Detroit, Michigan had highways and skyscrapers due to the urban renewal program. There were once many employment opportunities due to the booming auto industry; the city was prosperous. Soon, unemployment would rise as the automobile industry began to move, the economic state was declining in Detroit. African American communities did not benefit from the urban renewal program. Large expressways were built in their communities, dividing residents. The streets and neighborhoods were demolished; one could no longer walk across the street to greet a neighbor.
The police force in Detroit was 95% white. The four man squads known as the big four were the most brutal at the time. African Americans were grabbed, assaulted, or arrested by the police. During this time period, an African American man walking down the street or just standing at a corner could face violence, be questioned, asked to present ID, etc. Officers harassed them and treated them with unwarranted aggression. African Americans were often not guilty of crime or suspicious activity, white police targeted them solely because of the color of their skin. To just be walking down a sidewalk and be violently thrust against a brick wall is an example of the discrimination and brutality communities had suffered for decades. White police treated African Americans like the color of their skin was a crime. It is heartbreaking that in even within the past few years the same violence and brutality exists. Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, Michael Brown, and countless others are victims of injustices and brutality.
During the summer of 1967 the tensions between police and African American communities were high. The spark for the riot came when police busted a blind pig. Soon the streets were thick with people; there were fires, and looting. The 9PM curfew was ignored, thousands lined the streets to riot. Police and National guard shot out streetlights and firefighters from over 35 communities were working to put out the fires. Some felt excited, others felt frustrated, some confused, and others were scared to be attacked by looters, national guard, policemen, and rioters. Hundreds were injured, two had died in fires, and six dead. It was recommended that President Johnson send troops to assist in Detroit. 17,000 law enforcement from police, national guard, etc. were present in the three days. 7,200 people were arrested.
The riot was the result of people having enough and being fed up with the discrimination, racial profiling, and police brutality. Just walking down the street and doing nothing could cause someone to be assaulted. That being said, it was time, for many, to start doing something and rebel. In addition to the violence African American communities faced, housing conditions, increased unemployment, and poor conditions in schools contributed to the frustration of rioters.