July 23, 2017

50 years ago today: Day 1 of the 12th Street Riot.

Wikipedia has the history of the Detroit riot that would go on for 5 days. There were 43 deaths, 1,189 injured, and 7,231 arrested. Ending the riot took the Michigan Army National Guard (sent in by Governor George W. Romney) and the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions of the United States Army (sent by President Lyndon B. Johnson). This is the account of the first day, 50 years ago:
In the early hours of Sunday (3:45 a.m.), July 23, 1967, Detroit police officers raided the unlicensed weekend drinking club in the office of the United Community League for Civic Action, above the Economy Printing Company, at 9125 12th Street. They expected a few revelers inside, but instead found a party of 82 blacks celebrating the return of two local GIs from the Vietnam War. The police decided to arrest everyone present. While they were arranging for transportation, a sizable crowd of onlookers gathered on the street. Later, in a memoir, Walter Scott III, a doorman whose father was running the raided blind pig, took responsibility for starting the riot by inciting the crowd and throwing a bottle at a police officer.

After the police left, the mob began looting an adjacent clothing store. Shortly thereafter, full-scale looting began throughout the neighborhood. State police, Wayne County sheriffs, and the Michigan National Guard were alerted, but because it was Sunday, it took hours for the Police Commissioner Ray Girardin to assemble sufficient manpower. Meanwhile, witnesses described seeing a "carnival atmosphere" on 12th Street. Police—inadequate in number and wrongly believing that the rioting would soon expire—just stood there and watched. Police did not make their first arrest until 7 a.m. To the east, on Chene Street, reports said the pillaging mob boasted a mixed composition. The pastor of Grace Episcopal Church along 12th Street reported that he saw a "gleefulness in throwing stuff and getting stuff out of buildings." The police conducted several sweeps along 12th Street, which proved ineffective because of the unexpectedly large numbers of people outside. The first major fire broke mid-afternoon in a grocery store at the corner of 12th Street and Atkinson. The mob prevented firefighters from extinguishing it and soon more smoke filled the skyline.

The local news media initially avoided reporting on the disturbance so as not to inspire copy-cat violence, but the rioting started to expand to other parts of the city, including looting of retail and grocery stores elsewhere. By Sunday afternoon, news had spread, and people attending events such as a Fox Theater Motown revue and Detroit Tigers baseball game were warned to avoid certain areas of the city. Motown's Martha Reeves was on stage at the Fox, singing "Jimmy Mack," and was assigned to ask people to leave quietly, as there was trouble outside. After the game, Tigers left fielder Willie Horton, a Detroit resident who had grown up not far from 12th Street, drove to the riot area and stood on a car in the middle of the crowd while still in his baseball uniform. Despite Horton's impassioned pleas, he could not calm the mob.
Using Google Street View, I tried to find the same address:

84 comments:

Jupiter said...

Looters For Justice!

rhhardin said...

You have your rape culture and your pillage culture but they don't seem to go together anymore.

Rob said...

Different Willie Horton.

Fabi said...

"...a doorman whose father was running the raided blind pig..."

A blind pig being the illegal drinking establishment?

Fabi said...

"Officer, please -- for God's sake -- they're looting the Food King!"

wild chicken said...

Joyce Carol Oates wrote about the riots in Them. She implied there were commie agitators there, waiting to capitalize on just such a situation.

Bet she wouldn't be so observant now.

Feste said...

“ ... and the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions of the United States Army ...”

Goddamn lucky Johnson gave ‘em chutes for that event.

Sons-a-bitches weren’t doing so well before ‘67. Allocation of resources, a real bitch in the Great Society.

Some survivors of that reality show still don't look pretty today.

FullMoon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
YoungHegelian said...

They expected a few revelers inside, but instead found a party of 82 blacks celebrating the return of two local GIs from the Vietnam War. The police decided to arrest everyone present.

While it's not exactly a license to riot, it's not like the police reaction to the events as they unfolded helped matters much.

There's an art & a science to "riot management" policing. Left unsaid in the Wikipedia article was what the mayor's input was on this whole developing situation. Did the mayor push a policy against the wishes of the police chief (almost always a bad sign)?

Feste said...

“ ... 82nd and 101st Airborne ...”

Johnson was one of those guys. Loved social science experiments. He didn’t really give a shit about the riots.

Just wanted an answer to the question – the question every man - wants to know. Craves to know.

Fuck Detroit.

“In a fight between the 82nd and 101st, who are the toughest sons-a-bitches left standing?”

Fernandinande said...

Detroit '67: The officer who led the raid on the blind pig that ignited the riot

"Everybody forgets that the Baptist ministers in Detroit had tremendous power, and the last thing they wanted was all these after-hours joints in the city," Fierimonte said, adding that it "was the black community that insisted we" shut down blind pigs.
+

There's a blind pig in Ft. Collins, and also a bar called the Blind Pig Pub.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

My mother grew up about a mile from the corner of 12th and Clairmount where the riots started. I am going to have to call fake news on the photo, while it does appear in Google Street View across from the well kept Gordon Park, it's apparent from the satellite view that that building has now been torn down.

I do wonder if that building had been left untouched since the riots until it was fairly recently torn down. And why not leave a historic reminder across the street? It does raise the question how long it's been since Google last drove through Detroit.

rcocean said...

The wonders of diversity.

Detroit 1950 1.7 million people - 83% white
Detroit 1990 1.0 million people - 22% white

OTOH, its worked out well for black people. Sure, the housing prices are low, but that means its *VERY* affordable and black people have all the city jobs. Of course, crime is a little high, but evidently black people have a high tolerance.

It reminds me of when I visited Downtown Memphis. I saw one great looking house and after another, and when I asked my friend who lived there, he said "blacks, all the whites have moved to the suburbs".

Seems like a win, win for everyone.

Otto said...

Worthless generation.

Chuck said...

Just a few weeks ago, in another Althouse blog-post, I predicted that this 50th anniversary would get a lot of media play (and we haven't even seen the premiere of "Detroit," which is coming on August 4).

But commenter rcocean wanted to challenge me on even that simple (no-brainer, really) notion:

rcocean said...
"We'll soon be seeing 50th anniversaries of a series of U.S. urban riots. Detroit and Newark in '67. Chicago, Baltimore, Washington D.C. and Cleveland-Glenville in 1968."

I doubt many people will care - and the MSM will give it limited coverage. Its not part of boomer nostalgia like the Freedom Rides, MLK, Bull Conner, Anti-Vietnam protests, Woodstock, etc.

And we've had a lot of riots in the last 50 years.

http://althouse.blogspot.com/2017/07/the-cars-insured-but-it-has-nostalgic.html?showComment=1499442252626#c1801344511892752263

Told ya!

Left Bank of the Charles said...

The supposed idea of a blind pig establishment, which predates prohibition, was that you paid admission to see an animal attraction - the aforementioned blind pig - and the alcohol was served free as a refreshment. Other sources say the name referred to bribing police officers to look the other way. It might be that both meanings applied.

In the family lore, one branch is said to have run a blind pig in Detroit in the 1910s. That branch also had several Detroit police officers.

Owen said...

Looting = liberty

Seven letters = freedom

Very sad = good bye

AllenS said...

I was in the 82nd Abn Div at Ft Bragg NC when this happened, and we were ready to go, then it all came to an end. The blacks in my unit were not very happy about us going there. You need to understand this, and this is important, the blacks were not going to be on the riot end of the program.

Fabi said...

Thank you, Left Bank!

Left Bank of the Charles said...

Let's remember also that this was the Summer of Love. The two stories are so often told separately, but they are the same story.

Known Unknown said...

"Detroit police officers raided the unlicensed weekend drinking club"

At least they didn't drop a bomb like Philly.

Steven said...

"Everybody forgets that the Baptist ministers in Detroit had tremendous power,"

I know you're quoting someone else, but -- they still do. Look at the zoning rules for strip clubs, or the very similar rules being promulgated for medical marijuana dispensaries. There's a reason that candidates for local office speak at every pulpit they can get in.

William said...

White flight is what is known as ethnic cleansing in other contexts......I have seen many articles about the ongoing debacle of Detroit. None of these articles point a finger at the inept and corrupt administration of Mayor Coleman Young, and that's why the debacle is ongoing....There should be public service announcements to teach blacks how to riot responsibly. While there are many valid reasons to loot liquor and sneaker stores, it is, in the end, self destructive to trash groceries and hair salons. Riot responsibly and not with rage.

buwaya puti said...

I suppose it would not be legal to run a "whites only" resettlement program, say akin to Roman coloniae, in order to repopulate this lost city?

Feste said...

AllenS,

“ ... was in the 82nd .. blacks in my unit were not very happy .. not going to be on the riot end .. “

Army stuff isn’t my bag baby. Rumor we heard in 3-3-3 (later in time) was Johnson issued you guys whiteface. Gotta feeling that you, AllenS, had in mind something deeper than superficial skin color. Just a feeling. Don’t know. None of my business.

DanTheMan said...

>>I am going to have to call fake news on the photo,

It's 9138, not 9125. Close, but no cigar...

J. Farmer said...

Seven years later, Detroit would elect its first black mayor, Coleman Young, who would preside over the city for 20 years as it fell into corruption, rampant crime, and disrepute. Read Ze'ev Chafets' Devil's Night: And Other True Tales of Detroit to learn all you need to know about what currently plague's Detroit.

J. Farmer said...

p.s. Paul Kersey, pseudonymous purveyor of the Stuff Black People Like blog, covers much the same material in his Escape from Detroit: The Collapse of America's Black Metropolis, though I imagine Kersey's frank language and blunt statements on race may turn some off.

Feste said...

NB - Alan, not that it matters ...

3-3-3, not the flyboys.
3d Bat, 3rd Reg., Recon.

Before/after restructure. Long ago. Far away.

“I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now.”

AllenS said...

Feste said...
3-3-3, not the flyboys.
3d Bat, 3rd Reg., Recon.


What does that even mean? 3d Bat, 3rd Reg., Recon of what? What flyboys?

Scott said...

I happen to be in Detroit today, staying in Southfield, looking at places I lived and hung out in while here from 1982-1988. Every place I lived in Detroit and Highland Park during that period is abandoned and looted. It got worse, not better.

The 1967 riots that started 50 years ago today started a chain reaction that killed the social ecosystem. Lots of little biota feed on its rotting corpse -- but it is a corpse. I see no evidence that it will spring to life again during the rest of my lifetime.

Feste said...

Story of Detroit, mean comments about blacks, pissing me off.

Need to chill.

Remembering MacArthur and Patton against vets protesting the “Adjusted Compensation Bill.” Need R&R.

David Begley said...

Wild chicken:

They were probably Russian communist agitators. Russia interfered with our riots.

AllenS said...

If you Google "19303 danbury st detroit mi", you'll see the house where I was born. Using Google take the side street (Penrose), and go one block and you'll see new houses going up. So, there is some rebuilding going on in Detroit. Still, a lot of empty lots and abandoned houses. I could give you two more addresses where we used to live, but there are no houses there anymore.

Feste said...

Allen, sorry.

Marines had flyboys VMFA-333.
Also had groundboys (cross-trained to jump) 3d Marine Division, 3d Reconnaissance Battalion. Sometimes called 333. Not same as Force Recon. You could get to Force from there - if you didn’t mind the training killing you. 333 restructured more times than Marines can count.

Not your fault you didn’t know. Nobody else knows anymore. Not supposed to ;). Silent.

Scott said...

Driving through the city where I resided, I saw lawn signs that said, "Coleman Young, Mayor".

Back from the dead? Actually his son is running. I don't know if it's a bad or good thing. It's probably an irrelevant thing. But hopefully he won't be as monstrously strange as his father was toward the end of his life.

Etienne said...

As far as I'm concerned, Michigan should have never been in the United states. The Canadian border should have gone straight west from Toledo to Chicago.

Michael said...

The longterm residents of this wasteland are now peeved that hipsters are moving in and improving portions of Detroit. Having sat around for 50 years waiting for something to happen it must be aggravating in the extreme to see enterprising whites reclaim whole blocks of devastation and buff them up.

Feste said...

Étienne

“As far as I'm concerned, Michigan should have never been in the United states. The Canadian border should have gone straight west from Toledo to Chicago.”

Figures.

Fuck Étienne Brûlé

rcocean said...

"Story of Detroit, mean comments about blacks, pissing me off."

Identify the "mean" comments, whitey McWhite bread.

Feste said...

Étienne, I mean, just a wee bit more incompetence in French-Indian War. Things could still change. You can always hope, pray ...

rcocean said...

"As far as I'm concerned, Michigan should have never been in the United states. The Canadian border should have gone straight west from Toledo to Chicago.”


IMO, New England should be kicked out of the USA and given to Canada.That would result some sort of sanity returning to US politics.

That was the South's big mistake. Instead of seceding from the Union, they should have joined with the Midwest and kicked out New England.

rcocean said...

Some Canadian once told me our greatest failure was not conquering Canada in 1812.

Can you imagine how fucked up the USA would've been with Quebec, and all the french Canadian crap? Or having to deal with a bunch of left-wing Canadians in the Atlantic provinces?

Failing to "conquer Canada" was our biggest triumph!

Feste said...

Étienne is just pissed off that DiCaprio didn’t cover this in, “The Revenant.” Étienne tends to get a little confused with his ghosts, in Michigan jumping state lines, down into “The Ghosts of Mississippi.” Étienne don’t lose heart, but loose heart [grant freedom], like Shakespeare says, “it’s all one.”

The ghosts will resurrect for you. Just for you. You saw what happened to Coyote: he met Jesus. Keep praying. Ghosts are on your side, pal. Like the ghosts at the end of, “The Hollow Crown.” All those dead [no spoiler] ...

AllenS said...

Jesus.

Ken B said...

Etienne,
We, Canada, held Detroit at the end of the war of 1812. Having won the war we proceeded to win the peace by returning it.

:)

Feste said...

AllenS said... "Jesus." See what Ken B said.

We, Americans, know how to kill you, Canadians, with kindness. Kind-ness.

sinz52 said...

The other, better known term for "blind pig" was "speakeasy."

Bob Ellison said...

"Blind pig".

That's a term <0.1% of Americans alive today would know.

Bob Ellison said...

Who here knows what that potted hippo means?

Henry said...

rcocean wrote: That was the South's big mistake. Instead of seceding from the Union, they should have joined with the Midwest and kicked out New England.

The Midwest was having none of that.

Steven said...

Back from the dead? Actually his son is running. I don't know if it's a bad or good thing. It's probably an irrelevant thing

That's his illegitimate son, born Joel Loving and raised in California, who later changed his name and moved to Detroit to undertake a political career.

Bad Lieutenant said...


Feste said...
Étienne

“As far as I'm concerned, Michigan should have never been in the United states. The Canadian border should have gone straight west from Toledo to Chicago.”

Figures.

Fuck Étienne Brûlé
7/23/17, 6:13 PM

Personally I have the knife out for Ohio. Fuck Ohio, man. 😆🤣🤡

Feste said...

Bad Lieutenant said. “Personally I have the knife out for Ohio. Fuck Ohio, man.”

When I was younger, my personal takeaway lesson from dealing with bad lieutenants was - never, ever, ever mess with them.

My wife was one. I woke up, opened my eyes, there in the hospital, first time I ever laid (whatever I had left to lay) eyes on her. She says, “heard all about you son. You’re taking orders from me now!” Some colonels can’t keep their mouths shut. The orders have never ended.

Now, Étienne.

Étienne's a good guy. At least he says he’s a guy. Laslo prolly knows more about that than I do. Kinda new. And innocent. Around hare. Have your way with Étienne. Just don’t kill him. Not until he crosses into Ohio. You’ll just have to suck up the bull shakes at Young’s Jersey Dairy (a Bull Shake is $5.95) until he wanders, lost, confused, ghost-like, into Ohio, which means he probably fits right in.

Keep watch.

James K said...

Different Willie Horton.

This Willie Horton was a real mensch. I grew up there and remember the story of him going out to the crowd in his uniform pleading for calm. Wonderful man.

CR said...

The riots accelerated Detroit's decline, which was already underway in the 60s, and with Detroit's decline went Michigan's. The rioters did far more damage than they could have imagined.

Khesanh 0802 said...

@Allen Sewell What Feste was trying to identify was the 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion of the 3rd Marine Division. The Regiment part makes me wonder, also, whether he has any idea what he is talking about. There is a 3rd Marine Regiment that is part of the 3rd Marine Division. It is composed of a headquarters / headquarters Company and three infantry battalions. 3rd Recon is a completely separate unit within the 3rd Division.

James K said...

I predicted that this 50th anniversary would get a lot of media play

So because AA has a blog piece (citing a Wikipedia article), that represents "a lot of media play"? I'm not seeing much outside of Detroit media and NPR.

Michael K said...

Los Angeles never recovered from the 1965 riots. Chicago thugs are learning to go out into white suburbs and riot and steal.

Progress. Plus, of course, iPhone flash mobs on north Michigan where the white people are.

Ron said...

James K --

Willie Horton is still a mensch. He and Al Kaline are very much apart of the Tigers Organization.

I miss Norm Cash. Fell of a pier drunk and drowned in 6 inches of water....

James K said...

Willie Horton is still a mensch.

Yes, shouldn't have used past tense. A gentleman. When he was 16 in high school, he famously hit a home run into the upper deck of Tiger Stadium in the City Championship.

Feste said...

Khesanh 0802 said...and so on.

Fair enough.

I wrote: “restructured more times than Marines can count.”

I think you’re talking about currently. Whatever you mean, it’s true, but misleading, that “3rd Recon is a completely separate unit within the 3rd Division.” Depending on when you enlisted, re-upped, moved from enlisted to officer standing, across time, the 3rd Recon Battalion downsized into regiments inside the 3rd Marine Division . Deactivated is better. Reactivated later.

For all you know, I could have been in the 9th regiment, or 4th. Okinawa is such a lovely place.

I wrote: “Restructured more times than Marines can count.”

Should have written, "restructured, deactivated, reactivated, relocated, reeducated."

And - replenished . Because there’s this little thing called death.

There was helluva - helluva - lot more fluidity on 4-man deep teams.

Things in real life are hardly like they are in the books. Or webs.

Terence, this is stupid stuff.

maskirovka77 said...

I listened to a bit of a radio program about this on CSPAN today. It seemed very biased...the two people being interviewed placed all of the blame on the police and the city government and none on the rioters (sorry, "rebels"). I could not believe my ears when they rationalized the looting of stores in the neighborhoods of the "rebels" as fighting against their economic domination.

This being said...I'm sure that the "rebels" had a lot of grievances that were legitimate and that the Detroit police treated black people badly too often. But like pancakes, complex stories almost always have two sides and the CSPAN program didn't come remotely close to depicting them

Feste said...

“I'm sure that the "rebels" had a lot of grievances that were legitimate ....”

Thanks for this sentiment. There’s a book I want to read: “Shakespeare and Violence.” Ghandi too had a way. Too complicated to second-guess every anger in its origin and expression. I read a UN report on “informal justice,” saying (forget the exact percentage) over 95% (this is too conservative) of all disputes are resolved outside of court, without attorneys, by working them out - in informal justice. Informal can mean screaming at each other. Or talking gently. Listening. Lots. Listening is a full time vocation.

Narayanan Subramanian said...

In the age of Trump - do the rioters represent the resistance v. The police *= you can guess. Will this be the coming narrative?

Narayanan Subramanian said...

And a Romney gets to play Trump.

Michael Fitzgerald said...

I think this was the riot described by Iceberg Slim in his book "Mama Black Widow".

Robert Cook said...

"I happen to be in Detroit today, staying in Southfield, looking at places I lived and hung out in while here from 1982-1988. Every place I lived in Detroit and Highland Park during that period is abandoned and looted. It got worse, not better."

I'm sure the shutting down of the auto factories had nothing to do with it. (They don't call it the rust belt for nothing!)

Robert Cook said...

"But like pancakes, complex stories almost always have two sides and the CSPAN program didn't come remotely close to depicting them."

A story with two sides is a simple story...good/bad, yes/no, off/on. Complex stories--as real life stories always are--have many sides to them, often intertwined or shading into each other.

AllenS said...

Mr. Cook, we still have automobile factories in this country. Now, if you had a business and the locals started to riot and burn all that mattered to people who need food, health care, entertainment, and most of all security to live and raise a family, would be keep your business there?

Roger Sweeny said...

I some times wonder how much the riots and a good deal of post-1967 black culture is a reaction against Martin Luther King. Seriously. To a large extent, King's strategy was to shame white people, "We're not only as good as you; we're better than you. We return good for evil. We turn the other cheek."

It got the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act passed but it set an impossible standard to live by. And to many it seems more than a little grovelling and sissy. So a reaction of violence and hyper-masculinity. In the words of 2 Live Crew's (violent, hyper-masculine, and extraordinarily popular) 1989 album "As Nasty as They Wanna Be."

Robert Cook said...

"Mr. Cook, we still have automobile factories in this country."

Not in Detroit.

"Now, if you had a business and the locals started to riot and burn all that mattered to people who need food, health care, entertainment, and most of all security to live and raise a family, would be keep your business there?"

The automakers did not leave Detroit because of the one-week Detroit riot.

Ann Althouse said...

To those who are questioning my Google Street View. If you go to the precise address, that's the only building around. There is ground next to it and across the street from it that does not have any building on it. So that is the place where things first happened on the street. The actual building with the "blind pig" isn't there anymore.

Gahrie said...

The automakers did not leave Detroit because of the one-week Detroit riot.

Absolutely correct.

They left because of the malign partnership of leftwing politics and labor unions.

Jupiter said...

"They left because of the malign partnership of leftwing politics and labor unions."

Oh, bilge. They left because the blacks finally figured out that the whites were no longer able or willing to use the level of violence against them which had previously prevented them from "doing their thing". The riots showed everyone that Detroit was unable to control black savagery. To the blacks, this was an incentive to more riots. To the whites, an incentive to white flight.

Robert Cook said...

"Oh, bilge. They left because the blacks finally figured out that the whites were no longer able or willing to use the level of violence against them which had previously prevented them from 'doing their thing.' The riots showed everyone that Detroit was unable to control black savagery. To the blacks, this was an incentive to more riots. To the whites, an incentive to white flight."

Talk about bilge!

Jupiter said...

"Talk about bilge!"

OK, Cookie. Have it your way. There were no more riots. There was no white flight.

Gamaliel said...

Living in Michigan, I've seen a lot of articles and programs about the Detroit riot. Most of them are from the viewpoints of SJWs, flavored with a heavy dash of BLM, thus portraying the rioters as rebels. That's why I turned off the CSPAN retrospectives after a few minutes. I was 16 when the riot erupted, and it was clear that it was a festival of thuggery. There were stories in the papers about some of the looters turning out to be guys with good paying jobs in the auto plants.

Speaking of looters, there were plenty of reports about whites joining the crowds that were cleaning out the stores. Thugs come in all colors.

JimMtnViewCa said...

I'd claim this is the iconic white musical bit on the riots.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CjWTgAV4zDk

Is there is a single stand-out piece of black music that you all have come across?

Gamaliel said...

No, Jim, the iconic white musical bit on the riots was Gordon Lightfoot's "Black Day in July." It was a sizable hit in Canada and the US (unlike the MC5 number), but it was banned by every Detroit radio station.

JimMtnViewCa said...

(Gamaliel)
We'll agree to disagree :)
Gordon Lightfoot is awesome, to be sure.

Captain Nerd said...

I was living in Detroit then, I was 9 years old, and the rioting and looting came within a few blocks of the apartment where we lived. I remember the curfew that kept us off the streets, but me and my Dad went to the front steps of our apartment, and I could see the flames reflected in the clouds from a few blocks away on Grand River near Trumbull.

Jeff H said...

Detroit is a complete and utter hell hole. It is that way primarily because the "good citizens" of the town have mindlessly voted Democrat since 1957. I hate to say "they got what they asked for", since they didn't get what they THOUGHT they were asking for, but when you vote Democrat, you get this. Those of us paying attention have known this for decades.

William said...

The riots turned the trickle of white flight to the suburbs into a torrent, leaving Detroit a majority black city that then elected the communist huckster Coleman Young. In order to cement his position as mayor for life, he actively pursued policies and rhetoric that furthered the divide between the black city and the white suburbs. This adversarial relationship has persisted for decades, leaving the city a burned out husk of its former self. An interesting exercise is to go to google street view and start a mile or so into Detroit on Jefferson Avenue and "drive" northeast into the Grosse Pointes. It is like magic occurs in the area of Alter Road.