A look back at ‘No Crime Day’ in Detroit

NBA star Isiah Thomas sought to change the trajectory of Detroit in 1986, with the idea of one day without crime in the city.

Isiah Thomas competing for the Detroit Pistons against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden in New York on January 19, 1985

This week, Detroit city officials joined community leaders to discuss ways to stop gun violence in the area. While crime in Detroit is still trending downward, it occurred following a summer that saw a spike in violent crime.

A new Slate podcast called “One Year,” recently took a look at a 1986 event, where Detroit Pistons star, Isiah Thomas — easily the most revered athlete in the city — introduced the idea of “No Crime Day.” The goal was to provide residents with at least one day safe from the violent crimes taking place in the city.

“What [Isiah Thomas] told me was ‘I had a responsibility, given my platform, to do something in this community.'” — Josh Levin, editor and podcast host

Listen: When Isiah Thomas tried to reduce crime in Detroit with “No Crime Day.”



Josh Levin is the national editor for Slate and host of the “One Year” podcast. He says Thomas felt a responsibility to the city to try and do what he could to reduce crime.

“He wasn’t naïve to think that just, as a celebrity, he could snap his fingers and change endemic, systematic issues that had been bedeviling urban America for generations,” says Levin. “But he thought, ‘Hey, at least people will listen to me if I say something.'”


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