EPISODE NINETEEN

From the Ashes

One of the towers of the Brewster-Douglass Housing Projects is demolished in 2014, with the Renaissance Center looming in the background. Plans were made for the former public housing site to be redeveloped by a partnership including billionaire Dan Gilbert, who has played a role in many real estate projects in downtown Detroit.  Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.

One of the towers of the Brewster-Douglass Housing Projects is demolished in 2014, with the Renaissance Center looming in the background. Plans were made for the former public housing site to be redeveloped by a partnership including billionaire Dan Gilbert, who has played a role in many real estate projects in downtown Detroit. Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.

In the Crimetown Season 2 finale, Kwame Kilpatrick begins his 28-year prison sentence. Although he still maintains his innocence, his chances of a retrial are slim. Meanwhile, Detroit is undergoing a remarkable economic transformation. But who is benefitting from the Motor City miracle? And is the era of crime and corruption really over?

LISTEN TO EPISODE NINETEEN


Unexpected Blessings

Kwame Kilpatrick, right, with one of his cellmates and another inmate. Kwame says that hearing about the life stories and long sentences of his fellow inmates has been an eye-opening experience.  Courtesy of the Free Kwame Project.

Kwame Kilpatrick, right, with one of his cellmates and another inmate. Kwame says that hearing about the life stories and long sentences of his fellow inmates has been an eye-opening experience. Courtesy of the Free Kwame Project.

Kwame began his sentence in federal prison at El Reno Correctional Facility in Oklahoma in 2014. He began singing in the church choir, mentoring other inmates, and taking classes in business law and other subjects.  Courtesy of the Free Kwame Project.

Kwame began his sentence in federal prison at El Reno Correctional Facility in Oklahoma in 2014. He began singing in the church choir, mentoring other inmates, and taking classes in business law and other subjects. Courtesy of the Free Kwame Project.

It’s hard to have self-pity when you hear some of these stories of guys that have been here since they were 18, 19.
— Kwame Kilpatrick
Kwame dedicates most of his monthly phone minutes to keeping in touch with his three sons: his twins Jelani and Jalil, and his youngest son Jonas.  Courtesy of the Free Kwame Project.

Kwame dedicates most of his monthly phone minutes to keeping in touch with his three sons: his twins Jelani and Jalil, and his youngest son Jonas. Courtesy of the Free Kwame Project.

Kwame’s mother Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick lost her bid for re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010 amid her son’s corruption scandals. She continues to support his efforts to be set free.  Courtesy of the Free Kwame Project.

Kwame’s mother Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick lost her bid for re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010 amid her son’s corruption scandals. She continues to support his efforts to be set free. Courtesy of the Free Kwame Project.


A TALE OF TWO LIVES

In 2015, President Barack Obama became the first sitting president to visit a federal prison. Obama visited El Reno Correctional Facility, where Kwame Kilpatrick was locked up. Kwame had no expectations that he would have a chance to meet with his former political ally, but the visit’s symbolism was not lost on the former mayor, or on the local press. Courtesy of WXYZ.

I’m in a cell, and watching the presidential motorcade outside of a barred window. It’s a heck of a thing in my life.
— Kwame Kilpatrick

TOO MUCH TIME

Kwame Kilpatrick’s youngest son Jonas wrote the song “Too Much Time” to support his father’s attempts at a resentencing. The family continues to push for Kwame’s freedom through the Free Kwame Project. Courtesy of Jonas Kilpatrick.

His family awaits / so give the mandate / to vacate the 28.
— Jonas Kilpatrick

TAKE BACK THE MOTHERLAND

Supporters gather around Coleman A. Young II at his Take Back the Motherland rally on the eve of the 2017 mayoral election. He was joined by several other speakers, including his campaign manager, Adolph Mongo, who created the controversial lynching ad for Kwame Kilpatrick in 2005.  Photo by John White.

Supporters gather around Coleman A. Young II at his Take Back the Motherland rally on the eve of the 2017 mayoral election. He was joined by several other speakers, including his campaign manager, Adolph Mongo, who created the controversial lynching ad for Kwame Kilpatrick in 2005. Photo by John White.

Coleman A. Young II pauses for a moment after voting at the Butzel Family Recreation Center on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017 in Detroit.  Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.

Coleman A. Young II pauses for a moment after voting at the Butzel Family Recreation Center on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017 in Detroit. Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.

The speeches at the Take Back the Motherland rally laid out the case for getting Detroit’s white mayor, Mike Duggan, out of office, and presented Coleman A. Young II as the candidate of the black community. Speakers also frequently referenced the legacy of Coleman A. Young Sr.  Photo by Drew Nelles.

The speeches at the Take Back the Motherland rally laid out the case for getting Detroit’s white mayor, Mike Duggan, out of office, and presented Coleman A. Young II as the candidate of the black community. Speakers also frequently referenced the legacy of Coleman A. Young Sr. Photo by Drew Nelles.

His daddy was a bad man. His daddy didn’t take no stuff from nobody!
— Adolph Mongo

Motor City Miracle?

Mike Duggan speaks to supporters after being re-elected as Detroit's mayor at the Renaissance Ballroom of the Detroit Marriott Renaissance Center on Tuesday November 7, 2017. Duggan won 72 percent of the vote, beating Coleman A. Young II by a margin of more than two to one.  Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.

Mike Duggan speaks to supporters after being re-elected as Detroit's mayor at the Renaissance Ballroom of the Detroit Marriott Renaissance Center on Tuesday November 7, 2017. Duggan won 72 percent of the vote, beating Coleman A. Young II by a margin of more than two to one. Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.

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Detroit_Free_Press_Thu__Jun_15__2017_.jpg
This’ll suck the soul out of you. No human wants to live next to this.
— Charlie LeDuff
Demolition pits have become a public safety hazard and a symbol of Detroit’s troubled demolition program. Derrick Pratt, a resident on Auburn Street, points out where he slipped into a hole next to his house in February 2019.  Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.

Demolition pits have become a public safety hazard and a symbol of Detroit’s troubled demolition program. Derrick Pratt, a resident on Auburn Street, points out where he slipped into a hole next to his house in February 2019. Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.

In the shadows of the Greektown Casino Hotel, demolition began on the failed Wayne County Jail project in 2018. After millions of dollars were poured into the project, construction was halted due to cost overruns. The property was later sold to a private business concern led by billionaire Dan Gilbert.  Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.

In the shadows of the Greektown Casino Hotel, demolition began on the failed Wayne County Jail project in 2018. After millions of dollars were poured into the project, construction was halted due to cost overruns. The property was later sold to a private business concern led by billionaire Dan Gilbert. Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.


This episode is dedicated to the memory of Mike McKay. Mike’s widow, Sonia Brown, runs a nonprofit in Detroit called Auntie Na's House. If you want to donate, you can visit their website at auntienashouse.org.


EPISODE CREDITS

Crimetown is Marc Smerling and Zac Stuart-Pontier. This season is made in partnership with Gimlet Media and Spotify. It’s produced by John White, Rob Szypko, Soraya Shockley, and Samantha Lee. The senior producer is Drew Nelles. Editing by Zac Stuart-Pontier and Marc Smerling. Fact-checking by Jennifer Blackman. This episode was mixed, sound designed, and scored by Kenny Kusiak. Original music this season composed by Homer Steinweiss. We recorded some original music at Rustbelt Studios in Detroit in partnership with Detroit Sound Conservancy. Check them out at detroitsoundconservancy.org. Thanks to our amazing studio musicians: Kent Crawley, Aisha Ellis, Ian Finklestein, Gregory “Greco” Freeman, David Lee Spradley, Brandon Williams, Larry Fratangelo, Takashi Iio, and Ufuoma D. Wallace. Special thanks to Carleton Gholz and Maurice “Pirahnahead” Herd. Additional music this season by John Kusiak, Kenny Kusiak, Jon Ivans, Edwin, and Bienart.

Additional mixing by Bobby Lord. Our theme song is “Politicians In My Eyes” by Death. Our credit track this week is a very special cover of “Politicians In My Eyes,” by Detroit Soul Ambassador Melvin Davis. Produced by Drew Schultz at D&S Productions. Archival research by Brennan Rees. Archival footage courtesy of WXYZ. Show art and design by James Cabrera and Elise Harven. Thanks to the Detroit Free Press, Peter Bhatia, Jim Schaeffer, Melanie Maxwell, Mary Schroeder, Bob Schedlbower, the Walter P. Reuther Library at Wayne State University, Mary Wallace, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African-American History, Melissa Samson, the Detroit Historical Society, Brendan Roney, Austin Mitchell, Ryan Murdock, Kaitlin Roberts, Allie Delyannis, Jeff Risk, Jackson Kusiak, and everyone who shared their stories with us. Detroit is an amazing place, and it's been an honor to tell a small part of its story.