
emy, the Drop-In and Butzel
Family Centers, Parks and Pec-
reation, Operation Get Down,
the Southeast Neighborhood City
Hall, the Citizens' Crusade
Against Crime, and the Inner
City Sub-Center, among others.
The defense committee seeks
Holcomb's return for Detroit's
benefit and for that of the youth
he served.
"We want Billy back,' stated
Clara Parks of the defense com-
mittee. It is such a poor ex-
ample for someone like Billy,
who has sacrificed so much
and worked so hard, to be put
back in prison. Those kids have
established associations and de-
veloped responsibilities for each
other and the community. To
see their organizer put in prison
has a devastating effect on
them," she warned.
PRESENTLY, Holcomb is
awaiting trial on escape charges.
However ,the defense commit-
tee is calling for dismissal of
these charges and his release
on parole, a move originally
sipported by the Jackson Prison
deputy warden but rejected by
Warden Charles Egeler. The
committee is sending letters to
Steven Pearse, Chief of Proba-
tion for JacksonCounty, honing
to influience the parole board
when it convenes on Oct. 20.
"As a young street worker,
the youth of Detroit greatly
resoected Billy-ve cannot af-
ford to lose him," concluded Ms.
Parks.

MODERATOR: "GOOD EVENING ladies and gentleman, and
welcome to round 2 of the great and historic Presidential
debates, live and with sound from Tumbleweed Convention and
Rodeo Center in Joplin, Missouri. The contestants are the semi-
incumbant President Elephant, and the usurper-governor Don-
key. The questions will be asked tonight by Fifth Estate, the
assistant night editor of the Schenectady Weekly Dispatch, in al-
ternating fashion to the two candidates with no rebuttal. Ques-
tions are to be worded succintly and answers are to be limited to
one sentence or less. By virtue of the fact that Mr. Elephant
called evens and put out two fingers as did Mr. Donkey, the
first question will be directed to Mr. Elephant.
Estate: Mr. Elephant, in the short term of your Executivcy,
you have consistently advocated your continuing desire to main-
tain detente. In what ways do you intend to follow through with
this desire?
Elephant: I feel that we should maintain our complete sup-
port for the existence of Israel.
Estate: Mr. Donkey, you have claimed that the President has
continued to uselessly spiral upwards the already disproportion-
ately large amount of the federal budget on defense appropria-
tions. What suggestions can you make to decrease defense spend-
ing?
Donkey: I believe that it is despicable that the President
doesn't have the guts to carry out his own policys, and relies on a
Secretary of State to run foreign affairs, who is a holdover from
a corrupt administration.
Estate: Mr. Elephant, Salt I agreements expire next year.
Do you have any hopes that a new and more comprehensive
agreement can be reached by that time, to prevent an escalation
of the arms race?
Elephant: We feel that we have helped achieve the gradual
and peaceful succession of minority white rule to the colored, er
black majority in the southern African countries.
Estate: Mr. Donkey, if the Arab countries declare another
oil boycott, will you consider drastic action, such as armed inter-
vention?
Donkey: I believe that the slurs made by the Secretary of
Agriculture regarding the supposed inferiority of coloreds was
deplorable, and that the President should be held accountable
for all opinions and actions of his cabinet officials.
Estate: Mr. Elephant, if Vietnam gave this country a com-
plete accounting of all POW /MIA's would you then consider lift-
ing the American veto of Vietnamese entrance into the U.N.?
Elephant: I feel that my strong actions with regard to the
Mayaguez incident were justified under the circumstances, and
many lives were saved by a quick military strike.
Estate: Mr. Donkev, what would you do to improve relations
with the People's Republic of China, and would you continue rela-
tions with the Taiwan government?
Donkey: I believe that the administration ought to be ashamed
of itself for not taking a strong stand against American businesses
that go along with the Arab boycott of companies that do business
with Israel.

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