The New York Times has an 11 page article on the “emergency manager” of Benton Harbor, Michigan, previously home of FDR’s “arsenal of democracy,” which is one of the Black Undertow cities that has already lost its independence to the State of Michigan.
Federal and state grants were used to build the deserted Harbor Shores resort in a 90 percent African-American city, now the Midwestern arsenal of crack cocaine, where 60 percent of the population lives on public assistance:
Robinson, who is 53, went to graduate school for hypnotherapy, the art of inducing trances to change behavioral patterns, before becoming a corporate consultant in Rochester, N.Y. He was brought to Benton Harbor by Whirlpool as a “diversity consultant” in early 2001. His assignment was to work with community leaders, businesspeople and other local residents to come up with ways to address some of the ever-worsening problems — poverty, violence, white flight, racial strife — that had been plaguing the city for years and were making it increasingly difficult for Whirlpool to attract executive talent to the area. The discussions helped birth Harbor Shores, a notion that had been kicking around a long while. . .
Harris is Benton Harbor’s “emergency manager.” He was first sent to the town in April 2010 under a law that provided the state with limited authority to intervene in the financial affairs of failing cities. His power grew exponentially last spring when Governor Snyder and the state’s Republican Legislature passed Public Act 4, which allows emergency managers to renegotiate or terminate contracts, change collective-bargaining agreements, even dissolve local governments (subject to the governor’s approval). They have almost unfettered control over their respective cities. This approach to governing is still in its infancy, but if it proves successful in Benton Harbor and elsewhere, emergency managers could be dispatched to troubled municipalities across the state. […]
Over the course of the night, Lange circled the various hotspots — parks, parking lots, stoops — where people tend to collect to play dice or buy and sell drugs (generally crack, heroin or cocaine) and dispersed the gathering crowds. “I’ve found that this has cut down on a lot of the violent crime,” he told me. “When people gamble, they’re going to get mad.” He stopped frequently to move small children out of the streets and back into their homes: “How you doin’? Where’s your parents?” […]
In Michigan, African-Americans are 14.2 percent of the population, but are responsible for 63 percent of homicide, 30 percent of rape, 70 percent of robbery, 50 percent of aggravated assault, and 31 percent of burglary.
Note: The dictator of Benton Harbor turns out to be black. It is about as likely to recover as Tuskegee or Birmingham. The Rev. Jesse Jackson has called for an uprising like Selma in Benton Harbor. That makes little sense because Benton Harbor is an integrated city where there are no Whites to be overthrown.
Earlier this summer, I wrote a travelogue called The Ruins of Selma which contains a photo gallery of what Selma looks like today after 46 years of the Voting Rights Act. Freedom also failed in Birmingham, Tuskegee, and Montgomery which were at the epicenter of the Civil Rights Movement.