Johnny Revel isn’t going anywhere – at least not until someone makes him.
For more than a year, the bald, self-described war veteran with boozy breath has been making money protecting people’s cars at the abandoned Packard Plant, which attracts photographers, journalists and filmmakers from across the globe. His job was unofficial, of course, because the plant had become a lawless wasteland under delinquent ownership.
But now that the sprawling plant has an active owner, Johnny is no longer needed. The new owner, Peru-based developer Fernando Palazuelo, has asked Johnny to leave but to no avail.
Then earlier this month, Johnny claimed he badly injured his leg at the plant and asked Palazuelo for $10,000. Wearing a brace around his leg, Johnny had no time for questions and recently tried to chase away a Motor City Muckraker contributor.
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“Get the fuck out of here,” Johnny yelled.
When Palazuelo hired security, he thought he’d be dealing with vandals and scrappers – not a stubborn parking attendant.
The good news is, scrappers are being chased out by new security. Over the past two years, metal scavengers had grown bolder and more reckless, causing fires, tearing down buildings and trying to topple the enormous water tower.
The Packard also attracted vandals and robbers. On Christmas eve, urban explorers found a dead body.
Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.