Saturday, November 27, 2010

Enjoying the Safety of Portland

Folks who spend most of their time on one of the coasts often express unnecessary concern over my trips to Flint and Detroit. In fact, people from Grand Blanc sometimes look at me like I'm crazy when I describe my visits to Welch Boulevard or Kearsley Park. I used to get mildly insulted, but now I just figure that they mean well.

So what happens when I spend the night in Portland — considered one of the safest, best-run cities in the country — on a road trip?

The New York Times reports:

Federal agents in a sting operation arrested a Somali-born teenager just as he tried blowing up a van he believed was loaded with explosives at a crowded Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland, authorities said.

The bomb was an elaborate fake supplied by the agents and the public was never in danger, authorities said.

Mohamed Osman Mohamud, 19, was arrested at 5:40 p.m. Friday just after he dialed a cell phone that he thought would set off the blast but instead brought federal agents and police swooping down on him.

Yelling "Allahu Akbar!" — Arabic for "God is great!" — Mohamud tried to kick agents and police after he was taken into custody, according to prosecutors.

This happened two blocks from our hotel. We considered going to the ceremony, but like any good Flint Expatriate I lobbied for a trip to the bar instead.


  1. Good point. However, if the bomb were to go off. It would only equal the murder rate for the entire year in Flint. If you were to turn that number into a percentage. It would STILL be lower in Portland, then Flint.

    I get offended when people sneer and make rude comments about Flint. When 90% of the time, they have not been in the city for 20 years. Other then to deal with the county Gov.

    If no one patronises the businesses. The businesses cannot exist. Unless the Government steps in of course. And no one is going to patronise a business if the crime rate is OUTRAGEOUS...

    Don't forget, small businesses employ more people then anyone else. Stop the crime, increases business, increases population, increases the appeal of the city.

  2. Drugs are the reason for a lot of the murders, and it's not just Flint or Detroit, or even the USA. Look at the drug violence in Mexico. And we can't even blame the US War on Drugs for turf wars in another country. If there were no one to try to stop it, why would it make it better in other countries? Let's stop the self flagellation of the United States for problems elsewhere. Everyone knows, except a few UN types, that the US cannot solve all the world's problems. Stop the hate for the US-here and elsewhere.


Thanks for commenting. I moderate comments, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at