We are at the crossroads of multiple conflicts felt here at home. The Israel-Hamas war has impacted people in Detroit and the metro area, who have called for justice and are concerned for their safety. Thousands of casino workers have walked out to demand better compensation — the latest strike just in our region. Plus, residents in Detroit and Highland Park are calling for environmental and economic justice.
Heavy stuff, to say the very least. If you need to take a break (please do take care of yourself), you can read about the city’s newest Black-owned grocery and an effort to collect oral histories about the former Black Bottom neighborhood. Love architecture? We asked Detroit architects about their fave Detroit buildings. And don’t forget to chime in if you know this week’s westside mystery spot… <3 Team Detour
Detroit in Five
Wager on wages: Around 3,700 workers from Detroit’s three casinos went on strike Tuesday after negotiations failed to deliver a new union contract. The Detroit Casino Council, which includes several unions representing workers, said it is seeking better pay, retirement protections and other benefits. Nearly all workers voted to approve the strike in late September. MGM Grand Detroit said it made six different offers to workers that included the “single largest pay increase” in the casino’s history. The council said workers accepted limited pay raises when contracts were negotiated in 2020, and since then, casinos have made huge increases in revenue from online gambling. It estimates that each day of the strike is costing the city and state about $738,000 in tax revenue and $3.4 million for the casinos. (Detroit News, Michigan Advance, CNBC)
Strife felt at home: More than 4,000 people have been killed in the war in Israel and Palestine since Oct. 7. The death toll includes at least 31 Americans. International observers are sounding alarms about a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, where more than a million people have fled their homes, and residents have been cut off from essential supplies while facing daily air strikes. Last week, hundreds marched in Dearborn to support Palestinians. On Monday, Jews rallied at the McNamara Federal Building in Detroit to call for a ceasefire, echoing a call for de-escalation from U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Detroit and a dozen other Democratic lawmakers. After Hamas initially attacked Israel, Michigan political and Jewish leaders called for solidarity with Israel, along with increased U.S. military aid, at a synagogue gathering in Southfield organized by the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit. More than 2,000 people attended, including Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Sen. Gary Peters. (Reuters, Axios, Michigan Advance, Detroit Free Press, Intercept, Fox 2 Detroit)
Trapped in Gaza: A metro Detroit couple who were visiting family in Gaza when war broke out have sued the U.S. departments of State and Defense for failing to help them get home, which they say is discriminatory. Government lawyers wrote the U.S. is “actively working to secure the safe exit” of citizens from the blockaded war zone, but argued that doing so would subject evacuees and rescuers to “grave danger” and affect diplomacy. They argued that the courts aren’t set up to make decisions in emergency situations like this one. (Freep, Detroit News)
Safety at home: The conflict has led to fears about Islamophobia and antisemitism around the U.S. and locally. There’s more security around places of worship, and a Farmington Hills man learned last week that online threats against Palestinian Americans are going to get you arrested. A few years ago, WDET’s Nargis Rahman wrote about what it takes to be a good ally to our Muslim neighbors. Her advice still holds, as does this guide to understanding antisemitism with tips for countering it. (Guardian, Associated Press, WDET, Freep, Haute Hijab, Jews For Racial & Economic Justice)
Thanedar steps in it: U.S. Rep. Shri Thanedar, the controversial Democrat representing most of Detroit, waded into the Israel-Hamas discourse without first checking that his own house was in order. He offered strong support for Israel (in contrast to a previous stance) and a seeming rebuke of Tlaib’s initial response. Tlaib shot back that Thanedar’s constituents have been relying on her office for help while he was “busy posting memes,” a claim cosigned by other politicians and his former communications director. Thanedar has done some damage control, but what an opportune time for former state Sen. Adam Hollier to announce a primary challenge. And that’s not even getting into the mix-up over whether Thanedar renounced his Democratic Socialists of America membership or had already been voted out… (Detroit News, Metro Times, Business Insider, Michigan Advance, Freep)
Meet you at the gate: You don’t need to catch a flight to dine at western outposts of Anita’s Kitchen, Plum Market and Atwater Brewery in DTW — Detroit Metro Airport has expanded its Destination Pass program, allowing nonticketed visitors to access terminals, 5 a.m.-9 p.m. daily. Fingers crossed we witness a ’90s romcom “race through the airport” moment during holiday travel. (If that’s you, you’ll just have to scan your ID at a security kiosk before you start running.) (DTW, Freep, TV Tropes)
“Outcast Forever”: WDET has a fascinating look at the past and present of Black motorcycle clubs in Detroit, born out of segregation after the 1967 uprising and leaving a legacy of private clubs that become family for members who want the freedom of the open road (and some violence in a few groups). (WDET)
Best of the rest:
- A guide to the air we breathe in Detroit — and an investigation of a little-known mechanism that lets industry and state regulators avoid federal pollution rules by dropping “exceptional events” like wildfire smoke from air quality reporting…
- Highland Park residents rallied at the state Capitol, saying they’ll end up paying the city’s $24 million-plus debt to the Great Lakes Water Authority…
- DTE stops auto-enrolling customers into online billing after being called out by the state attorney general…
- Two community activists won seats on an advisory council that will negotiate benefits from a planned, almost-$3 billion development around New Center…
- The city started renovations on Hart Plaza’s Dodge fountain, expecting to finish in April — in time for the NFL Draft in Detroit…
- Dan Gilbert’s Bedrock opened a lab for tech companies and startups, blocks away from the Hudson site…
- Metro Detroit’s new “Pizza Pass” program is poised to put pies and prizes into the palms of peckish people at participating pizza places…
(Outlier, Guardian, Michigan Radio, Freep, BridgeDetroit, City of Detroit, Detroit News, WXYZ)
Detroit architects’ favorite Detroit buildings
By Aaron Mondry
Which of the city’s buildings inspire people who design these spaces, the architects? We spoke with four architects in Detroit to learn more about their favorite buildings and why they feel the way they do.
Culture & Community
On the culture docket: a Black-owned grocery store, where to find food around Detroit, a fresh look at the Motown Museum expansion and a call for stories from Black Bottom descendants.
But before that, shoutout to Elspeth Muzzin for correctly guessing last week’s secret spot, Broderick Tower in Campus Martius (so long to the whales!). Think you know this week’s spot? Email email@example.com for bragging rights or to share your favorite underrated grocery stores (we like Papaya Fruit Market in Dearborn), coffee shops or local restaurants.
It’s way too early to be thinking about holiday gifts, but we’re still planning to shop and sip the weekend away in Detroit with an art market at Drifter Coffee in Ferndale, then a craft fair at Brewery Faison, a record sale in Dearborn and an antique sale at Cadieux Cafe.
Elsewhere around town, you can get a first look at the last east RiverWalk expansion at the Uniroyal Promenade grand opening, check out talented teens’ paintings for a good cause at a Mint Artist Guild exhibit or make your own fire cider with Earthseed Detroit.
Written by Aaron, Alex, Dan, Koby, Lynelle, SaMya, Sarah and Kate, who was probably too influenced by the “Love Actually” airport scene.
Very important: The Detroit Lions have an official pet fan club (with a disgraceful lack of photos)