Woman arrested for throwing grapes at school board


So I see this story in the Detroit News a few days ago where a woman attending a recent Detroit School Board meeting stood up and started throwing grapes at the board members. I really did want to laugh because I kinda needed a good laugh that day, but instead all I could do was shake my head and be glad my stomach wasn’t full. It’s no surprise the woman, Agnes Hitchcock,  is the leader of the Call ‘Em Out Coalition since they’re pretty well-known for pulling stunts like this. I guess this is their version of radical action.

Look, I know why they’re pissed, and to a degree I understand. Hell, who wouldn’t be pissed that Detroit is going to be forced to close more than 30 schools this year? If you’re a parent and your kid goes to one of these schools, and that school is nearby, then it’s not going to add any charm to your day to hear about this. Or maybe there was something else special about the school. Could be any number of reasons why it hurts any number of Detroiters to see so many of their neighborhood schools being closed.

Now get the hell over it.

I’m still wondering when all these protesters are going to quiet down long enough to take a good look at the school budget deficit, which is somewhere in the neighborhood of $200 million. This is a $200 million budget deficit hanging around the neck of Detroit Public Schools in a city that is losing thousands of residents per month – thousands of taxpayers whose taxes were needed to help support these schools. We live in a city that leads the nation in home foreclosures, and in a state that leads the nation in joblessness. The industries that built this state – and this nation to a large degree – are now crumbling, and we still haven’t figured out how to adjust to the vacuum.

But it’s a certainty that one way not to adjust is to try and act like everything is as it once was, and that we can keep doing things the same way. Detroit used to have 2 million residents. Now we have just under 900,000 and are falling fast. As Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has pointed out on more than one occasion, we can’t continue to maintain the infrastructure and services that were designed for a population twice our current size. The resources simply aren’t there and it it doesn’t make any sense. That Detroit is gone, man, and we need to get used to it.

Part of getting used to it is getting used to the obvious fact that with far fewer families in Detroit we have far fewer children, which means we don’t need as many buildings to school them in. Any school kid can tell you that’s simple mathematics. As for which schools were the right schools to choose, hell, I don’t know. I suspect making that decision is akin to figuring whether you want to keep your left arm or your right. It’s gonna hurt whichever way you decide to go. But something has got to go.

It hurts. I know. And I confess I don’t have any children of my own so I can’t possibly “feel your pain” in any meaningful way. But I can do the math, and the simple math says that shutting down all these schools, which it is estimated will save tens of millions of dollars, is just the beginning of the massive restructuring that will be required throughout this city – not just in the schools – to make our city work. The longer we scream and stomp our feet – and do dumb shit like throw grapes – the longer we will be prolonging the inevitable.

 Change doesn’t have to be our enemy, but it has the potential to destroy us if we don’t grow up, accept it, and work with it.


~ by Keith A. Owens on April 7, 2007.

13 Responses to “Woman arrested for throwing grapes at school board”

  1. […] Read more here… […]

  2. Love the throwing grapes. The problem is determining which schools with close in a fair manner

  3. Thanks for dropping by, Credo. And yeah, the fairness issue is definitely a hard one, and central to the whole thing. But believe me when I say they can throw all the grapes they want. Closing the schools isn’t an option at this point. Situation’s way too dire.

  4. Her actions were over the top ghetto-unfabulous. A poor display on how to conduct yourself especially when children & young adults are there. I think she should go down & she will be far from a martyr.


  5. Couldn’t have said it better myself, bygbaby.

  6. I disagree but with a caveat.

    I don’t know the woman that threw the grape, but I know the people involved on her side of the political debate. Helen Moore and those folks. Old school hell raisers. I do not think they are on the right side of the fight here, but only because they are reactionaries. They don’t have any real understanding of what detroit is going through…they just know that they don’t like the political forces running the city.

    So when I say I disagree I don’t do so because I agree with Helen Moore–although I do like her a lot and appreciate her fighting for so long. Hell I wouldn’t be where I am today without her (I mean this literally).

    I disagree because we forget that often times making change politically means DISRUPTION. Sometimes making points politically involves using emotional language, even and some times especially in front of kids. Check out King’s LETTER FROM A BIRMINGHAM JAIL if you get a chance.

  7. It is just sad that Detroit is crumbling like this, I can’t imaging being a parent living with the possibility that the school system is shrinking and your child’s school may be next. I can relate to the parents being a parent myself.

    But as you said D what’s done is done and Detroit must begin the process of rebuilding. Now is the time to lay the groundwork for the new Detroit and all of the citizens must be involved so that great city can come back stronger than ever…

  8. Interesting post. I’ve been covering the topic of education on my podcast (thanks for leaving your comments). But this is what I’m talking about on the show. In Texas it’s just the opposite. We actually need more schools to accommodate everyone.

    I hope they can come up with a plan in for your school system. Or at least provide some alternatives for the kids being displaced.

  9. Hey Theo!

    Yeah, things are a bit dramatic here in the “D” these days, and not just on the education front. The school situation is a serious mess, but all I know to do is continue to hope we can find a way to work through this thing. If we don’t, then we lose the children, and that’s just not an acceptable option.

    Thanks for dropping by.

  10. Latimer,
    You’re right, it definitely is sad to witness a lot of what’s going on, but I do want to stress that this isn’t the only thing going on. It’s rough, to be sure, but I continue tobelieve that once the dust has cleared we’ll still be standing.

  11. Hi Lester.

    As always, I appreciate the thought behind your comments. I have read King’s “Letter From a Birmingham Jail”, althoughit’s been awhile. Perhaps it’s time for me to revisit that piece. As for the importance of disruption as a means of protest, I wouldn’t argue with you on that. I must admit I’ve never heard of a polite “pardon me while I protest” revolution. So I’ll have to give you that one.

    HOWEVER. I still say that this sort of disruption doesn’t do much good when you don’t have your facts together, and I don’t believe the Grape posse has their facts together at all. As you said, I don’t think they’re on the right side on this one. They’re screaming and shouting before they’ve done their homework, and that’s more destructive than progressive in my opinion.

    Thanks much for dropping by and weighing in.

  12. K – here is some good news from Detroit school district. enjoy!

    peace, Villager

  13. If you take data from the latest census,color coded and insert data on a map of the city,then take a map showing DPS facilitys over lay one on the other using clear asotape wallah you have a strating point for whats schools should close.

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