Detroit 1967

Blog Post 2

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.

6 thoughts on “Detroit 1967

  1. It’s plain to see, if a person can get harrassed and arrested by the police for doing nothing other than minding their own business, they must have felt that they had nothing else to lose. The Detroit Riot of ’67 is clearly the result anger built up because of inhumane living condition and systemic racism that was sparked by police brutality. The people were fed up; they couldn’t bear it anymore. Even troops being called in to assist the police did not deter the rioters.

    1. Exactly. People can only be pushed so far before they react. For far too long the African American people had been dealing with being considered second class citizens and treated unfairly. The fact that the Detroit Riots happened isn’t shocking to me, what IS shocking is that it didn’t happen sooner.

  2. It is really sad when you see, read and watch just how devastating the circumstances of racial inequality and blight has hit the Detroit communities. A victim of unfortunate economical circumstances, poor neighborhoods bore the blunt of “white flight” and were left with a shell of existence. This city had and still has so much to offer but during the late 1960’s the turmoil was so out of control and brutality was at an all time high. The real misfortune is that brutality continues today and many Americans are victims of these circumstances.

    1. Yes it really is upsetting that such a beautiful city underwent as much as it did, and still does, you can see today that the city is up and coming and is beginning to be able to offer lot more.

  3. Great post Samantha! It is horrible what African Americans had to go through in the streets of Detroit. I’m not sure if you watched the movie Detroit, it is a visual of the 1967 riot. Some of the people from the movie are still alive and living in Detroit. There is cases where innocent blacks are killed by white police officers and they faced minimal punishment for their crimes. And to add on school systems for African Americans, they are still the less privileged as far as getting a decent education.

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