March alumni fight arson in Detroit

DETROIT--In the spirit of the Oct. 16, 1995 Million Man March, Mayor Dennis Archer called for a citizen's patrol force to prevent the internationally notorious series of arson events known collectively as "Devil's Night," which spans Oct. 29-31.

Thirty-thousand volunteers patrolled streets, watched vacant houses and others reported disturbances from their homes, resulting in a decrease of more than half the number of fires the previous year. There were 158 arsons in 1995 compared to 354 in 1994.

"The Million March had a tremendous impact. After the march, the mayor put out a call for those men who had participated," said Glenn Oliver, executive assistant to Mayor Archer and coordinator of the 1996 Devil's Night anti-arson campaign. "There was a large increase seen in the amount of volunteers after the mayor put out the call," he added.

The number of "Devil's Night" fires in 1995 was close to the average number of fires the city would have over a regular three-day period, said city officials.

Mr. Oliver says this year the goal is for a 32,000 volunteer force. Some 19,000 volunteers have already registered for the Devil's Night patrols, said Mr. Oliver. The official call for volunteers has not gone out yet, he noted.

Thousands of dollars in property damage was averted because of the volunteer efforts of Black men throughout the city. Devil's Night is "a time when Detroit comes together and mobilizes" for the good of the city, said Mr. Oliver. To register as a volunteer, please call the city hotline (313) 224-4415. --Tracey K. Muhammad

One Year LaterFCN Online