The Spark

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

Who’s Your Papa?

Sep 15, 2014

The 57-year-old son of the Ilitch family was recently picked up on a drug charge, possession of crack cocaine. Ilitch family members are the multi-billionaire owners of the fourth largest pizza chain in the country, the Detroit Tigers baseball team, the Detroit Red Wings hockey team, part owners of a casino, and among the biggest recipients of Michigan and Detroit tax breaks and subsidies.

Unlike all those young black men picked up on exactly the same charge, who usually spend years in prison, even on the first offense, Ilitch was given only probation, with one week of community service attached.

There has long been a disproportion in drug sentencing: possession of cocaine, the drug of choice for the wealthy, has usually resulted in little more than a slap on the wrist – if that. Crack cocaine, the cheaper drug used by the poor, leads to long sentences, even for a first offense. Authorities claim it’s because crack is so much more dangerous.

Except, of course, when your papa is rich and one of the movers and shakers in the area.