303/365: XV – The Devil
"Lucifer. Mephistopheles. Satan. The Prince of Darkness. No matter what we call him, the Devil is our symbol for what is bad and undesirable. From our human perspective, we see the world as a struggle between light and dark. We want to vanquish the bad so the good can prevail. In fact, good and bad cannot be separated, just as you cannot separate a shadow from its source. Darkness is simply the absence of light, and it is caused by errors that hide the truth."
Joan Bunning, Learning the Tarot
Devil's Night (October 30)
Devil's Night is a longstanding tradition predating World War II, with anecdotal incidents occurring as early as the 1930s. Traditionally, youths in the Detroit area engaged in a night of criminal behavior, which usually consisted of acts of vandalism (such throwing eggs at the homes of neighbors, or stringing toilet paper in trees) . These were almost exclusively petty vandalism acts, causing little to no property damage other than perhaps a damaged mailbox or eggs hardening on windows. These acts still go on today, and the "criminals" almost never face prosecution.
However, in the early 1970s a dark side of this holiday emerged and the vandalism escalated to more severe acts such as arson. This primarily took place in the city but surrounding suburbs were not entirely immune. Property owners unable to sell in the rapidly declining Detroit city housing market would use this night as an excuse to burn down their homes to collect insurance money. These incidents were blamed on Devil's Night hooligans, greatly adding to the notoriety of the night.
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.