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Old March 4th, 2011, 03:25 PM   #1
mohammed wong
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Anti Gentrification Terrorism in Grand Rapids Michigan


GRAND RAPIDS – Authorities announced this morning that they are offering a $20,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of suspects connected to the arson and threatening letter that has shaken the East Hills neighborhood.

The amount quadruples the $5,000 reward that was initially offered through the Michigan Arson Prevention Committee.

Grand Rapids Police Chief Kevin Belk announced the reward today and said his department is working in conjunction with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspection service and state police to track down the person behind the “urban terrorism.”

Anti-gentrification militants claim to have placed three incendiary devices in the 914 Blodgett St. SE townhouse about 4 a.m. on Feb. 22.

Those claims contradict the discovery made Tuesday that accelerant was used in two areas on the east side of the structure.

The letter writer threatens the neighborhood with violence including kidnapping and muggings if “suburbanite” residents do not move within two months and return the area to low-income housing.
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Old March 4th, 2011, 03:27 PM   #2
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MSU study focuses on GR gentrification
From 2002
Updated: Monday, 28 Feb 2011, 11:24 PM EST
Published : Monday, 28 Feb 2011, 9:39 PM EST

By Marc Thompson
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - Gentrification may be taking place in Grand Rapids' East Hills neighborhood, but it's not necessarily bad or good, a 2002 Michigan State University study concluded.

The people behind a letter that went out to certain East Hills residents are focused on gentrification, which the dictionary defines as "the process of renewal and rebuilding, accompanying the influx of middle-class or affluent people into deteriorating areas that often displaces poorer residents."

The group appears to be fighting against the gentrification of the East Hills neighborhood.

Even nine years ago, the study found gentrification in the Grand Rapids neighborhood. It defines it as a process of property restoration in lower-income neighborhoods.

But the effects can be positive and negative.

For example, gentrification can improve the viability of the neighborhood, but it also can also displace lower-income residents.

It can increase the home ownership rate, but at the same time, lead to a loss of diversity in the neighborhood. It can provide new jobs, but decrease social services and cause conflict between old and new residents.

The 2002 study looked at several factors to determine if gentrification was taking place in the East Hills neighborhood. It said after decades of decline, home ownership was on the rise -- the opposite of most of the city.

More whites moved into the predominantly black neighborhood, jumping from 33% in 1990 to nearly 44% in 2000. The study said 75% of the structures in the area appeared to have undergone some form of renovation.
Since the 2002 study, the East Hills neighborhood has grown significantly.

Most of the businesses recently targeted, vandalized and burned include the condos, The Winchester, Meanwhile and Green Well -- which have all sprung up within the past four years.

Has the issue ever been on city officials' radar?

"I think that we have worked really hard to create a community where there is diversity around housing -- to make sure there is a place for people, regardless of their income," said Rosalynn Bliss, one of the city commissioners for the East Hills neighborhood. "That's why even in the city, we've worked really hard to develop a good solid policy around low-income housing. We work really hard and spend millions of dollars to make sure that there is low-income housing in every community."

The focus should be on finding the person or people responsible for the vandalism, arson and threats, Bliss added.
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Old March 4th, 2011, 03:32 PM   #3
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Here is the Letter


GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM)- Homeowners in Grand Rapids' East Hills neighborhood remain on edge after an arsonist set fire to a condominium and wrote a threatening letter to neighbors.

The letter threatened more violence if the residents of the "upscale" condos do not move out of their homes and back to the suburbs.

"It's very frustrating," says Jonathan Bradford, President of ICCF a non-profit housing service organization. "Last year we served about 2,300 families with housing units or housing education."

The ICCF is working with two other developers to restore a four acre piece of land off of Cherry Street, in the East Hills neighborhood. Last week, the project suffered a setback. Someone set fire to one of the condominiums and left a threatening letter for the neighbors. It said move back to the suburbs or face more violence.

"People who would seek to un-do what's going on in the area are people that either don't understand what's happening or have a selfish kind of agenda."

The group called themselves anti-gentrification militants. The letter demanded an immediate transition to low-income housing. It's not the first time the area has seen vandalism. In December, local businesses were sprayed with graffiti. "Some of the graffiti said this is not your neighborhood, when in fact, it is their neighborhood. When you have the majority of your staff and management living within a 5-10 minutes walking distance, this is their neighborhood when you things like urban renewal equals racist, that's not true, this is one of the diverse neighborhoods in the city of Grand Rapids," says East Hills Resident Rachel Lee.

Investigators aren't saying if the two incidents are related. Either way, Jonathan Bradford says it's obvious that someone wants to stop what he calls progress. "This is a very caring community. Grand Rapids succeeds because we are all engaged with each other or in the pursuit of the good things with life."
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Old March 4th, 2011, 06:06 PM   #4
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Some people just cannot tolerate the idea of normal, evolutionary change....

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Old March 5th, 2011, 04:45 AM   #5
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as much as I believe terrorism is not the answer. i also think that low-income housing should have been a part of the new developments
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Old March 5th, 2011, 06:15 AM   #6
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Because there's not enough low-income housing in the East Hills...
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Old March 6th, 2011, 01:30 AM   #7
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We've had some minor issues in the next neighborhood over regarding gentrification. Thankfully though, there hasn't been anything like this in OTE! To the residents of East Hill, don't give in and don't move out!
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Old March 6th, 2011, 09:02 PM   #8
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God Forbid any area in Michigan was improving is my sentiments....
Michigan was the only state to lose people.

Some cities in Michigan should be doing well.
I am still pulling for Detroit......

Would anyone say that gentrification is a MAJOR
problem or even a MAJOR occurence in Michigan?

I dont see gentrification as a problem, its just the
opposite of white flight, its also necessary
otherwise the buildings would just decay and have to be
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Old April 26th, 2011, 04:31 AM   #9
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Deadline Passes, Antigentrification Threat not carried out.


GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - The East Hills neighborhood in Grand Rapids is relieved that there has been no new violence since an arsonist set fire to a condo and wrote a threatening letter in February.

"I did think a little bit that I hope to wake up to good news in the neighborhood and not bad news," says Rachel Lee with the East Hills Council of Neighbors.

There has been no new violence. "Something has happened. What has happened is that neighbors have talked to neighbors who haven't talked to each other before." Lee says there is a heightened sense of awareness. "So, to be able to look out for each other, when someone's not home or look out for each others house, it's just something that builds that community."

The letter may have brought the community together, but the message was not ignored. The person or group stated that they wanted to stop gentrification and new development that was driving up rent, and forcing long-time low income residents out. Grand Rapids Police, along with the ATF and the FBI continue to investigate. no arrests have been made.

"I think that eventually they will be. it's just going to take a few drinks at the bar, a friend of a friend who will open up and tell someone."

The Grand Rapids Police say they will continue stepped-up patrols in the area and there is still a $20,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. If you have any information you're asked to call Grand Rapids Police or Silent Observer at (616) 774-2345 (616) 774-2345.
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