Detroit activist Shabazz's expectations of Mayor Duggan

Malik  Shabazz (Huffin_opt Local minister Malik Shabazz has been in the trenches of Detroit for 30 years. (Pictured: Minister Malik Shabazz)
Whether it is protesting the quality of education in Detroit Public Schools, chasing drug dealers out of some of the city’s abandoned buildings, challenging merchants to stop selling expired foods in local area stores or joining with police and Crime Stoppers to track culprits in murder and rape cases, Shabazz, has been both an ally and a foe to those in government.
The grandson of a legendary Detroit lawmaker, the late David S. Holmes Jr., who served both in the State House and Senate and authored crucial bills such as the Youthful Trainee Act, Minister Shabazz, as his mostly known, doesn’t mince his words.
When he surprised many in the activist community last year by coming out in full support of Mike Duggan for mayor, he said Detroit’s problems were such that the next leadership should not be chosen based on race, but rather on who had the most qualification and preparation for the job.
Others saw his support of Duggan as the product of a long-term relationship between the two. When Duggan was prosecutor of Wayne County, Shabazz was an ally helping to root out illegal drug dealings in the city and chasing drug pushers away with his group.
Often he would stage hours of protest in front of houses identified as drug havens to bring attention to the illegal activities.
He was vocal in opposing the emergency manager in Detroit. With the end of that era, Sha­bazz said he is looking forward to a mayor and city council that will deliver what they were elected to do.
“I expect the city council and the mayor will all come together because it is about Detroiters. It is about people and our children. They were hired to give us all better services,” Shabazz said. “I think in the first 11 months the mayor has done a great job. I like what he is doing with the Land Bank Authority, opening up these houses for families to live in.”
He also cited the Public Lighting Authority noting that, “We have over 25,000 streetlights in our city in less than a year. In other cities it takes three to five years.”
But other observers of the Duggan administration say there are still many streetlights that are yet to be repaired.
“Well, you can’t hit the whole city. It is too big of a job when you are talking about 90,000 lights,” Shabazz said. “My understanding is that 80 percent of the work in lighting authority are being done by Detroiters.
Even though police response time has improved dramatically, Shabazz said there is still more work to be done in light of recent shootings.
That has not shaken his confidence in Detroit Police Chief James Craig, the man who is occupying a seat that was held by five different chiefs in the last five years.
“I feel that Chief Craig and his team are doing a great job. He has the energy and enthusiasm that we need,” Shabazz said. “But the people have to stand up and get involved. We must do our part and work with DPD (Detroit Police Department). We have to end the dope snitch mentality that permeates and just tell. The community has to get involved. It is everybody’s job to fight crime. It is all of our jobs to beautify our city and to build a new reality.”
The influx of resources into Midtown and downtown has sparked a quiet conversation in the Black business community about the stakes they will have in a Duggan administration.
Though Duggan has signaled that he will work towards an inclusive economic agenda when it comes to contracting at the city level, with the dawn of emergency manager and the beginning of a Duggan era, that conversation has heightened.
“Duggan’s history has been to work with Blacks, Latinos and women- owned businesses going back to Wayne County,” Shabazz said. “That has been the mayor’s record and I’m fully expecting to see Black participation among other minority groups. That is why I was happy to hear from the director of public lighting that 80 percent of their work is being done by Detroiters.”
However, among all the other issues Shabazz would like to see Duggan tackle in 2015, none of trumps the high rate of auto insurance in the city.
“Insurance redlining is driving people out of Detroit and is criminalizing all of us,” Shabazz said. “Because you cannot afford auto insurance they make you a criminal behind the wheel. How can you not drive when you have to work, pick your kids from school? Insurance redlining is anti-poor and anti-working class,” he said.
“I want to see the Duggan administration fulfill its campaign promise to do something about these insurance rates and I plan in 2015 to help him along with it by picketing some of the insurance companies. You’ve got a lot of folks who live in Detroit but their address is in the suburbs and that also hurts our electoral power.”
Shabazz’s group can be contacted at 313.646. 3375.

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