Detroit officials blame ‘illegal block parties’ after deadly shootings

News & Politics

Officials in Detroit, Michigan, have decided to crack down on so-called illegal block parties after three people were killed and dozens more wounded in shootings around the July Fourth holiday.

In the wee hours of the morning on Sunday, some 300 people gathered in a neighborhood near the intersection of Rossini Drive and Reno Street on the northeastern side of Detroit. Suddenly, around 2:30 a.m., shots broke out.

‘This is not who we are.’

When the smoke cleared, a 20-year-old woman and a 21-year-old man were dead, and 19 other people — ranging in age from 16 to 27 — were injured, making it the worst mass shooting in Michigan history. As of Monday afternoon, a 17-year-old girl remains in critical condition.

Officials confirmed that multiple suspects are believed to be involved but did not provide further details.

Sadly, the shooting on Sunday morning was just one of six shootings that occurred at mass gatherings in Detroit in the past week. At least one other person has died and five others were wounded, bringing the total number of shooting deaths to 13 in just the past five weeks or so, officials claimed.

To combat this rash of deadly violence, city officials have decided to take aim at the mass gatherings. At a press conference on Monday, Democratic Mayor Mike Duggan, Police Chief James White, and others claimed these unauthorized block parties often lead to outbursts of violence.

“We had a level of violence last week that we rarely see anymore in Detroit,” said Mayor Duggan. “And it’s caused a great deal of pain for the victims and their families, and it’s caused a great deal of pain to the entire Detroit community.”

“This is not who we are,” Chief White added.

In Detroit, anyone wishing to host a block party must first receive a permit from the city. The party must then be restricted to one block, according to a 2023 Facebook post from the Detroit Police Department, and no alcohol, tents, inflatables, vendors, or food and beverage sales are allowed.

Mayor Duggan assured residents that the city does not want to ban outdoor barbecues or other family gatherings. The city just wants to avoid “pop-up parties” that ultimately shut down streets and sometimes attract the wrong crowd from other cities.

“You know the difference between your neighbor’s family getting a little loud and a lot of strangers showing up on your street, parking on the grass and sidewalk, blocking your driveway, underage kids out in front after curfew, loud noise in the neighborhood,” he said.

“We’re not going to have neighbors becoming hostages in their own homes this summer, and that is what’s happening,” he continued.

“This is not, ‘Your neighbor’s family’s party got large.'”

‘Even in Detroit, you don’t need the mayor’s permission to gather with others.’

Wayne County prosecutor Kym Worthy expressed similar concerns. “Block parties used to be good, clean fun,” she said. “But now, many of them are venues of death, fear, violence, and destruction. Should we have to regulate them? No. Must we? Absolutely, yes.”

Officials claim they will be targeting party organizers and hosts, not attendees. Those caught violating the restrictions regarding block parties may receive citations for offenses such as disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace, both of which can result in a fine and/or jail time.

However, critics such as journalist James David Dickson believe that mass gatherings are covered by the First Amendment and are not the cause of the violence.

“What is an ‘illegal party’? There is no such thing,” Dickson wrote on X. “Even in Detroit, you don’t need the mayor’s permission to gather with others.”

“Explain to me like I’m 5 how getting a ‘permit’ makes it OK to block off a street for a party,” he added in a follow-up post. “Because the government says so? Uh oh.”

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