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  • Here is why landlords could make money in Wayne County

    CNN has a message to all prospective landlords: Head to Wayne County! Occupancy and rental rates are increasing, the report says, creating an opportunity for serious returns on investments. In fact, after comparing the median sales price of homes to average monthly rents in nearly 1,600 counties, RealtyTrac found that Detroit’s Wayne County offers landlords the best return on their investment in the nation. Investors who buy homes in the metro area can expect a 30% gross annual return from rents. That’s triple the national average of 10%. RealtyTrac, an online real estate information company, says the county offers investors low prices for larger homes — with a median price of $45,000. “We’ve got some steals here,” said Rachel Saltmarshall, a real estate agent and immediate past president of the Detroit Association of Realtors, told CNN. “There’s a six-bedroom, 6,000 square-foot home in a historic district selling for $65,000.” For more, read the entire report here.

    The post Here is why landlords could make money in Wayne County appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • The Record Store Day Guide for metro Detroit

    This Saturday, audiophiles across the world will venture out to their favorite independent record stores in search of limited releases that quickly become collectors items. The third Saturday of April marks the fairly new international holiday Record Store Day. There are certainly dos and don’ts to know for RSD — like where to shop, and how to shop. That’s right, there is an etiquette to shopping on Record Store Day and violating that code makes you look like a real asshole. In my experience of celebrating Record Store Day, I’ve seen stores use a few different tactics as far as stocking the special releases. Some establishments will set up a table, somewhere in the store, where a few shoppers at a time can flip through records in a calm and contained manner. Other places will have a similar setup, with all the releases at a table, but shoppers ask the store employees for the releases they want. It’s like a record nerd stock exchange. This process gets loud, slightly confusing and incredibly annoying — this is where elbows start getting thrown. Then, there are places that put the releases on the shelves, usually categorized by size — twelve inches with the twelve inches, seven inches with the seven inches and […]

    The post The Record Store Day Guide for metro Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: DEMF 2014 canceled

    The Detroit Electronic Music Festival, which was supposed to be making a triumphant return this year, has been canceled. A statement on the website says that the festival will be back in 2015. Back in November, Ford Field hosted an announcement party for DEMF, where it was revealed that a new DEMF festival would take place at Campus Martius Park in Detroit over the July 4th weekend. “I’m proud to be involved in the biggest and best electronic music festival in the world,” said Juan Atkins. “The future’s here. This is techno scene.” Not the immediate future, apparently. The DEMF people claim that the M-1 rail construction is partially to blame for the cancellation/12-month-postponement. Read the full statement here. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: DEMF 2014 canceled appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Metro Times wins heavy at the SPJ Awards

    Despite a turbulent 2013 which saw Metro Times change owners, move buildings and change editors twice, we picked up eight awards at the Society of Professional Journalists Awards on Wednesday night. The big winner was Robert Nixon, design manager, who picked up a first place for “Feature Page Design (Class A)” for our Josh Malerman cover story, first for “Cover Design (Class A)” for our Halloween issue (alongside illustrator John Dunivant), and a second in that same category for our annual Lust issue. In the news categories, our esteemed former news editor and current contributing writer Curt Guyette won third in “General News Reporting” and third in “Best Consumer/Watchdog” – both Class A – for the Fairground Zero and Petcoke Series respectively. Music & Culture Editor Brett Callwood placed third for his Josh Malerman cover story in the “Best Personality Profile (Class A)” category, and former editor Bryan Gottlieb picked up a couple of Class C awards for “Editorial Writing” and “Headline Writing” (third and second, respectively). We were also pleased to learn that our investigative reporter Ryan Felton won first place and an honorable mention for work published while at the Oakland Press. The MT ship is steady now, […]

    The post Metro Times wins heavy at the SPJ Awards appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit’s grand bargain still needs Lansing’s approval

    In this week’s Metro Times we took a look at the state legislature’s role in Detroit’s ongoing bankruptcy — in particular, how it must approve a $350 million pledge for the so-called “grand bargain” to remain intact. And, with last night’s announcement of a significant deal between the city and Detroit’s pension boards and retiree groups, the ball is Lansing’s court now. The new deal, first reported by the Freep, would cut general employees monthly pension checks by 4.5 percent and eliminate their cost-of-living increases. Police and fire retirees would see no cuts to monthly checks, while their cost-of-living increases would be reduced from 2.25 percent to 1 percent. Under the original offer, police and fire retirees cuts were as high as 14 percent, with general retirees as high as 34 percent, that is, if the groups rejected the “grand bargain,” an $816 million proposal funded by foundations, the state, and the DIA to shore up pensions. The sweeter deal for pensions, though, it must be noted, entirely relies on the state legislature approving $350 million for Detroit’s bankruptcy.  And while this broke after Metro Times went to press, that was the focal point of this week’s News Hits column — so, it’s worth repeating: The […]

    The post Detroit’s grand bargain still needs Lansing’s approval appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Local releases for Record Store Day on Saturday

    This Saturday, April 19, is Record Store Day, and there is plenty going on in metro Detroit and Michigan. Of special interest to us is Chiodos’ 7” single “R2ME2/Let Me Get You A Towel,” Mayer Hawthorne & Shintaro Skamoto’s 7” “Wine Glass Woman/In a Phantom,” Chuck Inglish & Action Bronson’s 7” “Game Time,” Chuck Inglish & Chance the Rapper’s 7” “Glam,” Chuck Inglish & Chromeo’s 7” “Legs,” Chuck Inglish, Mac Miller & Ab-Soul’s 7” “Easily,” James Williamson’s 7” “Open Up and Bleed/Gimme Some Skin,” Black Milk’s 12” “Glitches in the Break,” Mayer Hawthorne’s 10” “Jaded Inc.,” Wayne Kramer & the Lexington Arts Ensemble’s 12” “Lexington,” and best of all, Ray Parker Jr.’s 10” “Ghostbusters.” We wrote about James Williamson’s release this week. Go shop. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: Local releases for Record Store Day on Saturday appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

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Stir It Up

Justice distorted

Remembering the Central Park Five case, a twisted rush to judgment

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Courtroom sketch of the Central Park Five trial


The first time Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, Yusef Salaam, Antron McCray and Korey Wise were in front of the camera for an important reason; it was the April 1989 video confessions they gave to police admitting to having raped and nearly killed a female jogger in New York City's Central Park.

The Central Park Five — a new film examining the case in which they were all convicted, all served their full prison terms, and all had their convictions overturned after the real rapist confessed 13 years later — is one hell of a sequel. 

"We hope that this film starts a conversation about lessons learned from this case. It's not an isolated incident, about false confessions and why they happen and how they happen," says Sarah Burns, who co-produced the film with her father, filmmaker Ken Burns, and David McMahon, who co-produced The War with him. "It's about the underlying racism that played such a huge role in this case that led so many people to believe that these kids committed these crimes."

The Central Park Five case was a huge story in 1989. It was at the height of the crack epidemic, and crime rates in New York were at their highest ever. Citizens were screaming for police to crack down on crime. They got what they asked for in a great miscarriage of justice.

The Central Park Five, aged 14 to 16, came into being April 19. They were among a loosely knit group of about 30 teenagers, many of whom didn't even know each other, who wandered through the park harassing bicyclists one evening. One member of the larger group beat up a jogger badly enough that he was hospitalized. After receiving complaints about the harassing crowd, police grabbed several of the boys and took them to the station to wait for their parents to come get them.

A few hours later, two men found a woman raped and nearly dead in the park. When the call came in, police were sure they already had their perpetrators in custody. The boys were interrogated for 14 to 30 hours — sometimes with their parents present as required by law for juveniles, sometimes not. Many of the things you see in movies and television cop shows seem to have followed. 

Detectives told some that the guys in other rooms were ratting on them, that they better hurry up and cooperate before it was too late. Some were told if they gave a statement they would be allowed to leave. Five confessed. And the police and prosecutors continued their charade knowing full well that details of the boys' made-up stories contradicted each other, that the one DNA sample taken from the victim didn't match any of the boys, that there was absolutely no forensic evidence tying them to the scene of the crime, and that there were legitimate questions about whether the boys had been at the scene of the crime at all. 

"[They were] yelling at me all up in my face, poking me in my chest," says McCray of his interrogation. "We stopped a few times 'cause I was crying. They kept asking questions, no food, no drink, no sleep. I didn't know when it was going to end."

"I'm just going to make up something and include these guys' names," says Richardson, describing his thought process. "They was coaching me, and I was writing it down. They gave me the names, I put them in. I couldn't tell you who they were, what they looked like."

The Central Park Five were found guilty and sent to prison. In 2001, Wise — 16 at the time of the crime, sentenced as an adult, and still behind bars when the others had finished their time — ran into Matias Reyes, a serial rapist and murderer serving about 33 years to life. Reyes confessed to the crime to authorities. An ensuing investigation found that his DNA matched the lone sample found at the crime scene.

"I'm the one that did this," Reyes' recorded voice states in the film.

The exoneration of the five men never got the same amount of ink or air time that accompanied their capture and conviction. The message that they didn't do it was not nearly as sensational, couldn't possibly sell as many papers as the sordid tale of a 28-year-old white woman — an investment banker during the time when the financial industry had helped turn around New York City — being gang raped by a group of black and brown boys. 

Newspaper headlines had disparagingly referred to them as a "wolf pack." 

It's a terrible tale of what happens when police, a city, a nation jump onto a narrative of blame when the evidence doesn't support the accusations. Sadly, in this case and so many others, it's an ongoing narrative that paints young men of color as aggressive criminals, with the authorities, the media and the public all too ready to jump to false conclusions. One juror who appears in the film describes how his doubts were attacked by the other jurors until he finally gave in.

"If this had happened in 1901, they would have been lynched, perhaps castrated, and their bodies burned and that would have been the end of it," the Rev. Calvin Butts says in the film.

True, but what Butts doesn't connect is that in 2012 this kind of demonization continues. Just a few weeks ago in Jacksonville, Fla., a 45-year-old white man, Michael Dunn, shot into a car killing Jordan Davis, a black 17-year-old. The slain boy and his friends were sitting in a car in a convenience store parking lot listening to loud music when Dunn pulled in. Dunn complained about the noise and he and Davis argued. Dunn drew his weapon and shot eight or nine times into the vehicle, killing Davis. Dunn didn't report the incident to police. He went home and was only later found because someone had noted his license plate number. His lawyer says he felt threatened and acted in self-defense.

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