Coleman Young - Assessment - Crime


Young has also been blamed for failing to stem the crime epidemic that Detroit became notorious for in the 1970s and 1980s, perhaps even encouraging it. For example, it has been suggested that the drug dealer White Boy Rick, who also worked for the FEDs and the Detroit Police Department as an informant, was unbothered by police for long periods of time because he dated a relative of Young's. Dozens of violent black street gangs gained control of the city's large drug trade, which began with the heroin epidemic of the 1970s and grew into the even larger crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980s and early 1990s. Major criminal gangs that were founded in Detroit and dominated the drug trade at various times included The Errol Flynns (east side), Nasty Flynns (later the NF Bangers) and Black Killers and the drug consortiums of the 1980s such as Young Boys Inc., Pony Down, Best Friends, Black Mafia Family and the Chambers Brothers. However, it should be pointed out that none of these gangs are currently active, and the leaders of each of these criminal organizations are either dead or serving lengthy prison sentences.

Several times during Young's tenure Detroit was named the arson capital of America, and repeatedly the murder capital of America. Often Detroit was listed by FBI crime statistics as the "most dangerous city in America" during his administration. Crime rates in Detroit peaked in 1991 at more than 2,700 violent crimes per 100,000 people. However, crime continues to be a problem in Detroit long after Young's tenure as mayor ended; according to national statistics the arson rate in Detroit was 6.3x the national average in 2003 and the murder rate was 5.1x the national average. In addition, the majority of Detroit residents, including many blacks, have left the city, leaving a glut of abandoned buildings that have become magnets for drugs, arson, and other crime.

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