Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Detroit Burning Circa 1967 - Riots

Note the gas at $.28 cents a gallon.

The origins of urban unrest in Detroit were rooted in a history of political, economic, and social issues including police abuse, lack of affordable housing, urban renewal projects, economic inequality, black militancy, and rapid demographic change.

The Detroit Rebellion of 1967, labeled a "Riot" by the media, began when police vice squad officers executed a raid on an after hours drinking club or “blind pig” in a predominantly black neighborhood located at 12th Street and Clairmount Avenue.

They were expecting to round up a few patrons, but instead found 82 black people inside holding a party for two returning black Vietnam War Veterans. The officers thinking this would lead to a big promotion, attempted to arrest everyone who was on the scene. While the police awaited a “paddy wagon” to transport the arrestees, a crowd gathered around the establishment in protest. After the last police car left, a small group of men who were “confused and upset because they were kicked out of the only place they had to go” lifted up the bars of an adjacent clothing store and broke the windows.

National Guard attempt to quell uprising in Detroit, circa 1967.
National Guard patrolling Detroit during 1967 riots.

From this point of origin, further reports of vandalism spread. Looting and fires exploded through the Northwest side of Detroit, and then crossed over to the East Side. Within 48 hours, the National Guard was marshaled, to be followed by the 82nd airborne on the uprising's fourth day. As police and military troops sought to regain control of the city, violence escalated. At the end of 5 days of rebellion, 43 people lay dead, 1189 injured and over 7000 people had been arrested.

The city never fully recovered from the riots, setting off a spiral of white flight and urban decay.Today Detroit is a mere shell of it's former self, a punch line in jokes, a city of once nearly 2 million now of 600,000.


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