Greg Thrasher

 By Greg Thrasher, VOD contributing editor

Detroit like many other urban venues across the nation is on the edge of a massive gentrification and urban migration movement that not only means housing and property changes but a cultural and political upheaval is  also percolating and is currently underway. From the regionalization of the city’s water department to the resurgence of the mid-town area to a dismantling of DPS. Urban renewal, gentrification, suburban sprawl, regionalization, and even resizing of the city speaks to the new landscape in Detroit and other urban venues in America. 
Cities like Detroit are now the new Urban Frontier and as such all of these themes and movements create tension, economic shifts, cultural sparks and of course political posturing. From who gets to be the new sheriff in town to how the city is to be governed this new urban landscape brings with it all manner of opportunity including the specter of conflict and growth. How one navigates in the new Urban Frontier remains a critical issue for this new urban terrain for those living in the new urban frontier and for those observing it from afar.

Corktown presents an object lesson regarding the urban frontier; Charlie Duncan, (shown here) is a homeless Corktown resident who was attacked by Steve DiPonio last Oct. 6; DiPonio attempted to drag Mr. Duncan behind his truck, reminiscent of the Jasper Texas lynching. DiPonio currently faces trial for assault with intent to commit murder, but has an expensive attorney since his family owns a wealthy city contractor, Jay Dee Contractors. His trial is set for later this year.

Some have argued that old neighborhoods would never return become renewed and refreshed without the injection of new capital and new people. Others have argued that such injections of new people destroy the historical fabric of a community and make the new landscape a reflection of new money, different hues and different agendas.
Detroit’s demographics reflect a majority Black population yet the latest wave of gentrification is a different hue and class orientation. The emergence of class and elitism is reflective of this new urban frontier. The recent recession in the nation has slowed the emergence of the new urban frontier but it will not stop it.
With the new urban frontier expect the following: a more diverse array of public officials, an educational system that is driven by demands of class and higher expectations, an urban poor that becomes more hostile and hopeless. Plus with the new urban frontier demographic we can also expect a cultural terrain that is inspired by Robo Cop statues, gritty literature and cultural artifacts that do not embrace the lyrics of rhythm and blues but the sounds of world music and the chatter of social networks.

Steve DiPonio

"Robocop" William Melendez

The new Urban Frontier will be either a gateway to a better city or a guarded fortress. I expect a combination of everything under the sun…..

Editor’s note: It is particularly appalling that serious consideration is being given to building a “Robocop” statue in Detroit. Detroit police officer William Melendez was known as “Robocop” for his vicious attacks on poor southwest side Detroiters. He and 17 other cops were indicted by the Department of Justice in 2004 but during the trial of the first eight, a predominantly suburban jury acquitted them. It is not known if Melendez is still on the force. Go to and to read about Detroit’s “Robocop.” Melendez was sued at least five times, once for killing a Detroiter, and  framed up the son of a Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality member,  forcing him into prison. See billboard below on I-75 north of Davison, glorifying Detroit police on behalf of the show “Detroit 1-8-7.”
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