DETROIT — ”Turn yourself in. Turn yourself in, right now. Do the right thing.”
This is the plea of the Detroit 300 to two assailants who attacked an 85-year old woman Nov. 21 on Detroit’s northeast side.
On day three of their patrol, Nov. 29, the group who organized earlier this year to “take back their city” after multiple attacks on senior citizens set out in the Conant Gardens area to knock on doors and hang literature asking for anyone who has information on the attack to come forward. Crimestoppers is also offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the assailants.
Detroit 300 members say they’re close to catching the attackers and are turning their leads over to the Detroit Police. The attack is the third attack on a senior citizen in the area this year.
“We have a description of both individuals from some of the locals,” Raphael Johnson, a community activist, told the Michigan Citizen.
The two men, ages 20-30 and 40-50, left the woman, who many call Ms. Mary, for dead after viciously beating her. She remains in the hospital with a fractured shoulder and collapsed lung. The beating occurred in the early afternoon of Nov. 21 after the men raked the leaves from her lawn, bagging them neatly, some say. After paying the men, they attacked and robbed her, taking jewelry, her purse, credit cards, and coins.
Ms. Mary’s attack came only days after a similar attack on an 87-year-old woman in the same neighborhood who was beaten with a shovel after paying two men to cut the bushes in her yard.
“They’re preying on our elderly under the guise of lawn work,” Minster Malik Shabazz said.
Although there has been no direct link to the two attacks, Shabazz says the assailants are making it hard on those who provide lawn service and snow removal in their communities as a “righteous hustle.”
“People need to get out and tell what they know — if you want a decent neighborhood you gotta do something to defend it,” said Parnell Willis of the neighboring Kraitz Woods area.
Willis, who has lived in the area for 10 years, says crime has accelerated in the past two-to-four years. According to Willis, the block clubs have been building a coalition prior to the recent attacks. “It’s going to take citizen patrols. [That’s] the only thing that’s going to make a dent,” he said.
“We’re sick and tired of it,” said Patricia Pulliam, a long-time Detroit resident and member of Detroit 300. “They take things away from the good things … from those that want to do something [good].”
The Detroit 300 was joined by over 50 community members, including the newly formed Detroit Coalition Against Violence; the North Central Block Club Association; members of the NAACP, the Nation of Islam, the new Marcus Garvey Movement and the United Washtenaw Moors; and other community groups and Detroit residents.
“This is a life-and-death situation. And, we’re out here to make a difference,” said Barry Ross of the Detroit Coalition Against Violence.
Ross, whose family has been in business in Detroit for over 90 years, says he started the DCAV in July after the Russell Woods attack where a 90-year old woman was beaten and raped. “The citizens are leaving in fear,” Ross said.
Shabazz says the group is not only after those attacking the elderly but those participating in any form of crime, bringing down Detroit neighborhoods, “selling drugs, stealing hub caps, breaking and entering.”
“We’re shutting it down …” he said.
He’s encouraging the people of Detroit to come forward with information on any criminal activity in their neighborhoods.
“Don’t snitch, just tell,” says Shabazz.
Shabazz says it’s important for people to know the difference. He refers to snitching as being an accomplice of a crime and giving information to the police to lessen ones punishment, and telling as seeing a crime take place or knowing of a crime that has taken place and giving information to the police.
“We plan on catching them,” Shabazz said.