Detroit July 1967
Detroit July 1967
In July 1967 the civil unrest that had been spreading across the United States reached Detroit. In the early morning hours of July 23, Detroit police officers raided a blind pig, an illegal after-hours bar, where patrons were celebrating the return of Vietnam War servicemen. Located at Clairmount Avenue and Twelfth Street (later Rosa Parks Boulevard), the bar was within a mostly African-American business district that has an active nightlife. While the police arrested all eighty-five people inside, a crowd formed outside. Reacting to the arrests, a few people threw rocks and bottles at the police. By eight a.m., the crowd had grown to an estimated 3,000 people, and arson and looting were underway. Mayor Jerome Cavanagh and Governor George Romney agreed to deploy the Michigan National Guard that afternoon. Federal Army troops joined the guard two days later.
Detroit's civil unrest on Twelfth Street continued for four days until July 27, 1967. More than 1,600 buildings were destroyed after fires spread from the business district to nearby residences. Property damage was estimated to be $132 million. Around 7,200 people were arrested, hundreds were injured and forty-three people died, including bystanders, looters, a fireman and a National Guardsman. In response to the conflicts in Detroit and throughout the country, President Lyndon B. Johnson created the Kerner Commission to investigate the causes of the violence. It concluded that although the specific episodes of violence were spontaneous, they were in response to poverty, segregation, racism, unemployment, "frustrations of powerlessness" and police actions that enforced a double standard for how people of different races were treated.