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Devil's Night

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Author Topic: Devil's Night  (Read 216 times)
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« on: November 03, 2009, 03:10:58 am »

Devil's Night

Devil's Night is a name associated with October 30, the night before Halloween. It is related to "mischief night" practiced in other parts of the United States and the world.

Devil's Night in Detroit dates as early as the 1930s. Traditionally, youths in Detroit engaged in a night of criminal behavior, which usually consisted of acts of vandalism (such as egging, soaping, or TP'ing). These were almost exclusively acts of petty vandalism, causing little to no property damage.

However, in the early 1970s the vandalism escalated to more devastating acts, such as arson. This primarily took place in the city, but surrounding suburbs were often affected. Property owners unable to sell in the rapidly declining housing market would use this night as an opportunity to burn down their homes, collect the insurance money, and claim that an arsonist was at fault.

The crimes became more destructive in Detroit's inner-city neighborhoods, and included hundreds of acts of arson and vandalism every year. The destruction reached a peak in the mid- to late-1980s, with more than 800 fires set in 1984, and 500 to 800 fires in the three days and nights before Halloween in a typical year. [1]

By the early 1990s, Detroit saw little decline in Devil's Night arson.[2] After a brutal Devil's Night in 1994, then new mayor Dennis Archer promised city residents arson would not be tolerated. In 1995, Detroit city officials organized and created Angel's Night on and around October 29-31. Each year as many as 50,000 volunteers gather to patrol neighborhoods.[3] Additionally, youth curfews in the city as early as 6 P.M. are instituted on the days before Halloween. Former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick had kept this program up in force since taking office in 2002.

The name Devil's Night, Mischief Night or Hell Night is used in parts of the eastern U.S. and Canada, although the acts are generally less destructive and violent than those committed in Detroit. A survey done in the United States shows the comparative popularity of various names for this night around the country. In parts of Quebec, it is known as Mat Night, as stealing doormats was a common prank in earlier times.

In other places, Devil's Night is called "cabbage night", "gate night", "corn night", or "Hacker's Night"; all with youths committing petty vandalism, 'attacking' people and cars with such things as eggs and shaving cream, and sometimes smashing the pumpkins of neighbors and ruining other decorations.

On the last day of Roskilde Festival in Roskilde, Denmark concert-goers torch the tents surrounding the area, even if they're not their own. This day is called "Hell Night".
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