City calls it quits on 'Angels Night' efforts due to decrease in arson

Posted at 7:47 PM, Oct 30, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-30 19:47:43-04

After three decades of a campaign to hamper down on arson and “devils night,” the city is turning a page and officially ending what was popularly coined Angels Night. 

After a decrease in incidents, city officials said the focus this Halloween would shift to a celebration with a new initiative called "Halloween in the D," with fun activities in the days leading up to Halloween for families. 

The reason behind the move? Fewer vacant homes, they say, which is sparking a decline in arson. 

In the 1980s, the city experienced hundreds of arsons on abandoned structures. Over 800 at its peak in 1984. That followed for several years, but that number was down to just 54 in 2017.

Despite the re-focus, at least one group in the city says it will continue to take action tonight. 

"We feel that Angels Night is more than just a program. It’s really a celebration," said John George of Blighbusters. 

George started the blight-fighting group 30 years ago and actually coined the term “Angels Night” himself, urging former mayor Dennis Archer to turn it into a campaign. 

He notes the progress that’s been made to secure abandoned properties. Nearly 15,000 have been secured over the last several years, but he says there’s still much more work to be done. 

"We still have 15- to 20,000 structures that need to be dealt with," George said. 

He says he will use Angels Night every year to get a team of people out patrolling the streets, helping the community and celebrating what has been a success. 

Blightbusters says a group of 100 volunteers are heading out to patrol the streets the Tuesday before Halloween. The Detroit Police Department also wants people to know that even though they’re shifting the campaign focus, safety will remain top of mind, and sufficient patrolling will be in place over the next couple of nights.