Detroit man climbs on roof, successfully prevents house demolition

A protester atop a house in Detroit to prevent a demolition.
A protester climbed atop a house in Detroit to prevent it from being demolished.

Sometimes civil disobedience works.

Before demolition crews arrived this morning, Aaron Timlin climbed on the roof of a house in Detroit to prevent the Land Bank from razing the abandoned home at 16th and Ferry on the west side.

police protest_3545A standoff with police lasted about three hours as Timlin, who lives across the street, insisted he would not come down until the Land Bank agreed not to demolish the city-owned house in the Northwest Goldberg neighborhood. Neighbors came out to support him.

“I’m just asking that the Land Bank not tear down this house,” Timlin said, perched on the roof.

One officer responded, “Who are you to ask us for anything?”

Four to five police cars were at the scene.

While on the roof, Timlin negotiated a deal with the Land Bank to stop the demolition. The Land Bank agreed to delay demolition by two weeks so the protester or his neighbors can buy the house for a price that has not yet been determined. 

After the agreement was reached, a fire truck raised its ladder, and Timlin climbed down and was handcuffed and taken away in a police car shortly before noon.

Neighbors celebrated the successful protest.

The house is one of five vacant homes slated for demolition within a three-block radius of the neighborhood, according to neighbors. They said the neighborhood is coming back and can be salvaged instead of demolished.

Midway through the protest, Detroit police illegally forced the media to leave the block – a clear violation of the First Amendment. But after Motor City Muckraker notified the police administration of the violation, officers were told to let the media and neighbors return. 

Police Chief James Craig has improved relations with the media by providing lawful access on public space, as long as reporters and photographers don’t impede police.

City officials acknowledged they should have spoken with neighbors before deciding to demolish the house.

Click here to see videos of the protest. 

 

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Steve Neavling

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.

  • dirtydog1776

    Applaud, applaud for his efforts to do something to stop the destruction of Detroit. Good luck to you, young man.

  • dirtydog1776

    Applaud, applaud for his efforts to do something to stop the destruction of Detroit. Good luck to you, young man.

  • dirtydog1776

    4 or 5 police cars at the scene? A bit unusual. You usually don’t see that many police unless there is a mass murder or some politician demands protection from the riffraff that gets too close to them.

  • dirtydog1776

    4 or 5 police cars at the scene? A bit unusual. You usually don’t see that many police unless there is a mass murder or some politician demands protection from the riffraff that gets too close to them.

  • kim kraves

    lol who would live in that shithole

  • kim kraves

    lol who would live in that shithole

  • javierjuanmanuel

    Where can we place bets that the moment he went up there, he did not have the cash to buy it ?

    The stunt might get him go fund me money, or someone feels sorry for him, but if he had the cash why did he just not buy it anytime the last few years ?

  • Susan Murdie

    The City of Jackson Michigan has been demolishing perfectly good,
    vacant only homes. The City is able to do this because the only
    requirement of the H4HH grant is the home be vacant.

    I applaud this citizen for trying to get homes back into the hands of HOMEOWNERS.
    Half of Jackson and Detroit rent, there are 18 vacant homes for every homeless person in the US.

    The City of Jackson is using the H4HH money to get new sidewalks and curbs for free.

    We need homeowners, we already have 600 vacant, weedy, blighted, trash
    filled scattered lots because of this insane demolition program.PLEASE
    INVESTIGATE why The H4HH grant allows vacant properties to be purchased
    and demolished with money that was DESIGNATED to help citizens with
    foreclosures, not just giving cities free money for new curbs, gutters,
    and green space… PLEASE INVESTIGATE the MSHDA scam of
    demolitions in our poorest, minority neighborhoods! MSHDA then helps
    developers of new or rehabbed apartments in the City Core.

    • Susan Murdie
    • Susan Murdie
    • Susan Murdie
    • javierjuanmanuel

      that might be true, but if you want them to just move homeless people into a house, right next to where people pay for the house, and pay taxes, that does not work.

      Thats not a real solution. You cannot increase home ownership by devaluing what it takes to get a home.

      • Susan Murdie

        Uh…almost all people are homeless until they own a house ?. I never said or implied that moving the people without a place to live into vacant houses was the only solution.

        • javierjuanmanuel

          Thats not the government definition of homeless. If you rent an apartment you are not homeless. If you live with parents you are not homeless. If you live as a nanny, care taker, butler, nurse, etc you are not homeless. If you are in the military and they provide a home, you are not homeless

        • Susan Murdie

          You missed the wink emoji. ..

  • Dongald TrumPutin

    So the police cleared the entire block of media? That didn’t look good. Good thing there were journalists to tell them how to do their job properly.

  • Maritimer1

    While I am happy the neighbors will have the opportunity to purchase the homes, there needs to be a timeline on how long they can take to renovate these properties. Buying them and then letting them continue to be eyesores, serves no helpful purpose.

    • javierjuanmanuel

      Did they not have the opportunity before ?

      They need to let people move in when they fix up the outside, they can spend years fixing up the inside.

      They need to paint, fix roof, new windows or repair them. Have a good furnace, one bathroom that can be ugly as hell. The rest of the house can be barren and they can take ten years to fix it up as far as I am concerned.

      • Maritimer1

        Obviously you have never renovated a house. The inside has to be up to code before anyone can move in. There is no point in fixing the outside if the inside is a wreck.

        • javierjuanmanuel

          Did you not read the part where I said they need to let. RIF, reading is fundamental.

          My objective was to make the neighborhood look good driving through, and make it safe, functional, and preserve from the elements.

          Code really is mostly safety and integrity stuff. You are allowed to have rusty metal cabinets. Cracked tile. You can be a hack and paint over tile, and do all sorts of ugly hacky stuff. It should not bother anyone if there are a few stud walls open, and plywood floors if it gets a new roof on the house, and the owner can save up the next couple years for new wood floors. He can then patch drywall and money allows etc. Then paint.

          The less hurdles to get into the home the better, so long as the home looks good outside, and is stable.

        • javierjuanmanuel

          Did you not read the part where I said they need to let. RIF, reading is fundamental.

          My objective was to make the neighborhood look good driving through, and make it safe, functional, and preserve from the elements.

          Code really is mostly safety and integrity stuff. You are allowed to have rusty metal cabinets. Cracked tile. You can be a hack and paint over tile, and do all sorts of ugly hacky stuff. It should not bother anyone if there are a few stud walls open, and plywood floors if it gets a new roof on the house, and the owner can save up the next couple years for new wood floors. He can then patch drywall and money allows etc. Then paint.

          The less hurdles to get into the home the better, so long as the home looks good outside, and is stable.

          • Maritimer1

            “Did you not read the part where I said they need to let. RIF, reading is fundamental.”

            Take your own advice. Did YOU not read the part where I noted the place has to be up to code before it can be occupied. I’m talking basics here: running water, power, heat, a WORKING toilet, a roof that doesn’t leak. The BASICS.

            Looking good driving through? Seriously? How about we FIRST make sure the structures are SAFE for habitation. You have a very strange idea of priorities. But then, since you aren’t the one living in the home, what do you care if they are shitting in a bucket?

          • Maritimer1

            “Did you not read the part where I said they need to let. RIF, reading is fundamental.”

            Take your own advice. Did YOU not read the part where I noted the place has to be up to code before it can be occupied. I’m talking basics here: running water, power, heat, a WORKING toilet, a roof that doesn’t leak. The BASICS.

            Looking good driving through? Seriously? How about we FIRST make sure the structures are SAFE for habitation. You have a very strange idea of priorities. But then, since you aren’t the one living in the home, what do you care if they are shitting in a bucket?

    • Cathy McMahan

      oh bullshit, how about stop trying to control people

      • Maritimer1

        Easy for you to say when the eyesore isn’t next to you.

        • Cathy McMahan

          do you live there? I disagree with your timeline, and the the fact you think you have the right to tell them how fast to do it.

          • Maritimer1

            And, prey tell, where did I give a specific timeline? You really need to either learn how to read or stop putting words into other people’s posts. All I said was there needs to BE a timeline. Why? Because, in my considerable years of experience I have found that many people put things off. If no time line is set it could be decades before that home is renovated, if ever. And I also did not say I personally was telling them how long it should take. However, the city and neighbors, working in conjunction with the homeowner, should have the right to set a timeline. One of my former neighbors took on what should have been a minor job. Just working weekends it should have taken no more than 6 months to complete. Five years later the job was not only not done, it was barely started. He had a pocketful of excuses. A pile of lumber and other materials, mainly paid for with a reno grant, sat in the yard, rotting. He finally abandoned the pretense, and the building. The new owner was given a firm timeline and the progress was inspected on a regular basis. The job was completed ahead of schedule because THIS person actually knew what they were doing.

          • Maritimer1

            And, prey tell, where did I give a specific timeline? You really need to either learn how to read or stop putting words into other people’s posts. All I said was there needs to BE a timeline. Why? Because, in my considerable years of experience I have found that many people put things off. If no time line is set it could be decades before that home is renovated, if ever. And I also did not say I personally was telling them how long it should take. However, the city and neighbors, working in conjunction with the homeowner, should have the right to set a timeline. One of my former neighbors took on what should have been a minor job. Just working weekends it should have taken no more than 6 months to complete. Five years later the job was not only not done, it was barely started. He had a pocketful of excuses. A pile of lumber and other materials, mainly paid for with a reno grant, sat in the yard, rotting. He finally abandoned the pretense, and the building. The new owner was given a firm timeline and the progress was inspected on a regular basis. The job was completed ahead of schedule because THIS person actually knew what they were doing.

        • Cathy McMahan

          do you live there? I disagree with your timeline, and the the fact you think you have the right to tell them how fast to do it.

  • JohnJoslin

    Tremendous livestream by Steve Neavling during house-saving action by concerned neighbors!
    Best live news reporting in Detroit. No doubt about it. Wow.-JJoslin(Detroit)

  • Trexinmichigan

    The DPD still doesn’t get why they have federal oversight? Now that they bumped the pay up, hire some police that have read the Constitution and understand it.

    • Donald E. Hodge

      Very Good!

    • javierjuanmanuel

      Pay was just low for the young guys. There are plenty of cops making 80-110k.

      They are getting paid twice or more, they can retire in 25 years, collect pension and live to 100 years old. They are not getting ripped off.

      What they need is more respect, the courts to not be a joke, and not be asked to be everything from a suicide counselor, drug counselor, family counselor, and tasked with arresting violent people who do not want to be arrested with out hurting them. Thats what they need.

  • Third World Detroit

    The Land Bank can redirect its demolition efforts to my block. If it would demolish the Land Bank property with the heroin addicted prostitute squatting inside with her crime wave family, that would be great.

  • Donald E. Hodge

    For a group of people who`s main job is to enforce the law, they seem to understand very little of it.

    • Third World Detroit

      There is no law in the neighborhoods. It’s a rule-of-dopeman environment.