'Satan is running amok': Rally attendees decry ongoing Detroit violence

George Hunter
The Detroit News

Detroit — Another day, another rally seeking justice for Detroit homicide victims.

Less than 24 hours after residents gathered to remember the victims of a triple homicide, a 5-year-old boy, his mother and her boyfriend, another gathering was held Monday to draw attention to a December 2021 double killing.

Malik Shabazz, right, founder of the Detroit New Black Panther Nation/New Marcus Garvey Movement, leads a small group in prayer during a rally for the families of Marquese Smith and Teron Flowers at the Martin Luther King Apartments in Detroit on Monday, Feb. 28, 2022.

Monday's assemblage at the Martin Luther King Apartments focused on finding the killers of Marquese Smith and Teron Flowers, who were fatally shot on Dec. 15 following a fight outside a liquor store on Chene Street near the east side apartment complex.

Attendees also discussed the culture which they say contributes to a violent crime rate in Detroit that is perennially among the highest in the United States.

"This is happening every day," said Malik Shabazz, founder of the Detroit New Black Panther Nation/New Marcus Garvey Movement and organizer of Monday's get-together. "Satan is running amok."

About a dozen people huddled in the apartment complex's parking lot to pray before passing out Crime Stoppers of Michigan flyers touting a reward of up to $2,500 for information about the killings of Smith and Flowers. The group was joined by two Detroit Police Department officers and a second deputy chief.

Police say the killings were sparked by a brawl that broke out at the liquor store at about 6:30 p.m. The fight spilled out into the surrounding neighborhood, and when the shooting started people bolted in multiple directions, including into the expansive MLK complex.

Smith was shot several times as he ran between two apartment buildings, while Flowers was gunned down in the middle of St. Aubin Street, later dying in the hospital, police said.

Smith's grandmother Denise Baltimore said she appreciated those who came to Monday's gathering.

"This has been hard on my family," she said. "I don't know what needs to be done to stop all this killing. There's just so much ... so many guns."

There have been 39 homicides in Detroit in 2022 as of Monday, down 7% from the 42 killings during the same period in 2021, according to Detroit police statistics. Nonfatal shootings are down 19% year-to-date from 2021, police said.

Malik Shabazz, right, founder of the Detroit New Black Panther Nation/New Marcus Garvey Movement, and Dindi Maloney, a victim advocate, talk about the deaths of Marquese Smith and Teron Flowers during a rally at the Martin Luther King Apartments in Detroit on Monday, Feb. 28, 2022.

Shabazz, who organizes dozens of similar events each year, said Detroiters need to be as outraged about killings in the community as they are about police misconduct.

"We can’t wait for police or White folks to do something dastardly before we act," he said. "Where are the marches (when a resident is killed)? Where are the boycotts?"

Gwen Parks is caring for her three grandchildren after the December 2021 killing of their mother, 32-year-old Latima Moore. Moore's dismembered body was found in the home of her boyfriend Rondell Watters. Watters faces murder and dismemberment/mutilation charges.

"I came out here to offer support because I know how it is to go through hell," Parks said. "Something needs to be done. This killing needs to stop. What's going wrong? It starts at home. You've got young kids who are criminals because nobody is teaching them any better."

Sam Riddle, director of the National Action Network's Michigan Chapter, agreed.

"The violence is because of the poverty and the street values that permeate households in Detroit," said Riddle, who lives near the Martin Luther King apartments. "Street values contribute to crime.

"Street values are the lack of concern for human life, everyone for themselves, the self-hate, the lack of love, and the lack of a viable family structure," Riddle said. "That's something we don't like to deal with.

"It's not enough to point the finger at racism and poverty; they are there, but we can do better with our families," Riddle said. "Parents need to stop trying to be buddies with their kids. We have responsibilities we are shirking, no matter how poor we are or how much racism we're subjected to."

In addition to the Crime Stoppers flyers, Shabazz and the other volunteers passed out packets containing information about a free preschool, city of Detroit and police department job opportunities and a list of city officials to contact with questions or concerns.

The get-togethers don't just focus on crime. Shabazz has a rally planned for 1 p.m. Wednesday at Dequindre and Radcliff on Detroit's east side to pass out Crime Stoppers flyers seeking information about the driver who ran down 27-year-old Stephen Radcliff of Detroit while he was walking on March 17, 2020. 

Denise Baltimore of Clinton Township talks about the death of her grandson Marquese Smith during a rally at Martin L. King Apartments in Detroit on Monday, Feb. 28, 2022.

Another rally is scheduled for 1 p.m. Friday at 19451 Greenfield to draw attention to the case of Zion Foster, a 17-year-old Eastpointe high school student who has been missing since Jan. 4. 

A Detroit teen has been charged as an adult in the triple homicide in which Caleb Harris, 5, his mother LaShon Marshall and her boyfriend Aaron Benson were each shot multiple times in their home on Evergreen. Malcolm Hardy, 16, was charged as an adult with first-degree murder and armed robbery in connection with the incident.

"The way you solve this problem is by uplifting the community, and through love," Shabazz said. "It all starts there. Love, respect and communication ... and taking responsibility for our own people."


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Twitter: @GeorgeHunter_DN