L. Brooks Patterson
L. Brooks Patterson (Photo courtesy of OakGov.com)

Your disparagement of the good name and memory of my late departed law school classmate, prosecutor-colleague and 50+ year friend, L. Brooks Patterson is unbecoming of the Jewish News.

You stated in your June 11-17 editorial that Brooks disparaged Detroit and its citizens “in vile, heinous language, calling the city “an Indian reservation”; and thought nothing of Detroit’s majority-black population and that, to him, these black lives didn’t matter. While it certainly was true that after Detroit Mayor Coleman A. Young urged Detroit’s lawbreakers to cross Eight Mile Road, Brooks and Young developed a public repartee of poking fun at each other.

Remember, under Young’s administration, the upper- and middle-class taxpayers fled the city to the suburbs, drug-dealing gangs came to power and the crime rate sky-rocketed. Under his black-power style of leadership, he left the city of Detroit a fiscal and social wreck.

Brooks, on the other hand, led Oakland County, first as prosecutor for 16 years, then as executive for 27 years, with a multi-year balanced budget and a Moody’s AAA Bond Rating, admired as one of the safest and most desirable counties to live and work in the United States. You also neglected to mention all the good he did for Oakland’s black and Jewish communities and his legendary sense of humor, much of it self-deprecating. He even prayed with us at Temple Israel following the massacre at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue.

The citizens of Oakland County elected and re-elected Brooks over and over again, holding him in high esteem. His funeral last year was attended by thousands of friends from all walks of life, white and black, from all faiths and nationalities. In short, he was a revered leader of men and a public servant. Brooks grew up in the city of Detroit. He always loved Detroit, despite the tit for tat relationship he had with Young. And the upper and middle class that fled Young’s Detroit became fans and loyal supporters of Brooks. They, like all of us, valued their neighborhoods, their schools, their shopping districts, their public safety and Brooks’ leadership qualities.

You could have written your Jewish News opinion challenging Jews to stand up for justice and equality, in the wake of the unfortunate killing of George Floyd and the resulting protests, organized looting, burning, and wide-spread destruction of business districts across metro areas of the United States without disparaging the memory of L. Brooks Patterson in the process.

It is this kind of inflammatory attack on one individual, who you did not know, that causes further dissention in our community.


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