Tale of two cities: Detroit

16.02.16: TWENTY BLOCKS of Detroit inner-city tenements are to be abandoned and walled off as part of mayoral plans to mothball 'dead zones'.

In a bizarre ceremony using all the upbeat rituals of an opening, the city's mayor announced that there would be no demolition of abandoned sites in what are deemed "economically dead" areas; instead they would be allowed "to go back to nature at their own pace".

Only police patrols, sniffer dogs, and selected members of the pest control unit will be allowed inside.

The decision to let in the unit has already provoked criticism from environmental groups. They insist that the rat population will not become problematic unless nearby residents use the area as a shooting gallery or a garbage dump.

Meanwhile, a coalition of civil rights organisations is threatening to take action on behalf of the 50 or so former residents who did not want to leave their homes, and who were removed at gunpoint at the 11th hour.

The ceremony was also marred by a picket protesting at the huge fees paid to Hilmar Kleist, the conceptual artist who designed the 20ft barrier that is to contain the condemned area.

"We do not understand why a city that's supposed to be economically dead is paying $1m to have some nincompoop from New York do a replica of the Berlin Wall," a protester told reporters.

  • Millions of Americans are paying extortionate premiums to live in suburban fortresses as inner cities become no-go areas. But big bills for insurance, high-tech security equipment and neighbourhood patrols are better than nothing.
  • The only security available to most inner-city dwellers is the kind you buy at gun stores. This may explain why 25% of African-American men and 20% of Hispanic men can expect to visit the emergency room with gun-related wounds before they have reached the age of 25. MF