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Devil’s Night

Hi all! It’s been a few weeks since my last post, and considering today is Halloween, I figured it’s the perfect time to talk about Devil’s Night. If you live in Detroit, you already know what this is. Locally, the night before Halloween is known as “Devil’s Night”… other parts of the country call it mischief night. For most people across the country, this night is known for kids going out and egging, TP’ing, ding-dong-ditch, and petty pranks. Leave it to the fine folks of Detroit to step it up a few notches by burning down hundreds of buildings every year on this night!

It wasn’t always this bad, though. Not too long after the riots in 1967, which resulted in the phenomenon known now as white flight (all the whites left Detroit and moved to the suburbs because they no longer felt safe in the city), the minor crimes and acts of petty vandalism soon escalated to much more devastating acts like arson in the early 1970s. The inner city neighborhoods took the brunt of the destruction, which peaked in the mid 1980s with more than 800 fires set in 1984, and 500 to 800 fires in the three days and nights before Halloween in a typical year.

Although the number of fires had begun to decline in the 1990s, the threat of fires still loomed every year. After Devil’s Night in 1994, which saw over 200 fires and killed a 1 year old girl, then mayor Dennis Archer promised city residents arson would not be tolerated. In 1995, Detroit city officials organized and created Angel’s Night on and around October 29-31. Each year as many as 50,000 volunteers gather to patrol neighborhoods, which has drastically reduced the number of fires.

The numbers for this year’s Devil’s Night wont be released for another 48 hours, but thus far only 11 suspicious fires were reported from 9pm Thursday to 6am Friday. The city averages 10 to 20 suspicious fires a day anyways, so it would seem Detroit has finally quelled the infamous Devil’s Night arsons. My theory, though: They’ve already burned every structure other than their own homes, and therefore there is nothing left to burn. Of course, I am kidding… there is no shortage of abandoned buildings in Detroit!

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