On Detroit’s west side, just six blocks from where the 1967 riots broke out, a battered car is wedged into the corner of a partially collapsed two-story commercial building on Linwood, buried by piles of bricks and concrete.
For three days, people have been stopping to see if someone was trapped or injured inside the crushed silver sedan.
The car has been empty since shortly after midnight Sunday morning, when more than two dozen firefighters and medics painstakingly removed the critically injured driver, saving his life.
Since then, the scene has been the same. One side of the city-owned building is collapsed, debris scattered across the sidewalk and the side of the road at the intersection of Gladstone. Firefighters have been called back to the scene at least three times because 911 callers thought someone was still inside the battered sedan.
The Fire Department requested a city crew to address the collapse early Sunday morning but a dispatcher told them no one would be available until Monday, which came and went without anything happening.
When asked about the building late Monday afternoon, Mayor Mike Duggan’s office said it would investigate.
The city wasn’t as casual when the abandoned First Unitarian Church on Woodward burned down between downtown and Midtown in May. The church was still smoldering when the city’s emergency contractor demolished most of what was left of the building.
In many neighborhoods, dangerous buildings are left to rot, even after they are charred in a fire.
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.