The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

While the All-Stars played and politicians preened, homes burned

Jul 18, 2005

While the baseball All-Star game was being played in Detroit, the fire department let a fire burn on in the nearby Jeffries East public housing project.

Firefighters at the Alexandrine station, who had been ordered to respond only to emergencies connected to the All-Star Game, sat out the fire. Instead, fire engines had to come from as far as five miles away to put out the fire. At least six apartments were destroyed and as many as eight more damaged. The vice president of the firefighters' union said that the damage could have been limited to two apartments had the firefighters from the Alexandrine station responded.

The fire commissioner Tyrone Scott claims to have no knowledge of the order not to respond. In typical bureaucratic fashion, he says only that he is "investigating" the matter.

Investigation be damned – light a finger under his tail and that of all the other officials who played a game while homes burned.

A resident of one of the damaged apartments, Lucy Huntley, put it this way, "I may live in the projects, but I'm not a bum. To Kwame Kilpatrick, the All-Star Game is important. To me we are important. The All-Star Game wasn't on fire, was it?"