I probably won’t last through the night, so I’m setting these words down for posterity. People need to know…they need to know the truth. Unlike what is being reported, the Great Michigan Salt Riots were not the result of a random act of violence. Rather it was a deliberate act of rebellion by a tired people pushed too far, and it all started in Ann Arbor. I was witness to the spark that set fire to a state…

The winter of 2008 had been harder and produced more snow than anyone could have reasonably imagined. There were rumors circulating that the state of Michigan had run out of salt, but when the morning of March 3rd dawned bright and sunny, rapidly melting away all the snow from the previous storms, the people were relieved, believing the worst of winter was behind them.

March 4th, however, held a surprise. Another storm formed in the Midwest and set itself to strike Ann Arbor. By the evening rush hour, the snow was falling and freezing hard as it hit the ground. By 8pm, the roads were treacherous. By 6am, another five inches of ice and snow had been dropped on the roads. Ann Arbor, as always, was late to begin plowing, and by the morning commute, plows had begun clearing only the major roadways. Every public school in the county had shut down, and the major highways were blocked with accidents.

Commuters braving the roads would get stuck in turns as their tires lost traction or would find themselves sliding into the curbs or, even worse, other drivers. In a last ditch effort, the city loaded the salt trucks with sand to provide traction. However, they failed to take into account the rain of the previous days…wet sand doesn’t fall from the salt spreaders…

It was at the bus stop at the corner of Birch Hollow and Stone School. Five, maybe six people were gathered in the frigid morning air waiting for a bus that was hopelessly late. The conversation started innocently enough…simply remarking on the year’s record-breaking snowfall. Soon, however, the conversation turned to Ann Arbor’s continued ineptitude when it came to winter road management. The refusal to plow any roads when less than five inches of snow fell, the wasteful dumping of copious amounts of salt on roads when the temperature was too low for the salt to be effective and the near impassibility of many streets due to the potholes…testimony to the inability the road crew to build and maintain a road capable of withstanding even the mildest winters.

The anger in the crowd was a palpable, growing thing. When the bus was twenty minutes late and the group grew tired of standing in snow covering their ankles, they began to look for a suitable focus for their anger. When the next sand truck drove by without spilling enough sand to stop the car behind it from sliding into the curb at the bus stop, the group’s anger transformed from spark to action. The truck was pulled over and the driver thrown from the cab. The group piled onto the truck throwing sand on the road by hand as they headed towards City Hall. More and more residents pulled into line behind the truck, though whether they intended to join the rebellion or were just grateful for a path with traction, we’ll never know. What we do know is that City Hall burned that day and the news and flames spread rapidly to the surrounding cities until the flames could be seen throughout the entire state.

As for me, I made my way back home to protect my wife and child…but my neighbors know of my dedication to Alton Brown. I’ve hidden my family in the basement, but the neighbors…they’re coming…they’re coming for the Kosher salt…