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Posted on Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 12:19 p.m.

Fight club? Sheriff's Department investigating organized fistfights among teens in West Willow

By Tom Perkins

The Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department is investigating what it believes are organized fistfights between teenagers in Ypsilanti Township's West Willow neighborhood.

Videos of the fights recently surfaced on Youtube and Facebook, and the Neighborhood Watch group and residents are working with the Sheriff's Department to identify what appears to be mostly juveniles involved with the fights.

patrol.jpg files

According to a report Deputy Nick Krings gave to the New West Willow Neighborhood Association at a meeting this week, about 80 youths gather for the fights, which last for over 15 minutes.

Krings said there appears to be “almost a schedule of fights” and two people will fight at predetermined location and time.

The videos shows three to four fights during each 15 minute session, Krings said, and the youths appear to be willing participants.

He said the department hasn’t received any emergency calls from people involved with the fights and do not have any victim’s names.

He also said the department has information about possible gambling on the fights.

“It’s almost like a miniature fight club at this point,” Krings said. “By the time we get there, everybody has gone home, or everybody standing in the parks saying ‘I know nothing about nothing.’”

Krings said the fights appear to be happening mid- to late afternoon and it's both males and females fighting.

Neighborhood Association President Angela Barbash said many of the kids appear to be from outside of the neighborhood.

She said the group was able to confirm on Facebook that some are from Ypsilanti High School and at least one is from Southfield, while most of the kids in the neighborhood attend Belleville and Willow Run High Schools.

Krings said the department can take further action after first identifying the kids involved, and residents gathered at the meeting said they were actively gathering information from the videos.

“If we can (make the) identification then I can start knocking on doors and curtailing this before it gets out of control,” he said.

Following the meeting, Barbash and several other members were alerted to a fight in progress down the street from the Neighborhood Association meeting. Two female cousins were fighting and about 50 kids were watching in the middle of Eugene Street, Barbash said.

She said the kids dispersed as she and five others from the meeting approached.

At the meeting, Barbash said the fights are serious but pointed out that the neighborhood is addressing teenagers fighting instead of break-ins, murders and other violence it dealt with last summer.

She said that is evidence of success in their efforts to clean up the neighborhood and "shows how far we've come and just what we have accomplished in the last year", but urged residents to remain vigilant on all issues.

Residents vowed to keep each other informed and call the police anytime they spot a large group of kids gathered in a park or in the street.

"We are working really, really hard," Barbash said.

If you have any information on the fights, contact the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Department at 734-971-8400.



Mon, Aug 15, 2011 : 5:30 p.m.

I guess if I was that ugly I would be fightn too cause nobody is going to hire me, LOL


Mon, Aug 15, 2011 : 5:29 p.m.

How come these girls are not working at Burger King or doing some type of summer job to pay for school supplies or something, too much time on their hand and the parents all need to be shot and hanged if they are betting on this and as African Americans we should know better, just makes us look like monkies! Poor MLK, he would die all over again...just looking like stupid monkies...yep that what they look like and the girls are ugly and then they fighn, somebody needs to show them how to act like ladys and dress like ladies even though they some ugly, OMG


Mon, Aug 15, 2011 : 5:23 p.m.

Makes AA people look foolish, MLK would die all over again if he was still living

Animal Lover

Thu, Aug 11, 2011 : 9:34 p.m.

Why doesn't police place a few of those $32,000 cameras in the neighborhood park area where the fights are held? Angela Barbash, I just iwish you would move over to the Holmes Rd area. Together, we might be able to get Ypsi Twp to come up with the $25,000 /yr to re-open the Holmes Rd police station. And if Wash Co Sheriff doesn't want to change report there, then let's get going with Ypsi City to get our own police force.

Angela Barbash

Fri, Aug 12, 2011 : 2:56 a.m.

Hey if you need a friend in the Township, I'm always willing to listen and see if I can help. I don't know about that station up there, a lot of folks have said that the deputies would hide out there but I don't know how true that is. Either way, if you want help with something. Just as we suspected back when we began pushing these bad elements out of our neighborhood, they've show up in other areas of the eastern county.


Thu, Aug 11, 2011 : 5:52 p.m.

Wow. Some CRAZY posts on this thread. Unbelievable.

Jojo B

Thu, Aug 11, 2011 : 3:07 p.m.

What's going on with the comments for this article? Not only have some been labeled removed, but I would swear that some comments are just downright missing altogether. And some actually added interesting info and thoughts to the discussion.

Wilford John Presler IV

Thu, Aug 11, 2011 : 2:32 p.m.

To all of you up and coming Kimbo Slice wannabes...."Come git some!" ;}

Animal Lover

Thu, Aug 11, 2011 : 9:36 p.m.

Don't know what this means.


Thu, Aug 11, 2011 : 1:08 p.m.

i say let the kids fight and let natural selection take its course


Thu, Aug 11, 2011 : 12:13 p.m.

It's been a long hot summer and if these kids have nothing to do and time on their hands they will come up with something. It is very sad. I wish that people would stop seeing our problems as Ann Arbor vs Yypsi, or Canton and Plymouth. What difference does it make where they are from or their economic status? We have a community that needs help. It takes a village. I hope that religious leaders, cops, concerned parents, will all be out in the streets of the neighborhoods concerned watching and spreading the word that this behavior is dangerous and wrong and will not be tolerated. And then groups have to come up with some alternatives for the kids to participate in. Get the kids involved in summer projects they can be proud of and learn to be part of a community.

Otto Walters

Thu, Aug 11, 2011 : 11:19 a.m.

Sounds like a great opportunity for constructive engagement and a Police Athletic League type of moment. It will be cheaper and more effective, and pay far greater dividends than the authoritarian route of trying to criminalize and punish the group.

Jed I Knight

Thu, Aug 11, 2011 : 5:27 a.m.

Organized chaotic behavior. Think about that....

Jed I Knight

Thu, Aug 11, 2011 : 5:25 a.m.

The first rule of the Fight Club is, there is no Fight Club.


Thu, Aug 11, 2011 : 2:40 a.m.

I have chose NOT to view the video, I have read all of the comments. I pray that there will be NO riots in West Willow like in London!


Thu, Aug 11, 2011 : 2:38 a.m.

That organized fights are an improvement over shootings and break-ins is sad, and yet I can see that it is an improvement in a way. That the neighborhood is labeled as a crime-infested dump and its residents as criminals and lowlifes when many of its citizens are clearly working hard to turn things around is shameful. Hats off to you who live and work there for sticking with it and giving it all you've got for the kids. A community center where kids could take part in boxing lessons, wrestling, basketball, etc. sounds like it would help. Has this been tried or would it be considered if money were found to do it? Would the kids participate? It would take some dedicated and hardy personnel to staff it, but it seems like it would be worth a try. If this is something the community would like to try, I would be interested in working on fundraising for it. Whom should I contact about this?


Thu, Aug 11, 2011 : 3:29 p.m.

I will be in touch next week; I think there is a great opportunity here. Sorry not to be available immediately, but this is something we will build over time. I look forward to it!

Monica R-W

Thu, Aug 11, 2011 : 3:48 a.m.

Thanks @A2Susie for offering to work together with our community to hash ideas for POSITIVE activities for children and teens. If this kind a synergy is build out the situation at hand, I for one believe that this is excellent change of course! Please feel free to connect with our Neighborhood Association Facebook page. We look forward to working with you, soon!

Angela Barbash

Thu, Aug 11, 2011 : 2:50 a.m.

Hi A2Susie, we're interested in all the help available from the community so please do get in touch with me -- -- 734.260.3095 Ironically my husband and I were just talking about how maybe we need to set up some boxing or martial arts lessons to teach these kids the basic tenants of respect, however as you say it would take a hardy and inspiring group of adults to run it -- but something to definitely consider. It would help run some of their angst and boredom down.

Paula Gardner

Thu, Aug 11, 2011 : 12:15 a.m.

An image from Youtube has been removed from this story. If you want to see a video, follow the link from Angela.


Thu, Aug 11, 2011 : 1:35 a.m.

posted at 3:37.


Thu, Aug 11, 2011 : 12:14 a.m.

In the McMansioned western burbs of the 275 corridor (Novi down to Canton) the teenagers set up backyard WWF-style throwdowns. Its the same concept except there probably aren't 80 people involved and when its over the kids all shuffle back home in their gated communities and play Grand Theft Auto and wish they were as tough as the kids in West Willow.

joe golder

Thu, Aug 11, 2011 : 12:02 a.m.

I have seen the kids gone wild thing on the news quite often . What makes it a fight club when it happens in the city I call home. If this went unchecked you tubers from all over the state would have wanted to be part of the sensation. Its to bad something so kids gone wild, will draw attention away from the great things the NWWNA has accomplished in the past year. Great job NWWNA!!

Wolf's Bane

Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 11:49 p.m.

Well, at least it is coed. That's a start. Now, if you could channel all of this energy into something, say, more positive you would really have something!


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 11:01 p.m.

A group of boys getting together and testing themselves? They've been doing that since the stone age. And long before that. Fight Clubs are hardly unique to the poor side of town, people need to get real. Me and my friends did this in the 1980s-1990s and I sure didn't live in a neighborhood like West Willow. Even though we beat the crap out of each other, blood was most definitely drawn, it did nothing but teach me how to defend myself and respect people more. I'm not saying it's right. The gambling is the part I especially don't like. But this is hardly the crime of the century.


Thu, Aug 11, 2011 : 1:34 a.m.

This was not a group of boys getting together fighting each other it was a group of boys urging girls to fight each other.

Angela Barbash

Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 9:15 p.m.

To -- the picture you've just added with the caption "An image from a video posted in April called "Willows Fight." It's one that police have viewed as part of their investigation." is NOT from West Willow. If you want a still, reference the video link in the comments below.

tom swift jr.

Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 8:53 p.m.

Darwin at work.


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 8:50 p.m.

I watched the video that Angela posted on her comment at 3:37pm on August 10, and it was most discouraging and sad. There were little children present watching this fighting, what lesson is this for them? It broke my heart that summertime is spent in this activity with so many other opportunities for a happy summer out there. Do something nice for someone, help a relative who is ill with their chores or errands, visit a friend or relative in the hospital, help a friend/relative's with their children, but don't spend time fighting, terrible fist-fighting, so destructive and unproductive. Very sad to watch that video and have the knowledge of this activity. Humans being so cruel to each other, really tragic.

Not from around here

Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 10:10 p.m.

Since people were there to witness and video was taken are theses thugs in jail? or were they allowed to walk?

Angela Barbash

Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 9:13 p.m.

It is very tragic, the number of little kids that are present in the videos. At the fight Monday night there were at least a half dozen kids from infant age in a stroller to 5 years old. We just couldn't believe it...


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 8:49 p.m.

SW40 needs to spend some time in West Willow and with the association. Progress is made in small steps not running past the problem. An organized group of people who beleive they can turn West Willow around will turn West Willow around. Are there parenting problems? Sure there are. Are there children not guided as well as SW40 would like? Sure there are. Burning off teenage energy has always been a problem. If you have the money and time the parent can help solve the problem. When the one parent works and the money puts a roof over their head and food on the table the problem is bigger. This association has been organized for a year and that was recruiting members and support. Takes a little over 10% to make a change in the group. If the kids see the association members walking toward them and leave then progress has been made from times past when it was only one adult. It can change and will change because the residents want it to change. By the way West Willow has a pretty good idea who is coming in from the outside. They in conjunction with the police moniter the traffic closely. Give them credit - they are serious.

Angela Barbash

Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 9:11 p.m.

Thanks Tom :) It's a team effort all around.


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 8:28 p.m.

The &quot;Willows&quot; video appears to be from &quot;Willows, CA&quot; Watch the users other is drifting in the mountains. <a href=",_California" rel='nofollow'>,_California</a>

Angela Barbash

Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 8:31 p.m.

I posted a link to one of the videos up a few comments -- check that out.


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 8:16 p.m.

I watched part of the video. One thing is pretty clear: kids need jobs or schools or sports -- something -- anything. That is way too many bored and energized teenagers to have in one place without getting trouble along with them.


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 8:06 p.m.

&quot;about 80 youths gather for the fights,&quot; Neighborhood Association President Angela Barbash said many of the kids appear to be from outside of the neighborhood She said the group was able to confirm on Facebook that &quot;some are from Ypsilanti High School and at least one is from Southfield&quot; Well if she did her investigation on Facebook case closed! What better place to confirm something! LOL

Angela Barbash

Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 8:13 p.m.

Our information isn't just from Facebook, that's just what was mentioned in the article.


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 8:05 p.m.

I can't believe all of the hypocrites on here saying for the most part kids will be kids and let it be. Typical Ann Arbor elitest mentality when it comes to Ypsi. They know damn well they wouldn't put up with a crowd of 80 kids screaming and yelling around 2 kids beating on eachother in front of their house or in the middle of the street in their neighborhood, but it's okay for Ypsi since Ypsi residents are a apparently bunch of lowlifes and after all it could be worse.


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 8:30 p.m.

Well, there's some truth in what you say, but maybe it doesn't reflect as badly on AA as you think. There's a community element to this, so maybe the community has to be the ones who won't put up with it. Let's give this community a chance to rise to the occasion and not put up with this.

Angela Barbash

Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 8:12 p.m.

Good point.


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 8 p.m.

Lets see can't blame the victim. Makes sense in most cases but not all cases. Suppose someone walks into a cage and punches a bear in the nose. Who do you suppose will end up as the victim? Who is to blame? May not presume guilt on the part of the accused. What if we say &quot;IF&quot; this person is guilty as charged they deserve... May not make blanket generalizations about groups of people. That apparently does not include political groups. May not speculate about factors that haven't been reported, among other things. So many of the stories are so incomplete it leaves lots of room for speculation. For a site that seems to invite all of these things with the typical &quot;reporting&quot; this seems to run against the grain.


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 7:59 p.m.

I really feel like this area is turning the corner and will be productive once again. The Township has done many positive things and they are starting to pay off. I still urge everyone living there to do the best they can to curb any problems. These are likely just a bunch of &quot;punk kids&quot; playing some new game they likely invented. Keep up the good work jobs are coming very soon to this area, and when they do it will be complete and total turnaround.

Monica R-W

Thu, Aug 11, 2011 : 2:12 a.m.

@Not From Around Here What company moves into a RESIDENTIAL community? Just wondering....

Not from around here

Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 8:42 p.m.

I feel this area is a waste of tax payers dollars. Videos like this show that its now a few punk kids but a whole sub culture built on violence. I wouldn't move a company to an area were I had to worry about the safety of my employees

Angela Barbash

Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 8:03 p.m.

Thanks for your vote of confidence Jon -- we're a pretty tenacious group of residents, we'll keep at it.


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 7:56 p.m.

I've often wondered if you ask someone what the first rule of Fight Club is and they answer, &quot;Don't talk about Fight Club&quot;, doesn't that response in and of itself break the first rule of Fight Club? Shouldn't the response be, &quot;I have no idea what you're talking about.&quot;?

Angela Barbash

Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 7:37 p.m.

<a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Here's one of the videos for those of you that have inquired -- Angela

Angela Barbash

Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 9:07 p.m.

Exactly why we're reaching out for help --


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 9:03 p.m.

This video is so sad. There were adults and young children present, what were they thinking? It was ugly and could have turned uglier. Needs to stop before someone is really hurt.

rusty shackelford

Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 7:22 p.m.

First we have an adolescent forced to join the sex offender registry for having consensual sex with a young woman his own age. Now we're calling cops on kids fighting. Let's just cut to the chase and make it illegal to be a boy between the ages of 13 and 18.


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 11:03 p.m.

Hahah love it.

Not from around here

Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 8:41 p.m.

Lots of dog fighting in this community historically too...


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 8:25 p.m.

This goes beyond kids being kids. This, in my opinion, is no different than dog fights. Maybe less blood and gore but the same mentality. This is just WRONG on so many levels.

Angela Barbash

Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 7:27 p.m.

It's not boys fighting, it's girls. Watch the videos and tell me if you still think we shouldn't be stepping in to squash this. Just youtube &quot;west willow fights&quot;.


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 7:20 p.m.

I guess I am a little fuzzy about the difference between a fight club and parachuting? Both are voluntary, the participant could get injured or killed, and an adrenaline rush is the goal.


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 7:20 p.m.

This article violates the first two rules of Fight Club.


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 7:15 p.m.

These folks want to fight? Then enlist in the army. They'll have plenty of chances to fight.

Monica R-W

Thu, Aug 11, 2011 : 2:08 a.m.

So true Mun, so true!


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 7:01 p.m.

The book and movie of &quot;fight club&quot; have been used by academics , especially at places like west point, to get a handle on how youths are attracted to hyperviolent terrorist groups....and the current crop of London riots are also relevant here, based on interviews i've heard with the seemingly near brain-dead participants.. In both above cases....and probably this one too... no high , well thought out social purpose so much as bored, lumpen dead-enders looking for a bit of drama .


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 6:53 p.m.

While this is odd, as long as the kids are willing participants I can't see what can be done about it to stop them. Seems to me one roundhouse kick to the head from Chuck Norris would convince them they don't want to do this again, but stupid is as stupid does I guess.

Not from around here

Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 8:35 p.m.

Wow, two teenage girls got into a knife fight after your meeting? Maybe we DO need a wall. Sorry Angela but your community needs a heck of a lot more than community organizers.

Angela Barbash

Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 7:08 p.m.

We all know that if Chuck Norris were here we'd have no problems, and in fact we'd prosper... ;) (couldn't resist some Chuck Norris levity) It seems that most of the fights are willing participants, but the one we broke up after the meeting Monday night had one girl jumping another, allegedly with a knife although it wasn't used. That to us is the beginning of an escalation.

Joe Hood

Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 6:35 p.m.

You do realize you messed up with the first rule of Fight Club? Where are the boxing clubs around here? Boxing might not be Ann Arbor's realm of PC but boxing still exists, for a reason.


Thu, Aug 11, 2011 : 2:49 p.m.

You mean the first two rules?

Adam Jaskiewicz

Thu, Aug 11, 2011 : 11:21 a.m.

That was my thought too. Give 'em gloves, a ring, and some supervision.


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 7:17 p.m.

&quot;Boxing might not be Ann Arbor's realm of PC.&quot; James &quot;Lights Out&quot; Toney went to Huron.

Jojo B

Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 7:02 p.m.

I thought that too. Ironically, Tyler Rd. goes right through the neighborhood. That can't be a coincidence.


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 6:13 p.m.

kids for a long time have always done stupid things. However, I would say, where the heck are the parents and why are they not parenting? I also recently read a story on a major website that said something to the effect that more physcologists are seeing childern that are narcistic and have sociopath behaviors. The ability to post every aspect of their lives on line through sites such as facebook makes them think the world revolves around them and then watch fights on youtube leads them to have no empathy or concern for others. We've always had some losers in every generation, just wonder if there will be a generation of losers.


Thu, Aug 11, 2011 : 4:39 a.m.

We live in a society where violence is glorified, and sexuality is frowned upon. For instance, a movie might be rated R due to sexual themes...but violent movies are not...and Bunny....The words are Psychologists,narcissistic, and sociopathic behaviors. Not to be snarky...but that's why they invented spell-check.


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 9:23 p.m.

Because these kids are being raised by kids who probably barely had any semblance of family life. It is a case of the blind leading the blind. Kids raising kids.


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 5:47 p.m.

All I've got to say is Ouch!


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 5:22 p.m.

So, is this illegal or not in Michigan? Not saying this is good but sans gambling, I don't see how this is illegal? It is even stated as much &quot;"If we can (make the) identification then I can start knocking on doors and curtailing this before it gets out of control," he said. &quot; Notice how he did not say arrests would be made!


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 5:21 p.m.

LOL... ann arbor loves blaming their crime on ypsi. maybe ypsi should start blaming their crime on ann arbor! but i guess southfield will have to do.


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 5:17 p.m.

Just like in Ann Arbor, crime in West Willow seems to be perpetuated by those from OUT OF TOWN!!!

Angela Barbash

Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 5:17 p.m.

Thanks Tom for posting this story -- we can use all the help that we can get. Everyone please take the time to do a search on YouTube for &quot;west willow fights&quot;, look for the videos that were posted within the last two weeks. If you can identify any of the kids (or adult spectators) in the video please contact the Sheriff's Department or the Neighborhood Association (<a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>. As bigblue said, when flash fist fights between teenage girls are the biggest problem a historically troubled neighborhood is having, then we have indeed come a long way.

Angela Barbash

Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 7:06 p.m.

Thank you for the suggestion, we are engaged with the Dispute Resolution Center in Ann Arbor as well.


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 6:54 p.m.

Angela: As I was reading the article, I thought there may have been somewhat or an overreaction to some neighborhood kids entertaining themselves When I went to facebook, I was appalled at what I saw. Your folks are right to get on top of this right away before this escalate into something major. I would advise that you contact a mental health professional to get some guidance as to why these kids find it necessary to act our violently. Oftentimes we try to develop a response that totally out of touch with what's motivating things that we miss the mark. This could spill over into the school year..


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 5:10 p.m.

&quot;....many of the kids appear to be from outside of the neighborhood. &quot; Took a page straight out of the Ann Arbor handbook I see. Well played.


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 10:28 p.m.

Well sure...this happened in an Ann Arbor area neighborhood after all. LOL

Monica R-W

Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 4:46 p.m.

Tom, thanks for being on this story. Yes, someone has indeed been going on surrounding these fights among teens. The videos prove that these &quot;fights&quot; are a form of organized chaotic behavior is occurring on behalf of a rouge element. The question remains why are their adults hanging around watching these teenage rouge element fight for show, in these videos?


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 4:45 p.m.

well, at least none of them are fire bombing houses or shooting at sheriff deputies. compared to the 80's and 90's if all you have to worry about is some fist fights then you should consider yourself lucky.

Paula Gardner

Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 4:32 p.m.

We'd like to remind readers of our conversation guidelines. Comments may not presume guilt on the part of the accused, blame the victim, make blanket generalizations about groups of people, or speculate about factors that haven't been reported, among other things. Full guidelines here: <a href=""></a>. Thank you in advance for adhering to this policy.