Friday, January 8, 2010

New Jack City Eats Its Young-Original 1987 Village Voice Feature


By Barry Michael Cooper
Published in the Village Voice: December 1st, 1987
(A Blessed and Bountiful New Year to one and all. Next March 2011--GOD Willing--will be the 20th anniversary of the Warner Bros. film, "New Jack City". This is the Village Voice feature I wrote 23 years ago, that was the basis for the film.)


“Yo-yo, where the money at?”
Lenny Higgins, 17 at the time, didn’t usually go to the store with his foster brother James, also 17, but on the night of March 1, 1987, James asked and Lenny obliged. It was 10:30. At Williamson’s Party Store, on Perry Park Boulevard on Detroit’s West Side, they bought sodas and played some games. They left about 10:45. As Lenny tells the story, he and James were approaching their corner of Heckler Street when a hooded figure ran across the street and stopped them in their tracks. Clad in a black jacket and black hooded sweatshirt, Mark Hunter, 24, pulled a .357 Magnum from his pants waist and stuck it in James’s temple.
“Yo-yo, where the money at?”

Three seconds later another figure joined Hunter and put another .357 to Lenny’s head. Lenny had seen this boy around the neighborhood, knew him slightly, but they weren’t friendly: Dashaw Green, 15. Wearing a black, Run-D.M.C.-style “popcorn” leather jacket, hooded black sweatshirt, black jeans, and white laceless Adidas, he echoed his partner:
“Where the money at? Which one a y’all got the money?” 
Lenny was confused, scared, angry - but not willing to be a toy hero, a dead toy hero - “Here!” he said, “You can have my money, just don’t shoot me!”
Lenny gave up his $26, and James handed over $30 or $40. After they took the money, Mark and Dashaw looked at each other, an evil, hungry look, Lenny says. They lowered their guns and pushed Lenny and James backward. Mark raised his gun and fired. Flames spit out the muzzle like and orange and white blur, hitting James in the abdomen. The bullet exited through the spine. James doubled over. Lenny was frozen. Mark and Dashaw ran five or six steps in the opposite direction, but then Dashaw turned around. Mark turned around. Dashaw hesitated for a split second. Maybe he thought, I’m with my boy, and if I don’t shoot, he might think I’m frontin’. He might even shoot me. I can’t let this nigga go scot free. I gotta shoot him, too.
The entire "Kids Killing Kids: New Jack City Eats Its Young" feature story is now available in my upcoming book of essays and reporting titled, "Hooked On The American Dream (Vol.1): New Jack City Eats Its Young.  Click here to go to the Amazon site.


Anonymous said...

your article is very interesting. i was a part of henry marzett's life from 1966 until his death. as in all accounts of the past some of the statements are misstated. this comment is to to correct then, but to make note

Bmc said...

@Anonymous: Thank you for your response and valuable input. When I researched this story 23 years ago, there was not a lot of information about Mr. Marzett, and the information I gleaned from newspapers articles and those in the community was somewhat limited. Mr. Marzett was a powerful and mysterious figure. Thank you again, and your feedback is duly noted and appreciated.

Anonymous said...

i wrote the comment on marzette and would like to contact you

Bmc said...


bridalwarrior said...

I was channel surfing last night and ran across a documentary on the Chambers Brothers on the Biography Channel. It was fascinating to me as I have been trying to locate information on Detroit's east side. I have lived in the Detroit suburbs (Plymouth) for the past 20 years, starting two churches and a non-profit ministry that focused on community development in Detroit and Peru. We have done work here in east Detroit for 5 years now and last October I moved here because I know that God has told me to come here live here and see Him do what He's going to do to set His people free. A land developer has given my ministry a house that he flipped and was unable to sell so I'm living here. Near the corner of 8 Mile and Kelly.

Over the last two years I have been developing a team of people who are also focused on community development, and the resources that we need continue to come to us. The piece you wrote on your blog is so informational and completely helpful to us. After I watched the show last night, I decided to look for any other information you might have posted on the internet. I will forward this blog link to the rest of our team.

One of the things we are doing right now is spiritually mapping the city. You identified in this piece some of the same things we have identified - one of which is that the spiritual life has fallen out of the community. Developing a spiritual map of the city/community will allows us to see where they spiritual walls have been broken and then prayer and repentance become the keys to turning things around. For us this is the first step. So we are focusing on that particular aspect right now. Your piece had a lot to offer us in relationship to that.

Much of the work we are doing right now is foundational in nature. We are researching our community, getting into the streets with the people, listening to them and to others like you who have taken a step back and looked long and hard at the community and the issues here. We will completely assess the community this summer by visiting every home (within the 7 Mile/8 Mile, Gratiot/Kelly boundaries). We are looking at every facet of the community with the hope to impact every facet of the community through partnerships and collaborations. My 20 year old network here in the Detroit area may pay off for us in a big way!

I don't know where you live now, but it would be a blessing and a tremendous help to us to talk with you further if you're available. Also, if you know of any other people that we could connect with who could give us similar information about the east side of Detroit, that would be helpful.

Thanks so much for posting this piece!


Bmc said...

@Kimberly: Thank you for your feedback and response. I would not be able to talk with you and your organization right now, as I am busy building this blog, and working on a collection of my journalism over the past 30 years--along with new essays--which will have the same title as the blog, Hooked On The American Dream. However, I appreciate your kind and thoughtful response, and as Paul says under the inspiration of GOD in I Corinthians 10:31-"Whether therefore ye eat, drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of GOD." So in everything, to GOD Be The Glory! Thanks again for your insightful comments.

trailmarky said...

Your post was quite good than other blogger, so simple yet imformational.
mind if I put a link back to you?
black suit
anyway I'm william

Anonymous said...

I knew Lenny well back then. FERRY PARK..not PerryPark is a street the Williamson(WeNeverClose)Party Store was located, within a notorious Northwest area better known as ZONE 8. Lenny & his 2Sisters were related to the FRAZIER's(Boobie, Ant & Trish), who lived on my block Gladstone, which is located in another notorious Northwest area called 12th ST(100Years). These 2 areas are very close in proximity. Lenny was shot in his leg, fortunately he survived.

Bmc said...

@Anonymous 25 December 2014

Thank you, thank you so much for this information. Thank GOD Lenny survived that horrific night. I appreciate this update.