The tragic, true, ongoing story of a Detroit myth, White Boy Rick
July 22, 2018 7:50 PM   Subscribe

If you're not from the Detroit area, or if you're not familiar with Kid Rock's second album, particularly the single "Back from the Dead" [explicit lyrics], the name White Boy Rick probably doesn't mean much to you. But if you are, he may be more of a myth, the baby-faced mega-dealer who drove white jeep with the words THE SNOWMAN emblazoned on the rear. In 2014, Evan Hughes reported at depth on the unlikely story of the youngest informant for the FBI, who at that time was still behind bars despite the Supreme Court banning mandatory life sentences for minors that saw others released, as earlier reported by Seth Ferranti in The Fix.

Update: last July (2017), The Michigan Parole Board voted to grant Richard Wershe Jr., known as "White Boy Rick," parole after nearly 30 years in prison.
The 47-year-old was just 17 when he was sentenced to life in prison without parole for a drug conviction. He has been the state of Michigan's longest serving nonviolent juvenile offender.

etired FBI agent Gregg Schwarz, who worked with Wershe while he was in prison to bust dirty cops and criminals, released the following statement:

"Finally, after 29 years, a juvenile who was incarcerated and deserved a sentence of between five and 10 years is finally free. The case of Richard Wershe Junior should now remain as the gold standard for city, state, and even federal government corruption. Now we can let the media tell the story behind 29 years of incarceration which involved so many in the city of Detroit."
'White Boy' Rick Wershe [Jr.] is now housed at Florida state prison, as of Sept. 20, 2017.
Richard "White Boy Rick" Wershe Jr. has arrived in Florida to serve his prison sentence for a crime he pleaded guilty to while behind bars in Michigan.

He now is being housed at the Reception and Medical Center state prison in Lake Butler, Fla. The Florida Department of Corrections lists his current release date as April 20, 2021.
If Wershe serves all his time in Florida it could be a little more than three and a half years, but he will also be eligible to ask for release through clemency in as little as a few months. Wershe said he will stay positive and do everything he can to gain early release.

"I have to deal with it, and whatever it is, that's what I'm going to do," Wershe said.
Meanwhile, Matthew McConaughey will portray Richard Wershe Sr. in the docu-drama White Boy Rick, due out September 14th.

The Florida Clemency Board meets to discuss Rick's request to have his "penalty [converted] to one less severe" on September 19th.
posted by filthy light thief (7 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Hughes' The Trial of White Boy Rick was also published in 2014 as a Kindle Single on Amazon.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:43 PM on July 22, 2018

That first album tho. Oh my. I have a cassette tape somewhere of him performing the classic(?) ode to cunnilingus, Yodelin' in the Valley.
posted by k8t at 9:42 PM on July 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

Wershe was pinched on the same Detroit street where he grew up, carrying the drugs, $25,000 in cash, and driving a shiny new Ford Thunderbird that was registered in his girlfriend's name. She was five years older than him, married to Eastside drug kingpin Johnny Curry, and, as luck would have it, the niece of Mayor Coleman Young. Authorities later found eight kilos of cocaine that they linked to Wershe. On January 15, 1988, he was convicted and sentenced to life in prison under Michigan's draconian 650 lifer law, which has since been abolished.

The whole thing was stupid and terrible, for a variety of reasons. Coleman Young's corruption, the corruption of the DPD, the War on (Some) Drugs, etc., etc. He simply shouldn't have spent that much time in jail. But the same must be said for legions of other people who aren't white.

As a minor footnote to the FPP, and minor side-rant...caveat Robert James Richie: Kid Rock's posh childhood home listed in Macomb County for $1.3M.

the classic(?) ode to cunnilingus, Yodelin' in the Valley.

Well familiar. It reads like a young, straight, white male talking about how much he is squicked out by the genitals of women. Odd, that.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:01 PM on July 22, 2018 [3 favorites]

As a side note: In this age of Trump and May, the farce version of Reagan and Thatcher, there is a single upside. The sheer smuggery of the eighties is dead - the confident, suburban, small-minded white smuggery at the back of the media and law around this case. These are terrible times, but at the very least white fascism has to call itself what it is, and the failure of Reagan's and Thatcher's economic policies means that their partisans can't pretend to do anything except carry water for the rich.

I remember this kind of eighties quite well - the racist panic over rap music and drugs, the disgusting cop-worship and moral panics whipped up by what were then the new model of crime show.

And another thing: You know what I hate about America? The use of narratives about crime and criminals for sort of fasci-tainment, where the commonality and the media conspire together to enjoy a mob mentality. It's not just that moral panics are imposed upon the good citizens; it's that the good citizens enjoy being whipped up into a hateful froth. The rap and drug panics of the eighties (which were inextricable from each other) were the pizzagates of their day, and people bought into them because it was fun and entertaining.
posted by Frowner at 6:40 AM on July 23, 2018 [9 favorites]

This is an incredible article. It is extremely worth the long time it takes to read. Fantastic post, and as always fantastic work by The Atavist
posted by neonrev at 6:46 AM on July 23, 2018 [5 favorites]

> Trump and May, the farce version of Reagan and Thatcher

"first as tragedy then as farce"
posted by Leon at 9:34 AM on July 23, 2018

A....delicious break from potatoes? I am so confused.
posted by lazaruslong at 5:41 AM on July 24, 2018

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