Michigan Central Station
Flight of the dead: Suburban families move loved ones from Detroit cemeteries
Detroit has lost half its population since its heyday of the 1950s, and every year the city hemorrhages an estimated 5,000 people more. First it was white flight to the suburbs; then with the city's continued spiral into poverty and violence, blacks began to flee to those same suburbs. And while census figures show that whites are returning to some of the nation's largest cities, Detroit is experiencing a flight of a different kind. As the Imbrunones' second funeral demonstrates, Detroit is experiencing the flight of the dead.
The movement of the dead from the nation's largest black city to its overwhelmingly white suburbs is a small, though socially symbolic phenomenon, revealing the grinding problems of race, crime and economics that plague both sides of Eight Mile.
From 2002 through 2007, the remains of about 1,000 people have been disinterred and moved out of the city, according to permits stored in metal filing cabinets in the city's department of health. Looked at in another way, for about every 30 living human beings who leave Detroit, one dead human being follows. Moreover, anecdotal evidence compiled by a Detroit professor suggests the figure may be twice as high, meaning city records may be incomplete and that thousands upon thousands of deceased people have been relocated from the city over the past 20 years.
According to Dr. Stephen Vogel, the official numbers are vastly under reported...
Dr. Stephen Vogel, dean of architecture at the University of Detroit Mercy, believes the out-migration of the dead from Detroit is undercounted.
He and his researchers conducted a study three years ago, interviewing the director of each of Detroit's 28 cemeteries. According to that study, about 400 to 500 disinterments occur each year.
When even the dead flee you know you have hit rock bottom.
Could people left on their own ever do this to themselves? You look at the pockets of poverty in Detroit and those exposed by Katrina and you see the hand of government all over them.
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