The deluge of news continues this week — we’ve got these updates and much more: Metro Detroiters’ calls for justice in Palestine (and from U.S. politicians) continue to grow louder. Detroit police address some questions on the murder of a respected Jewish community leader, but leave many unanswered. The United Auto Workers have a tentative agreement with Ford. And Detroit’s most pugnacious journalist lands in hot water.
Reporter SaMya Overall and a crew of gourmands tried every restaurant in a buzzy westside food hall, and we have more restaurant recommendations (and a mystery spot to guess).
We also have the scoop on a recent series of city-funded murals: none were painted by local artists, who are frustrated with the city’s lackluster pay and transparency. And as we approach both the spookiest day of the year and an important time of remembrance for the Mexican diaspora, we’ve stacked a giant list of local events to celebrate Halloween and el Día de los Muertos. <3 Team Detour
P.S. This breakdown of why restaurant pasta costs so much only briefly mentions Detroit’s La Dolce Vida, but it’s the service journalism we crave (almost as much as a top-tier bolognese).
Detroit in Five
Calls for a ceasefire: The crisis in Gaza is getting worse. After a Hamas attack on Oct. 7 that killed at least 1,400 people in Israel and counter-attacks that have killed more than 6,500 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip alone, the United Nations is warning of a mass ethnic cleansing and civil rights lawyers are decrying U.S. “complicity” in “Israel’s unfolding crime of genocide.” This seems to fit the definition of the word, coined by a Polish lawyer and Jewish refugee of the Holocaust and later codified into international law. There are increasing calls for peace. Teachers are trying to navigate the issue in local schools, high schoolers in Dearborn walked out in support of Palestinians, and students at the University of Michigan are pushing U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Ann Arbor, to support a cease-fire. At Wayne State University, there’s been a lot of controversy over students painting over each other’s protest messages on the school’s “spirit rock.” Local restaurants are donating profits. And the Farmington Hills man who made threats against Palestinians in Dearborn has been charged — with terrorism. (Associated Press, United Nations, Center for Constitutional Rights, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Detroit Free Press, Detroit News, Michigan Daily, South End, Eater, Arab American News)
Mourning a local champion: The Detroit Police Department says the slaying of local Jewish community leader Samantha Woll was not about antisemitism — but officials have not offered more details on what they do know, other than there are multiple persons of interest. At a news conference on Monday, police Chief James White said they believe Woll’s killer worked alone and are confident the incident is not linked to a wider threat to the Jewish community. Woll, 40, was found dead outside her home in the Lafayette Park neighborhood on Saturday. She was politically active and has worked for U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin and on the re-election campaign of Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. At Woll’s funeral on Sunday, Nessel said Woll “may be the nicest person I will ever meet.” (Freep, WXYZ, BridgeDetroit)
Strike-o-meter: Hundreds of striking casino workers marched down Woodward for a show of force at City Council’s Tuesday meeting. Councilmembers unanimously voted to approve a resolution supporting the strike, which includes 3,700 workers. The casinos pay a portion of their revenue to the city in taxes, accounting for about $155 million last year. City administration said it was prepared to “manage short-term disruptions.” In the meantime, the casinos are still keeping their doors partially open. In the car car camp, relief is seemingly on the way for Ford and its workers. The United Auto Workers reached a tentative deal with the automaker yesterday that includes a 25% wage increase over 4.5 years, cost of living adjustments that would bump the hike higher and other benefits. About 57,000 Ford workers represented by the union will have to ratify the agreement. Earlier this week, the strike expanded to include about 6,800 workers at Stellantis’ Sterling Heights Assembly Plant and about 5,000 at a GM plant in Texas. After a smaller start, the union has now shut down each of the Big Three’s largest — and highly profitable — plants. (WXYZ, Detroit News, Click on Detroit, Outlier, AP, Freep, CNBC, Associated Press, Reuters)
Challenge or harassment?: After 2020 election challengers created chaos in Detroit, the Michigan Secretary of State’s office made changes to what challengers can and cannot do. They required election challengers to fill a credential form before serving, banned the possession of electronic devices such as cell phones at absentee voter ballot processing facilities, prohibited challengers from directly interacting with election inspectors and allowed challengers to be kicked out if they repeatedly made impermissible challenges. The state GOP sued, and a court invalidated these changes shortly before the 2022 midterms, but there was a stay on that ruling to prevent last-minute confusion at the polls. Now a year later, the Michigan Court of Appeals has upheld the lower court’s ruling (paywalled) and instructed the Secretary of State to either “rescind the May 2022 manual in its entirety” or make changes. The state plans to appeal the latest ruling, meaning the post-2020 changes will remain in effect for the Nov. 7 election pending appeal. Locally, members of the Detroit Election Commission met this week and discussed the case, saying they expect more chaos and lawsuits moving forward. Corporation Counsel Conrad Mallett expressed the need for thorough documentation of ballot processes and suggested heightened security around the elections. (State of Michigan, Detroit Free Press, Democracy Docket, Detroit Documenters)
On his Duff: Notorious Detroit commentator Charlie LeDuff got his, uh, duff handed to him this week when he was fired from his Detroit News columnist gig for an unsavory tweet directed at Nessel. In his last column, LeDuff alleged that Nessel pressured her staff to close an investigation involving a friend, personal injury lawyer Traci Kornak, who was accused of swindling almost $50,000 from an insurance company under the account of an elderly client. The AG’s office responded with a letter claiming that the case was already closed when Nessel breached an ethical “firewall” and asked her staff about the case. LeDuff’s former boss, Detroit News publisher Gary Miles, defended the publication’s editorial standards and outlined the evidence backing LeDuff’s claims, but agreed that the tweet was a step too far. Here’s a goodbye to Chuck, I guess we won’t “see you next Tuesday.” (Detroit Metro Times, Michigan Department of Attorney General, Detroit News)
Wat-er relief! Yesterday, the Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA) Board of Directors agreed to a deal that will bring Highland Park’s worst water woes to an end if fully approved. The plan would settle $55 million in disputed water bill debt. It would also direct $70 million in state funding for repairs to Highland Park’s almost 120-year-old water infrastructure and commit another $30 million for improvements in other GLWA service areas. The plan (read the term sheet) would also require Highland Park to increase water rates by an unspecified amount for the first half of next year to offset the cost of the payoff. (Detroit Documenters, Detroit News, Detroit Urbanism, Michigan Advance)
Best of the rest:
- Peace out to the hallucinogenic-loving westside church run by Soul Tribes International Ministries. City officials and the police department shut down the building after suspending church activities in September. Possessing magic mushrooms is now legal in Michigan, but distributing them isn’t.
- Pandemic-era outrage propelled many vocal opponents of masking mandates into local government in Michigan. Ottawa County’s public health department is dealing with the results (paywalled) as its budget is slashed by about 20%.
- Cass Tech’s “relentless” girls varsity golf team started three years ago and is already headed to the state championships — a first for the city.
(Freep, Washington Post)
Longtime reader Sharif-Ahmed Krabti responded to last week’s Detour with thoughtful criticism that in part prompted us to articulate how we are covering global conflict right now as an outlet that is chiefly focused on Detroiters’ information needs. Here’s an excerpt from the letter:
“I’m disappointed in how you talked about the massacre that’s occurring in Gaza right now. I think it’s important to cover what happened in Israel on October 7th but to only report a combined death toll and discuss the marches that have happened this week in support of Palestinians in the same breath as those for the initial Hamas attack almost two weeks ago feels inaccurate and a deliberate attempt to keep a ‘both sides’ narrative intact despite the fact that one side has dropped more bombs in a week than the US dropped in Afghanistan within a year. Describing it as a ‘war’ or ‘conflict’ at this point is absurd. …
I have sympathy for your positions as journalists with integrity. I do think you can do more however, to not shy away from this issue at a time when action and honesty is needed to prevent further death and destruction. The Detroit Metro’s relationship to the ongoing massacre is unique, and I urge you to more boldly report on this issue just as you have for local environmental, racial, and social justice issues here in the city.”
We hope you’ll also give our note a read and reach out to us if you ever have concerns or feedback.
Culture & Community
By SaMya Overall
Before you even walk into Detroit’s first Black-owned food hall, all you smell is food. The scent of burgers, chicken and barbecue wafts onto the sidewalk in front of the gray and black building, and the name of the restaurant asks you what your stomach wants to know: Whatcha Wanna Eat?
“It’s been a blast just giving back to the community,” co-founder Gena Bailey said. “This is my husband’s idea. This is his dream. … We wanted to give this to everyone in the community and actually help people that couldn’t open their own brick-and-mortar.”
If you’ve got your costume planned, spooky decorations hung and treats purchased, there’s only one thing left to do before you celebrate Halloween: Pick a party. We’ve got plenty of recommendations for events happening all weekend long, as well as family-friendly celebrations around the city. (Think of all the candy you could collect!)
We’ve also got festivities, art and a market to celebrate Día de los Muertos, and plenty to do if you’re not feeling the holidays. Think cat videos, a Caribbean dinner and some help upping your houseplant game as the weather makes us head indoors.
Written by Alex, Dan, Erin, Kate, Koby, Lynelle, Miriam, Noah, SaMya and Sarah. Teamwork makes the dream work!
Spartans add one more controversy to the pile