Friday, October 17, 2008
Devil's Night, which is traditionally October 30, the night before Halloween, originally was a variation of "Mischief Night", where young people would commit minor acts of vandalism such as throwing eggs against windows, hanging toilt paper in trees, or overturning garbage cans. "Devil's Night" or "Mischief Night" acts had been recorded as far back as the 1930s.
However, in Detroit starting in the 1970s, Devil's Night turned into a horrible night of arson. It started when homeowners or business owners who saw their property values decline decided to burn down their property for the insurance. Over the years, Devil's Night arson escalated into such a force that it attracted worldwide negative attention to Detroit. By the mid-1980s, 500- 800 fires were set each year.
By 1996, the new mayor of Detroit, Dennis Archer, had had enough. He decided to change the paradigm by first changing the name from "Devil's Night" to "Angels' Night" and challenging the citizens of Detroit to take their neighborhoods and city back.
October 29 - 31 involves over 50,000 volunteers, one of the largest municipal volunteer initatives, who patrol the streets and look out for abandoned homes, and with the mandatory 6 pm to 6 am curfew where unaccompanied children and teens are taken into custody until their parents come to the police station, the number of fires has declined back to regular levels.