Detroit pastors fly to Georgia, assaulted elderly woman on life support, business suffers from road work

It was last week during the murder trial of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia that one of the defendant's attorneys complained about the presence of Rev. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton in the courtroom. He called for a mistrial, arguing their presence and the cries from Arbery's mother Wanda Cooper-Jones could unfairly sway the jurors.

"We don't want any more Black pastors coming in here," said Attorney Kevin Gough, who is representing William "Roddie" Bryan, one of the men on trial.

The statement was not received well by the judge. Furthermore, it has galvanized Black pastors from around the U.S., who plan to fly to Georgia Thursday to support the family. That includes eight pastors from Detroit.

Expected to leave from the Oakland County airport and travel to Brunswick Georgia, the Detroit congregation will meet up with hundreds of other faith leaders to offer support for Arbery's family and hold a prayer outside the courtroom today.

Arbery's murder, which happened in February 2020, was the latest high-profile killing of a Black American that prompted a surge of protests and demonstrations around the U.S. last year. 

Women, 63, beaten and raped, on life support in hospital

Shirley Bryant, a grandmother and one of 14 siblings, was on her way to visit her son for his birthday when she was attacked and left for dead. Now on life support in a hospital, Bryant has a large family looking after her. 

"We always had great memories with her - she was the aunty that you always wanted because she didn't have any daughters," said Meena Regains, her niece. "She has three sons so when she came to Detroit she would spoil us." 

Her family also won't rest until they find the suspect that put her in her near-death position. "We love her and we are going to find out who did this to her - trust and believe (that)," said her niece, Vera Regains. The attack happened Sunday when someone walking by a vacant church near Joy Road and Martindale heard a cry for help. The passerby found Bryant, who had been sexually assaulted and beaten. 

Now at Henry Ford Hospital, she can't speak and has massive head trauma. It's unclear if she will wake up from the incident. Her family says she is familiar with the area, having grown up nearby, but the details of the attack are disturbing and alarming. "We know you are scared because a lot of people don’t want to tell," said Meena. "But we are asking that you tell someone -  because she is very loved."

Longtime SW Detroit business struggling after road buckles

The A&L Ham Palace with its iconic pig standing above the restaurant has toughed it out for years as bridges have come down, with the pandemic, and now a massive road project that's included gas line replacement and a whole lot of construction. It's making business difficult, the owner says.

"For three years the bridge was down, I struggle. Last year COVID, I struggle. Now, this. How long?" said Owner Pete Sinishtaj. The ham palace was one of the Southwest Detroit businesses trying to push through the pain after Fort Street in the city's southwest area buckled on Sept. 11. The incident resulted in the demolition of a cannabis dispensary and damaged DTE's gas infrastructure. 

"Business has been slow," Vera Sinishtaj said. "It's very hard for customers to come into the restaurant and they are blocking the driveways." Because of the construction, anyone who wants to eat at the restaurant has to take the long way to access it. But lunch breaks don't always allow for that much time to eat.

While he's upset about all of it, his gripe is with the construction workers from DTE. He almost kicked them out of the parking lot. The utility has said it will continue to work quickly and safely to fix things up, hoping to have it complete by Thanksgiving.

Covenant House Sleep Out raises money to help homeless

Brian Pozzi and his colleagues with Triple-A Michigan have mapped out their spots to sleep in a cardboard box, in a parking lot across from their headquarters in Dearborn Thursday night. "You're asking someone to sleep outdoors - give up their own bed in the comfort of their own home," he said. "It's not an easy ask, but each year we've had several members of the Triple A team participating in this."

It is the Covenant House Executive Sleepout, raising funds for homeless youth across the country and Canada who are getting their lives back - with the help of their local Covenant House. "Get them into housing, get them into a job, get them into feeling better for themselves, get them off of addiction," said Gerald Piro. "All of that goes on at Covenant House."

Piro is the executive director of Covenant House Michigan. Usually, the campus in Detroit hosts the sleepout - but because of Covid, the Sleep Out is virtual for the second year in a row. And this year, companies are doing something different - Delta is sleeping out at the airport, Plante Moran employees are sleeping in a conference room, and five employees from Triple-A will be in the parking lot.

So they're doing what they can - each participant trying to raise at least $5,000 for Covenant House - which houses more than 65 young people - providing shelter and services to get them educated, get them employed, get them their own homes - but that all takes money - and the need is great.

Martin Luther King HS students stage walk-out over lack of Covid safety

Just after 12 p.m. Wednesday, students at Martin Luther King Jr. HIgh School in Detroit walked out of class over what they claim is a lack of COVID-19 safety protocols. "Either shut us down or get us right," said one student. "We are out here trying to get our schools clean, there are so many Covid cases that the principal is not telling us about," student Madison Sanders.

"(There's) seven teachers out right now who haven’t been in school because of Covid," said student Taurean Camel Jr.  "And (the principal) hasn’t told us anything (regarding) the cases." During the walk-out, students spoke up about Principal Damian Perry. "They don’t clean often and they require us to do it - and most students will do it, out of their own safety," said student Elijah Shabazz.

In a statement to FOX 2, Detroit Public Schools said their COVID concerns were shared by some staff members were acknowledged by the district through its decision to move instruction online each Friday in December to allow for deep cleaning of buildings. 

After students made their voices heard they were led back into the building and were told they would not be suspended. "I’m telling the students to go back inside you don’t have to worry about anything, that’s an amendment, that’s a right, you do you have the right to assemble, to peacefully protest," said Ridgeley Hudson, school culture facilitator.

What else we're watching

  1. Americans beware: Thanksgiving costs are going to be higher this season. Everything from turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes and rolls with butter are getting hit by inflation. Grocery stores that were advertising their lower feature prices did so later than usual this year. 
  2. It's official, a new mural is now covering the iconic whales on Detroit's Broderick Tower. The mural, which features different-colored faces, got a bit of pushback after the idea was floated.
  3. A jury in Genesee County has convicted a man who killed his wife with cereal that had been laced with heroin. Jason Harris, 47, had collected $120,000 in life insurance benefits as a result of his wife's death.
  4. The Grand Opening Ceremony for the Wayne County Lightfest is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday. The unveiling will be in Westland at the Merriman Hollow Park.
  5. The Marathon refinery in Detroit is donating $150,000 to Detroit public schools to fund a new STEAM lab at the Mark Twain School for Scholars. The refinery's GM will present the check to the school's superintendent todau. 

Live on FOX 2

Daily Forecast

Hope the warm-up was nice because Temperatures have taken a tumble into the 30s and 40s as cold air pours back into Michigan. Eventually, although not until next Monday, it'll bring in some lake effect snow as well.

10% of US kids 5 to 11 received COVID-19 vaccine in 1st 2 weeks, White House says

The White House says about 10% of eligible kids aged 5 to 11 have received a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine since its approval for their age group two weeks ago.

At least 2.6 million kids have received a shot, White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients said Wednesday, with 1.7 million doses administered in the last week alone, roughly double the pace of the first week after approval. It's more than three times faster than the rate adults were vaccinated at the start of the nation's vaccination campaign 11 months ago.

Zients said there are now 30,000 locations across for kids to get a shot, up from 20,000 last week, and that the administration expects the pace of pediatric shots to pick up in the coming days.

Kids who get their first vaccine dose by the end of this week will be fully vaccinated by Christmas, assuming they get their second shot three weeks after the first one.