One Year: 1986

Season 3: Episode 1

No Crime Day

Would Isiah Thomas’ vision of a crime-free world set Detroit on a new path, or was it a recipe for failure?


Episode Notes

Basketball star Isiah Thomas had an audacious plan to transform Detroit: asking criminals to stay on the good side of the law for 24 hours. Would “No Crime Day” set the city on a new path, or was it a recipe for failure?

One Year is produced by Evan Chung, Sophie Summergrad, Sam Kim, Madeline Ducharme, and Josh Levin.

Derek John is Sr. Supervising Producer of Narrative Podcasts and Merritt Jacob is Sr. Technical Director.

Sources for This Episode


Young, Coleman. Hard Stuff: The Autobiography of Mayor Coleman Young, Viking, 1994.


Abrams, Alan and D.W. Dorken. “There’s no vacation from violence in Murder City,” Windsor Star, Sept. 29, 1986.

Alpert, Bruce. “No time for crime today,” Detroit News, Sept. 27, 1986.

Berkow, Ira. “The Pistons’ New Attraction,” New York Times, Dec. 4, 1981.

Clark, Hattie. “One day to make a city safe. Basketball star Isiah Thomas makes a gift to Detroit: ‘No Crime Day’,” Christian Science Monitor, Sept. 26, 1986.

DuPree, David. “Piston Isiah Thomas Finds a Kind World,” Washington Post, Dec. 29, 1981.

FBI Stats Show Detroit Remains Nation’s Murder Capital,” Associated Press, May 11, 1987.

Fears, Darryl. “City official was Isiah’s backup for No Crime Day,” Detroit Free Press, Sept. 27, 1986.

Foster, Terry. “The Down Side,” Detroit Free Press, May 6, 1990.

Franklin, Stephen. “Isiah issues call for involvement,” Detroit Free Press, Sept. 28, 1986.

Gavrilovich, Peter. “Chicago started No Crime Day,” Detroit Free Press, Sept. 27, 1986.

Gavrilovich, Peter. “March of hope: Neighborhood clubs try for safer community,” Detroit Free Press, Sept. 28, 1986.

Hart, Marla. “Mary Thomas’ story is a tale of a mother’s will,” Chicago Tribune, Dec. 3, 1989.

Harvey, Randy. “The NBA’s Little Prince Has Gone From Chicago’s Mean Streets to Life of Wealth and Fame–but He Remembers,” Los Angeles Times, March 24, 1985.

Howard, Johnette. “One man’s dream day,” Detroit Free Press, Sept. 25, 1986.

Hunter, George and Hayley Harding. “Detroit remains among nation’s most violent big cities, FBI statistics show,” Detroit News, Sept. 27, 2021.

“Isiah Appleseed,” Detroit News, Sept. 25, 1986.

Jones, Linda, Cindy Loose, Denise Stinson, Chauncey Bailey, Monroe Walker, Jim Tobin, Mike Martindale and Robert Ourillan. “Isiah rallies No Crime Day crowd,” Detroit News, Sept. 28, 1986.

Kresnak, Jack and Darryl Fears. “Policeman shot dead by mistake,” Detroit Free Press, Sept. 28, 1986.

Loose, Cindy. “Isiah Thomas courts city’s street people,” Detroit News, Sept. 14, 1986.

Loose, Cindy. “Ugly memories of crime drive Isiah,” Detroit News, Sept. 7, 1986.

“Man Acquitted in Fatal Shooting of Police Officer on City’s No Crime Day,” Associated Press, Jan. 16, 1987.

Nack, William. “’I have got to do right’,” Sports Illustrated, Jan. 19, 1987.

“No Crime Day: From City Hall to homes, the effort must continue,” Detroit Free Press, Sept. 27, 1986.

“People with guns ended 33 childhoods in Detroit,” Detroit Free Press, Dec. 28, 1986.

Risen, James. “Isiah Thomas Asks Day of Peace in Violent Detroit: NBA Star Challenges Crime One-on-One,” Los Angeles Times, Sept. 27, 1986.

Schiller, Bill. “Murder City returns,” Toronto Star, Sept. 28, 1986.

Sinclair, Norm. “Crimeless day saw no letup in crime,” Detroit News, Sept. 29, 1986.

Strother, Shelby. “Street kids: Isiah Thomas returns to help troubled youths,” Gannett News Service, Aug. 13, 1986.

Swickward, Joe. “No one-day fix,” Detroit Free Press, Sept. 29, 1986.

“The Crime Game,” Detroit News, Sept. 5, 1986.

“Thousands of Detroiters show they’ve had enough,” Detroit Free Press, Sept. 28, 1986.

Vincent, Charlie. “Crime or no crime, Isiah knows whereof he speaks,” Detroit Free Press, Sept. 27, 1986.

Walker, Monroe and Mike Martindale. “Mistaken for burglar, Detroit officer is slain,” Detroit News, Sept. 28, 1986.

Watson, Susan. “Sadness, surprise filled hoped-for day of miracles,” Detroit Free Press, Sept. 28, 1986.

Weinreb, Michael. “The Day Innocence Died,” ESPN.

Wilkerson, Isabel. “Detroit killing mars ‘No Crime Day,’ ” New York Times, Sept. 28, 1986.

Wilkerson, Isabel. “Urban homicide rates in U.S. up sharply in 1986,” New York Times, Jan. 15, 1987.

Wilson, Danton. “A day of mourning, resistance to crime,” Michigan Chronicle, Sept. 13, 1986.

Wilson, Danton. “Isiah’s no-nonsense, ‘no-crime,’ message to city’s youth,” Michigan Chronicle, Sept. 20, 1986.


About the Show

The people and struggles that changed America—one year at a time. In each episode, host Josh Levin explores a story you may have forgotten, or one you’ve never heard of before. What were the moments that transformed politics, culture, science, religion, and more? And how does the nation’s past shape our present?

The third season of One Year covers 1986, a year when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded, the mystery of Al Capone’s vaults got solved, and a sea lion named Herschel caused chaos in Seattle.

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