Detroit Riots


Detroit Riots Essay, Research Paper

Detroit Riots

Many civil disorders have erupted across the United States. Racial tensions were at a highpoint in the 1960 s with riots and looting throughout the major cities in the United States. This was not such a problem in the rural areas but the urban areas had serious racial problems between black and white people. Throughout the 1960 s blacks and whites clearly demonstrated that they had many problems living segregated in the urban areas. It was a civil explosion that you can clearly see from the Detroit riots in 1967. Detroit experienced the worst civil disorder of any American city in the 20th century. Prior to July 23, 1967 Detroit had managed to avoid riots that had erupted in other major cities such as Harlem, Cleveland, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

Day 1

At 3:45 a.m. on Sunday July 23, 1967 twelve officers did a routine raid in a Blind Pig on 12th street. There were 82 people arrested. As the last squad car was loading with prisoners, a crowd of about 200 people gathered. They made threats towards the police and incited the crowd that had gathered. The squad car began to leave and the crowd began to throw bottles and rocks, which shattered the back window of the squad car. This started off the worst riot of the 20th century.

Shortly after 5 a.m. stores were being broken into, rocks and bricks were smashing through windows. By 11 a.m. a crowd of about a thousand people were surrounding a smaller crowd of about a hundred or so people that were swarming the streets taunting the police and firemen. After that the looting began to take off in different spots all over the entire city.

Day 2

In the second day of rioting the Mayor issued a curfew. All people had to be off the streets between 9 p.m. and 5:30 a.m. and no alcoholic beverages were to be sold or possessed which was not followed the rioters. At 12:25 the first death was reported. A 45 year-old white male life was claimed when he was shot by a white store owner who claimed the man was looting his store. This was only the beginning for the many more fatalities that continued throughout the riots.

The burning and looting continued throughout the night. An entire block was reported on fire in the area of Dexter and Davison. This was just one of the some 1,680 fires that would be set during the riots and looting.

Day 3

On the third day of the riot the eastside began to get just as much looting and rioting as the westside was. During this time gunfire began to increase heavily. There were 38 reports of sniper fire on the westside and 11 on the eastside. During the day there was a decrease in gunfire, but there were still hundreds of fires set throughout the city. A white extremist was reported barricading several streets with cars on the far eastside.

The first hundred prisoners from the riots were now being transported under heavy security to Jackson prison, 250 were transported to Ingham county jail, and 300 to the federal penitentiary in Milan. Heavy gunfire and sniper attacks brought the third day of riots to an end.

Day 4

The forth day of rioting on Wednesday, July 26 turned out to be one of the worst days of the riot. Of the 43 total fatalities that took place during the riot 7 of them were in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

The Harlan House incident in which the victim Helen Hall, 50, of Okdale, Connecticut was shot by guards after she was shooting at a police squad car that was on the near by free way. She was in Detroit to inventory electrical supplies that were purchased by her firm. (Locke 43-44)

The Tonya Blanding incident. Only four years old at the time Tonya was lying in the living room of her family s second floor apartment when guards opened fire with rifles and a tank s .50-caliber machine gun. When the firing stopped they found young Tonya lying dead in the living room. (Lee & Humphrey 109)

The gunfire started to cease for a couple of hours. Then at 2:55 p.m. a flurry of gunfire rang out. It was mostly snipers firing at the police precincts and fire departments. Throughout Wednesday night the rioting and looting was mild.

Day 5

The fifth day Saturday, July 27, city, state, and federal officials turned their major attention to the gigantic health, food, and housing needs of the riot s victims. The state police were withdrawn from the city and ordered to resume regular duties. Cobo Hall and Belle Isle were used as facilities for the victims. At 11 a.m. 1400 prisoners were released. Most of them were curfew violators.

Day 6

The sixth day Friday, July 28 was really calm until midnight when there was reported gunfire on the northwest side. When police arrived they found that it was family trouble. The police had position guards at different spots all over the city but mainly at the highschools. The police now had more than 7,000 people in custody.

Day 7

The seventh day Saturday, July 29, the police department had to remove a barricade of buses that were blocking a portion of Macomb street. At 11 a.m. 1,400 prisoners, primarily curfew violators were released.

Day 8

The eighth day Sunday, July 30, the riot was over for all practical purposes. There were a few isolated trouble spots, which involved street fights, family trouble, or loot selling. ” At 9:24 p.m. a squad car was sent to the State Fair Grounds with orders to protect the Army boys; the girls are after them.” (Lochbiler 314) These were good signs that things were returning back to normal.

Day 9

The ninth day was Monday, July 31. Exactly when the riot officially ended is a matter of debate. The army troops left on Tuesday, August 1; the perimeter around the police headquarters, the county jail, and the recorder s court were removed August 3; the National Guard was demobilized the following weekend. For the Detroit police officers the end came when the police superintendent, Eugene Reuter, ordered them to return to normal 8-hour days on midnight, July 31. (Shogan 124) ” It had been a costly battle: 43 dead, over 700 known injured, some $ 50 million dollars in property damage and unfold and incalculable loss in wages and tax revenues to the city. Detroit had just been through the worst experience of urban violence in the nation s history.” (Widick 172)

The Thursday after the riot community leaders called a mass meeting to discuss the rebuilding of the city. They went through a whole spectrum of thoughts, positions, and opinions of what to do in Detroit. They passed an open housing ordinance, which would raise money to rebuild houses and buildings. They setup programs to hire people who were unemployed to help rebuild the city. (Holli 229)

Many African-American groups got together after the riots to figure out strategies on how to rebuild the primarily African-American city. One of the major groups was the NAACP. They have done much to try to rebuild the city, but to this day Detroit has not been completely rebuilt.

With Mayor Dennis Archer replacing Mayor Coleman Young who was in office during the riots. Mayor Archer has been very successful in getting Detroit back up to 100%. He has brought casino gambling which will be in Detroit very soon and he has helped fix up the downtown area. The main problem is the buildings and houses surrounding the downtown area. They are still in pretty rough shape.

I would love to see Detroit get back to 100% in my lifetime and I believe it is possible. When I go to visit my friends and relatives who live in Detroit I can t help but to wonder what it used to be like there. They tell me Detroit had tons of great shopping centers and there were always lots of people out everywhere. When I go there now it looks like a ghost town; nobody out and there is a bunch of abandoned buildings and houses. I really hope to see the rebuilt version of Detroit.

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