Pepper Spray Project provides free resources to keep Detroiters safe

Friday’s art show at The Painted Lady is a fundraiser to keep their service going.

people standing at a bar with shelves of liquor

Did you know that if you walk into The Painted Lady lounge in Hamtramck or PizzaPlex in southwest Detroit and ask for pepper spray, they will give it to you for free? It’s part of a larger bar safety program that two bartenders-turned-activists have started.

It’s called the Pepper Spray Project, and it’s all about keeping vulnerable people safe in Detroit’s night life scene. On Friday, Jan. 13, they’re holding an art show from 6 p.m. until 2 a.m. at The Painted Lady as a fundraiser so they can continue to provide this free service to the community. There will be raffles, food and “Jason” masks to fit the Friday the 13th theme.

Organizers Andrea Bonaventura and Anne Cousins joined CultureShift to talk about why they started this project and describe what the community’s response has been like so far.

“There have been quite a few times where someone was walking home and maybe had someone following them in a car, or even just having [pepper spray] made them feel safe and more like they had the agency to independently be able to walk around on their own and go out at night. So even just having it just in case I think makes a lot of people feel better.” — Anne Cousins, Pepper Spray Project organizer

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  • Ryan Patrick Hooper
    Ryan Patrick Hooper is the award-winning host of "In the Groove" on 101.9 WDET-FM Detroit’s NPR station. Hooper has covered stories for the New York Times, NPR, Detroit Free Press, Hour Detroit, SPIN and Paste magazine.