Jul 31, 2007

Kalamazoo Citizens Speak Out About Upcoming White Power Event

(Kalamazoo, MI) Over the past few days I had the opportunity to speak with dozens of residents in and around Kalamazoo, MI. I was interested in finding out the answers to several questions:

1. Are you aware that there will be a rally on Saturday, August 4 by white supremacists and neo-Nazis to protest what they claim is "black gang terrorism" and "the genocide of whites?"

2. What is your opinion of the rally?

3. Is black-on-white crime a serious problem in Kalamazoo?
In general, about one-third of the respondents expressed some knowledge of the upcoming rally. Of those who knew of the rally, none of the respondents could correctly name any of the scheduled speakers at the rally, but several volunteered such answers as "the KKK" or "The Klan." Responses tended to be along the lines of "Steve" (names changed to protect anonymity):

"Well, I guess they have freedom of speech, but no one with any sense is going to listen to them," he said. "It's a shame that these idiots who don't even live here have to come and try to start trouble here."

No respondents expressed positive views of the rally, and not one person out of 33 interviewed said that black-on-white crime was a problem, despite the efforts by New Jersey white supremacist Hal Turner to exploit the issue. Answers from the respondents generally mirrored those of "Jackie," a middle-aged white woman:

"There's crime here, but criminals don't single out people based on their race," she said. "If you live in a neighborhood with higher crime, you could be a victim, whether you are black or white."

Left: Image of dowtown Kalamazoo courtesy of Wikipedia.org

Several respondents agreed that gangs were a problem in Kalamazoo, but argued that street gangs accounted for only part of the city's crime problem.

"There's gang-bangers on my street, but they pretty much keep to themselves, selling dope or just hanging out," said "Larry," an older white man. "If you don't bother them, they won't bother you. But it was a white dude who stole my car a few years back - a**holes come in all colors."

The general trend in crime in Kalamazoo has been downward over the past twenty years, although there was a slight uptick in 2006 in overall recorded offenses. Rape and larceny declined in 2006, while there were increases in arson, burglary, auto theft, assault, and robbery. The number of murders increased from three to five in Kalamazoo in 2006.

None of the people with whom I spoke planned to attend the rally.

"I think it's a good day to go fishing," explained one man. "No sense in making it harder for the police to keep a lid on things."


Hooda Thunkit said...

I found Larry's comment most on target, "a**holes come in all colors."

Nuff said.

MP said...

True that.

What struck me about all of these answers is that most are pretty rational and common-sense based. Based on some of what I've seen from The Blade in the past, Toledo could take a lesson from Kalamazoo.

These answers also show that neo-Nazis mistakenly think that only one demographic largely supports their views: people in declining industrial towns. Problem is, no two people think exactly alike, and many people probably recognize that a declining economy has almost nothing to do with race (to blame for Kalamazoo's decline? Pfizer- stupid, rich white men).

This poll gives me courage that intelligence and common sense can prevail after all.

mc said...

It's rather sad that these white supremeists have nothing better to do than to go out trying to create trouble where it does not exist. The history of Soutwestern Michigan is that it is the area the Underground Railroad led to. African Americans were warmly and happily welcomed into this area and have been very important in developing and significantly contributing to our state and our country. Biracial mixing in this area is very commonplace and dates far back in history. My husband and I have three biracial children, used to live on the "liberal West Coast", and feel more comfortable here in Kalamazoo living in a community and area where families like ours are litterally everywhere.

The statement about Pfizer? SO right on. Upjohn was a rock here. Pfizer has killed this area. And Pfizer is far from finished eliminating everyone. The "waves" of firings go through about every 4 to 6 months. For every person they fire, eight others in the community lose their jobs in the trickle down effect. ( Want a gorgeous home on a beautiful lot for pennies? There are SO MANY to choose from here! And free college tuition to boot from THE PROMISE).