Belle Isle September 12, 1997

Belle Isle #1

On September 12, 1997 there was an odd and mysterious protest on Belle Isle in Detroit.  I was part of it and share these photos I took for the first time.  There’s one more photo which I’ll try to add later.

I thought that it must have been 1998 but I later found evidence that it was in 1997.   My huge street art project on the Hudson’s building in downtown Detroit was nearing the end.  It was imploded the next year, in October.

Some say the newspaper strike was “settled” in 1997 but aspects of it carried into 1998 including Judge O’Meara’s decision.  This was one of the huge local stories that was connected with this time.

Belle Isle #2

This was a sort of “Wheel of Misfortune.”  Note “No News or Free Press Wanted Here” sign (below, left).

Belle Isle #3

Also, it seems that the Wise Fool puppet group was involved.  They started in 1997 so this would have been one of their earlier actions/performances.  The medusa-headed puppet in this photo appears on the “” website below.

Belle Isle #4

Here’s the late, great Gerald Hairston (left in yellow shirt).  He was a “master gardener” involved in his own sort of green activism.

Belle Isle #5

It was the day after Detroit’s Dally in the Alley party.  Using some of the same masks and costumes, they had a smaller procession at the Dally the day before.  We marched across the Belle Isle Bridge onto the island.  As we marched, we played music, made noise and sang.   I played kazoo.

Belle Isle is sort of Detroit’s “Central Park.”  I love it.  It’s great.  I used to take the bus there when I was young, but I get there rarely now.  If it was more “central” I’d get there more often.

Other issues (besides the newspaper strike) included Detroit Casinos, environmentalism, problems with capitalism and being in favor of a sort of “general humanism.”  I remember it as a wild and magical thing.

If anyone was there and has any information, comments or corrections, I’d be glad to hear from you.

Belle Isle #6

Some of the paraders were on stilts.

Judge O’Meara rules against striking newspaper workers:

More information on that newspaper strike:

Belle Isle #7

The Wise Fool Puppet Group:

Belle Isle #8

3 Responses to “Belle Isle September 12, 1997”

  1. Elena Herrada Says:

    There were so many things going on at that time. The newspaper strike was over by then, but the people were still protesting it long after. Thus, I would contact George Waldman, who likely took photos, Bill Wylie Kellerman, and they will put you onto others. I will forward this to them. Gerald Hairston, though not physically with us here, is present for the US Social forum and the proliferation of gardens which he started. To paraphrase Arundati Roy, “there is a Gerald shaped hole in the universe.”
    Presente, and thanks for the lovely photos.

  2. Piet Says:

    No I wasn’t, take a look at my Email
    John Piet

  3. September 12, 1998 on Belle Isle in Detroit « for art and artists Says:

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