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A lawless Detroit and Michigan

“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.” — Frederick Douglass

Detroit is not safe. And we don’t say that to mean criminals are at every turn of the corner waiting to prey on their next victim. While that may be the case in some instances, the real harm is done by those who are in positions that are supposed to provide a secure and decent quality of life for residents — those that are entrusted with the public good do just the opposite.

When U.S. Attorney General Barbara McQuade won her victory in court against Kwame Kilpatrick, she suggested corruption in Detroit had come to an end. While we, and many of our readers found appeal in McQuade’s comments, it has become increasingly apparent this couldn’t be further from the truth. Corruption in Detroit — in Michigan is alive and well.

Corruption in Detroit is apparent when people are so disenfranchised and isolated, they take it upon themselves to beat someone who accidently hit a child. It is failure to understand moral corruption that creates a “dual system” of compassion. Corruption — in public policy and public office — created the extreme poverty and deprivation that much of Detroit is living under, creating an environment where such a base response could happen.

Recent mainstream reports would lead the public to believe Council President Brenda Jones — or her supporters — to be a part of wrongdoing with an alleged bribe for the council president vote. Although the allegations are under investigation and it is unclear if anyone at all can be implicated, we question the focus on Jones. There is no fairness in that singular focus especially when it was Jenkins’ name that came out of the Eastern Market bar conversation.

All council members should be questioned and investigated. However, it does seem for some, as if it is more comfortable to believe Jones, the winner with a populist message would be corrupt. Ironically, there is little money behind populism these days.

And unlike New Orleans, where not only former Mayor Ray Nagin was indicted for accepting bribes, but also those who offered the bribes were arrested, many of the bribers in the Kilpatrick saga are still walking around, unscathed and doing business.

Rick Snyder

Rick Snyder

Last week, the state Democratic Party revealed Gov. Snyder’s cousin received a lucrative state contract, double what it was budgeted to be. It’s hard to say what is more corrupt, the increase in the furniture contract while benefits for schools and seniors are being cut, or the fact that Gov. Snyder’s aide Richard Baird — paid from a fund with anonymous donations —appeared to steer government contracts to benefit the governor’s cousin. Whoa. If that had been Kwame…

There are several layers of corruption and lawlessness operating in Detroit. The legal aspect of corruption can be prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s office, but the understanding of moral corruption requires a sense of humanity, compassion, empathy. Those qualities are in short supply considering the attacks on the state and city’s most vulnerable residents. The attacks —water shut offs, unemployment, failing schools, mass incarceration, emergency management — are Michigan’s most vile and lawless acts.

We join Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer in asking for a federal investigation of the Snyder administration.

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