Upset, outrage, sadness and bewilderment. That's what is going through my mind and the minds of many who gathered for Southwest Detroit's 50th annual Cinco de Mayo parade this past Sunday.
A crisp and sunny parade on West Vernor Highway, the main street of Detroit's Hispanic neighborhood, was violently interrupted by the reckless decision of one person to shoot another person.
As it is every year, a multitude of families (young and old) from Detroit and the surrounding communities were gathered. The parade this year started out as a moment to celebrate last fall's election of Raquel Castaneda-Lopez, the city's first Mexican-American City Council member. Detroit is on the brink of emerging from bankruptcy with a new direction. So as this year's Cinco de Mayo celebration kicked off, a new set of politicians and priorities were jockeying to remain or become integral components of a new, more hopeful Detroit.
Regretfully, in the midst of this new atmosphere, a young person was killed. My whole-hearted condolences go to the family. And also to the city.
For all its toughness, Detroit is a fragile place. This has meant that it can fail dramatically, even in the midst of making progress, due to a single person's ill-advised decisions. In fact, this has happened again and again.
Just think of our jailed ex-mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, or the eastside thugs who assaulted suburbanite Steven Utash when he got out of his car to render aid to the pedestrian he had accidentally struck. Do I need to continue?
Details about the Cinco de Mayo shooter and the incident are slowly emerging. Although the early stories blamed the violence on gangs, it now appears to the police this was a dispute between two individuals. Whatever the facts turn out to be, it is so disheartening and sad that this occurred on this day.
Usually, this day and this parade are the highlight of the year for the West Vernor community. It's a huge opportunity for the community at large to gather, listen and make memories. We take pride in our heritage. Tens of hours of coordination and volunteer time are spent so the community can be represented with the very best. This 50th year of the parade we should be issuing a big thank you to the Mexican Patriotic Committee that organizes this event and to all who support it financially.
Unfortunately, this murder now forces us to reassess yet again why individuals feel that their situation justifies them to lash out in the most violent way, even in front of the whole community -- all those small kids, seniors, moms and visitors. Why do some feel justified in acting out their quarrels even if it puts everyone at risk. The impact of this act reverberates throughout everything with the loss of life, loss of pride, loss of opportunity to showcase our community.
Our community has only a few opportunities to celebrate our heritage and our historical place in this city. Now, our justified celebration is reeling from this act. A family is mourning and a community joins them.
With so many external obstacles between us and our dreams, it is especially awful that we have to strive against ourselves so often and so needlessly. But as Detroit's motto says, we know Southwest Detroit will rise from the ashes just as it has again and again.