Detroit’s dangerous relationship with Cartier Buffalo sunglasses

Popular sunglasses also known as Buffs, White Buffs, All-White Buffies

Defenders explore Detroit's dangerous relationship with Cartier glasses.
Defenders explore Detroit's dangerous relationship with Cartier glasses.

DETROIT – Cartier Buffalo sunglasses are frequently mentioned in pop culture and is known as a status symbol that is unique to Detroit.

Many may consider the price tag of more than $2,500 to be frivolous and others claim the glasses represent success.

The price isn’t only paid in dollars, sometimes Cartier sunglasses can cost lives.

In May 2019, 18-year-old Lateo Garrett was killed at a gas station on Seven Mile Road near Outer Drive. According to authorities, a man tried to grab his glasses and when Garrett stepped back, he was shot.

In May 2012, 23-year-old Ellis Ross was killed at a birthday party over his sunglasses.

In 2016, a peace rally in Detroit turned violent over Cartier sunglasses.

Detroit police claims these are crimes of opportunity and the glasses don’t cause crime, but local pawn shop owners claim otherwise -- and crime statistics support that.

According to the Detroit Police Department, between 2012 and 2016, Cartier glasses were involved in nine homicides, 17 nonfatal shootings and more than 2,000 robberies.

Local 4 was told by one local pawn shop clerk to not wear Cartier glasses in the city.

Deputy chief Marlon Wilson said there has been a reduction of Cartier-related crime since. Police statistics claim there’s only been 19 robberies involving Cartier glasses from 2017 to 2019.

If Cartier glasses are such a risk, why do people wear them?

“Well, it’s because that emotional attachment is there. The rational mind might say, ‘Oh, this is unsafe,’ or ‘Oh, I can’t afford it and maybe I should invest this money,'” said Whitney Jeneretti, a licensed professional counselor. “But the emotional mind is saying ‘You deserve it.' It’s a status quo, this is something that Detroit is known for.”

Jeneretti said the emotional mind usually wins and sometimes the decision is about pride.

Sometimes the cost of pride is more than anyone expected to pay.

About the Authors:

Karen Drew is the anchor of Local 4 News First at 4, weekdays at 4 p.m. She is also an award-winning investigative reporter and part of the Local 4 Defenders team.

Dane is a producer and media enthusiast. He previously worked freelance video production and writing jobs in Michigan, Georgia and Massachusetts. Dane graduated from the Specs Howard School of Media Arts.