After graduating from Wilberforce University and Howard's Medical School, Sweet settled to Detroit to seek his fortune. After establishing a successful practice he found a wife and started a family. He later bought a home in a nice neighborhood outside the ghetto in a neighborhood where he anticipated that he might encounter strife.
On one fateful day in 1925 right after Labor Day he moved his family into the residence and was accompanied by a host of family and friends to ensure he would have protection if he needed it. They also brought along firearms - just in case.
Later that night, a huge mob assembled outside even though police were present. No violence happened that night. The next night was different whereby as many as 500 people or more started a protest in which the home was attacked. As a consequence, someone in the Sweet Home fired several times into the crowd in which two men were shot - one of which died. The police stormed the house and arrested everyone.
The book discusses the history of the Sweet family and documents how the two trials were conducted. In the first trial, all ten occupants of the home were tried simultaneously on Murder - First degree and Conspiracy. In the second trial, only Henry Sweet - Ossian's brother - was tried.
Incredulously, the Prosecutor's case was that there was no mob outside the home and that the occupants took up residence in the home to provoke the neighborhood to violence. As proof, several police officers and a roster of witnesses attested that the Sweets fired without provocation.
In 1925, defendants weren't given Miranda Warnings and did not have the right to have counsel present when being interrogated. In fact, in many cases black defendants were routinely beaten and tortured until they confessed. Reading this book - for a second time - imparted several lessons on this history of Detroit on many subjects and on many levels.
In all, I found the work to be informative, educational, and entertaining. I caution you that the ending is a downer but I suggest that you read it. It is that good. True story.
Update: I forgot to mention one significant short-coming of the book. It failed to mention the numerous laws that the state of Michigan enacted as a direct result of the exoneration of the 10 occupants of the Sweet home in the first trial and the exoneration of Henry Sweet in the second trial. The omission was glaring, as it made sure to give a historical update for all of the major characters in the book. I will "shoot" an email to the author and see if it was an oversight or whether he had a reason for not including that fact.
Rick Ector is a National Rifle Association credentialed Firearms Trainer, who provides Michigan CCW Class training in Detroit for students at his firearms school - Rick's Firearm Academy of Detroit.
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