Can Detroit Prevent a Return of 'Devil's Night'?
A dying auto industry, failing schools, rampant unemployment and a home foreclosure crisis: Detroit has no shortage of ills, but in recent years it has made progress combating the city's notorious tradition known as Devil's Night, the period leading up Halloween each year when scores of buildings would be torched. Yet earlier this month, when nearly a dozen vacant homes were set afire in the span of a weekend, authorities here feared the worst: The real estate crisis that has hit Detroit particularly hard would mean a resurgence of Devil's Night.
Locals are working hard, however, to not allow that to happen. Thousands of people from across the country — including Guardian Angles from New York City — are arriving to patrol, hoping to prevent the burning of vacant buildings and cars. Many residents will sit on their front porches, watching for prospective arsonists. Wooden boards have been placed across the doors and windows of vacant buildings to keep out intruders. On street posts and buildings across the city, there are signs saying, "THIS BUILDING IS BEING WATCHED," above a sketch of a set of human eyes. "Obviously, I'm nervous," Detroit's mayor, Dave Bing, said in an interview earlier this week, when asked about the possibility that homes here may become targets for arsonists as Halloween approached. "But we need to be observant, and I think our community has gotten engaged."