In 2001, I supported Gill Hill for Mayor of Detroit over Kwame Kilpatrick. Kilpatrick won. In 2005, I supported Freman Hendrix over Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. Kilpatrick was re-elected. During my time as President of the Associated Food Dealers, the city administration and police department wreaked havoc on Detroit store owners. Undeserved raids, tickets, fines, harassment and shakedowns for money. Kilpatrick and I became arch enemies; and everyone knew it.
I always thought Kilpatrick was ethically challenged even when he was in the state legislature. His affair with Christine Beatty began then. When he ultimately was elected, he took his slogan—It’s Our Time—to mean it was his time in every criminal and sinister way possible. At the end of that saga, I felt strongly that he got what he deserved.
But I’ve changed my mind. I think his three-decade sentence is excessive and I’m not the only one. An effort is actually underway to free Kilpatrick.
In spite, of the real harm he caused the city, his sentence should be reduced. Here are six reasons why.
• I believe he may be capable of reforming himself in less than 27 years.
• He is a very low risk of committing a repeat offense given what he has been through.
• He is a father and I believe, still a husband.
• He probably can be let out early in exchange for some substantial community service. It seems that his story of his meteoric rise, catastrophic fall, epic humiliation and redemptive rebirth might do a few troubled kids out there some good.
In the context of the immigration detentions, I’ve been to these prisons a couple of times to visit friends. They are horrible places. Our criminal justice and prison system are badly flawed, in my view. These places for a long sentence like Kilpatrick got, amount to a death sentence.
Finally, and most importantly, he was coddled and enabled by some of the most powerful elected officials and corporate leaders in this town— many of whom are still in positions of power. They lifted him up and stood behind him way longer than was prudent. For years, they turned a blind eye to Kilpatrick’s untoward ways. They share responsibility for what he did to the city because they stood by him when it was happening.
In a complete reversal of my positions on Kilpatrick and his case, I say commute his sentence by half.
Where do you stand?
Michael Sarafa is Co-Publisher of The Chaldean News.