Detroit City Council correctly blasted the state in its management of Belle Isle. City Clerk Janice Winfrey, who stated she did not expect preferential treatment because she is an elected official, testified she was concerned about the sarcastic disposition of the state police trooper who said he wanted to keep “riff-raff“ off the island.
The mainstream press laughed off Council President Brenda Jones claiming she has a desire for preferential treatment — a dismissal of the main point. Jones and council are plenty aware of the long, troubled history between communities of color and the police.
Council members, in calling for sensitivity training, are aware of conflated issues of poverty, mass incarceration and racial profiling.
The state took Belle Isle, and it is now forcefully policing it. Most longtime residents will describe the changed character of the island. Formerly a welcoming park, now many feel uncomfortable and have a vague sense the park “doesn’t belong to us anymore.”
The policing issues must be addressed by this summer. Otherwise, the masses, many who haven’t yet felt the impact of emergency management, bankruptcy or the state takeover on the city, will learn Belle Isle, a rare place of refuge in Detroit, will be lost to them.