‘Fortress Warren’ Talk Inflammatory, Detroit Leaders Say

Dan Cortez, Detroit Free Press, Apr. 9

Warren Mayor Mark Steenbergh’s provocative description of his city as a “fortress” standing against crime pushing north from Detroit drew stern reactions from Detroit leaders Friday.

Steenbergh’s comments came Thursday in his State of the City address as he urged Warren’s City Council to pass a nearly 1-mill tax increase to avoid the layoffs of about 25 police officers.

“I consider us to be Fortress Warren,” Steenbergh said. “We are a fortress standing against the growth of crime coming at us from the south. I want to maintain the kind of police presence that is a real threat to anyone who wants to come here to commit a crime.”

Steenbergh’s deputy mayor, Mike Greiner, said his boss’ comment wasn’t racial. He said police reports show that Detroit residents commit one-third of the crimes in Warren. He said police patrols focus on areas of Warren south of 10 Mile.

“It’s not a matter of race. It’s a matter of numbers,” Greiner said. “You have to speak the truth at a certain point. It’s not a matter of opinion.”

Outside confirmation about how many of Warren’s crimes are committed by Detroit residents was not available Friday.

In Warren, virtually an all-white city in 1970, integration has been a slow process. By 1980, 2 percent of the population was made up of minorities. That number rose to 3 percent in 1990. According to 2000 census figures, more than 91 percent of Warren residents are white. African Americans make up less than 3 percent of the population. Most black residents live in Warren’s south end.

More than 80 percent of Detroit residents are African American, according to the 2000 census.

Detroit leaders said Steenbergh’s comments hurt efforts to promote cooperation between the neighbor cities.

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