Blocked off: Clio Road business owners in Flint say partiers cut off access

The owner of Dawn Donuts drives his employees to work because he’s afraid for their safety
Published: Jul. 22, 2021 at 6:57 PM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - Businesses and neighbors say they are held hostage by drag racers turning Clio Road into their own party speedway.

Flint Police Chief Terence Green is well aware of the issue and he’s been working to put a stop to it for months, but he said more help is necessary. The police department is asking the Flint City Council to lease a helicopter as a backup.

Clio Road is covered in tire tracks and skid marks in the business district on Flint’s north side. The owner of Dawn Donuts said he’s also been picking up their trash like leftover food, broken beer and liquor bottles for months.

“It’s to the point to where my bakers are afraid to come to work, you know. And if I don’t have my bakers, I don’t have my business,” said Dawn Donuts owner Hudie Langston.

His employees arrive to work every day at 4 a.m. Throughout the pandemic, Langston said they’ve shown up to find drag racers on the street and sometimes in his parking lot -- their party just getting started.

So, Langston had his bakers drive to his house, so he could drive them into work.

“I’m just trying to protect my business,” he said. “I’m trying to protect my workers, because I have women that have families. They have children, you know, and if something happened to one of them and I don’t say anything, then I’m part of the problem.”

Langston said the crowds grew larger as coronavirus pandemic restrictions lifted. He’s called police several times and they’ve emptied his parking lot for him, but he ended up waiting two hours to open because the partygoers had blocked off his entrance Sunday morning.

“You can feel my frustration. I’m just frustrated, you know. I’m kind of over it, you know,” Langston said. “If it don’t get better, I’m contemplating just shutting the whole thing down.”

Langston opened Dawn Donuts a year ago with the intention of building his community up.

“You know, you got a lot of kids that don’t have jobs. I got young people working here that normally would be in the street,” he said.

Langston is not sure what the solution is to the ongoing street parties. He supports anything that would help police address the problem, including Green’s plan to bring in a police helicopter to provide eyes in the sky and catch drag racers speeding away from officers.

The Flint City Council is scheduled to vote on the $300,000 helicopter lease on Monday. In the meantime, Flint police will be patrolling on special overtime assignments and they plan to invoke a state law allowing them to take away cars from anyone they arrest.

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