I learned yesterday that two gentlemen were killed in a hit and run in downtown Detroit. It occurred this Friday near Gratiot and Russell street intersection. If you’ve been in this area near the Eastern Market, you know that it is not pedestrian friendly. The two men are people that I use to see all the time when I lived in downtown Detroit. I did not know their names, I just knew them by their unique face. They were a part of the downtown lifestyle and tapestry that makes this city what it is.
The gentlemen on the left is James Van Horn. He is better known as “Eat ‘Em Up Tigers Man”. A lot of the times I would see him around Comerica park yelling “Eat ‘Em Up Tigers” and giving a little smile. The Hulk hand was awesome. You had to smile back after seeing something so massive as the Hulk hand. I would see Mike Alston the most. I learned this week he was also known as Dredlock Mike.
The first time I saw Mike, he was in a wheel chair going across Grand River, where I lived at the time. I noticed his thick heavy locks and his missing legs. But what hit me the hardest was his eyes. His eyes seem to just look beyond me and through me. I felt that I was not there. I remember putting some change in his cup and even then I was not acknowledged. I think it wasn’t until I passed him several times over a few months that I felt that he was really aware of me. I wondered about his life and family at times. There isn’t much difference between him and me. Just a few choices, I assume.
I don’t know deep details on either of these guys lives. How they got where they are. I only know from the interaction that I had with them and from that I can say they had kindness in their souls. I believe that their kindness and the kindness of Detroiters kept them going when things got tough. It hurts my spirit that someone took their lives and did not think enough to stop and help. Helping may have made a difference.
I will pray for these men and pray as the police work to find the one who took their lives. I will also give. Detroiters are very kind people and in that kindness, we want to make sure these Detroit icons have proper funerals. Here are a couple of ways to give: