by Lee DeVito
Just after 7AM on Sunday, November 23rd, the Detroit Fire Department responded to the 12th fire at the Heidelberg Project, this time at the Taxi House on Mt Elliott. Firefighters were able to stifle the blaze and the structure is still standing. “These guys are truly Detroit’s finest," says artist and founder Tyree Guyton. "They work hard to help protect the Heidelberg Project in the face of grave danger. They have my utmost respect.” We thank DFD for their service, and also for the care and respect they continue to show us here at the Heidelberg Project.
The good news is that our new security system caught the arsonist in the act. We have video confirmation of one hooded assailant pouring a substance into the back of the structure, before igniting the accelerant and fleeing. The footage accompanying this statement shows that the culprit may have suffered severe burns to his/her face and upper body after the accelerant exploded upon ignition. The ATF is reviewing all recordings, but enhancement or analysis of said footage will take time. The .avi recording of the footage can be accessed here.
As a result, we ask for your help in identifying this individual by calling the Detroit Fire and Arson Tip Line at (313) 628-2900. There is a $15,000 reward available for any information leading to an arrest and/or conviction. All other inquiries into the investigation should be directed to ATF Agent Donald Dawkins at (313) 202-3400. We thank the ATF for their continued involvement in this matter, and hope that their year-long commitment to this disheartening saga can soon come to a close.
We must also extend our gratitude to the hundreds of people from near and far that helped us to fund and implement our solar-powered surveillance system. Without this system, we would have little to go on. Now, we again place our faith in the authorities to help bring an end to the destruction. Although this series of attacks is a black-eye in the face of Detroit's progress, we can only search for solutions. As the world watches, an opportunity for a new kind of civic partnership presents itself.
We are not firefighters, investigators or security experts; we are a small and dedicated group of citizens, artists, and educators who care about our city and humanity. We will continue to do everything within our own means to protect our canvas and to continue carrying out our work.