Detroit used to be a place firemen from around the county would come to train because of the Devil's Night fires and the utter chaos unleashed in our city around Halloween.
Not anymore. Since the community has banded together to stop it, the night before Halloween is now known as Angels’ Night, and it’s a sign of big, lasting changes we’re seeing to turn around Detroit.
Picture this: from the 1970s to the 1990s, the city of Detroit was home to vandalism and arson on the night before Halloween. Historically, not-so-nice mischief took place on October 30th as early as the 1940s, although back then, it was seen as petty mischief by rotten kids – nothing epidemic to consider symbolic or a growing trend.
But that eventually changed, and fires raged on this night in the heart of the Motor City. Devil’s Night was at its peak in the 1980s, with more than 800 fires set in 1984 alone, and 500-800 fires in the three days and nights before Halloween each year.
Former Mayor Dennis Archer turned the tide in 1995 by creating what is now known as Angels’ Night. It was a true community-building effort, pulling together 50,000 volunteers to walk city streets and remind residents that some people do care deeply about the fate of this city.
The fires declined. In the last few years, if there were fires over this time period, it was less than 100 – not good, but not as bad as it had been for so long. The year 2015 had the fewest arson cases during this time in recent history.
What will you be doing this year around Halloween? Do you care about your city enough to show it some love?
We can only be as good as the worst among us, and what our neighbors do affects us all. This Halloween season, join me in shoring up the safety and respect for the city of Detroit, showing the world – and ourselves – that kindness matters and respect for our home is a community value.