The second largest riot in United States history (eclipsed only the Los Angeles riots of 1992), the 12th Street Riot was begun with a police raid on an illegal seller of alcohol in the early hours of Sunday, July 23 of 1967. When resistance was encountered by the police, the raid swiftly spiralled out of control.
By sunrise on the 23rd, the riot was well underway and looting had begun throughout the neighbourhood. By the time the riot was finally quelled on the 27th, it had grown to such a point that the army had been called in, and the peace was enforced with guns and tanks. The death toll was 43 people, with another 467 injured. Police made more than 7000 arrests, and more than two thousand buildings were sufficiently damaged that they were either destroyed outright or needed demolition.
The riot remains a subject of some dispute today, with allegations made on both sides as to the conduct of the other side. The fact that the majority of deaths, injuries and arrests that took place were those of negroes has often been cited as evidence of racism on the part of the Detroit police and the US Army. There is even some question of whether this was a riot, or a rebellion that was put down very early in its progress. Certainly the aftermath of the riot was not good for Detroit. Nearly 200,000 whites moved out of the city in the following two and a half years, afraid of another black uprising, taking with them money, jobs and businesses, and crippling Detroit for many years thereafter.
Det.riot ’67 – Moodymann
Detroit ’67 – Sam Roberts
Panic in Detroit – David Bowie
The Motor City Is Burning – MC5
Black Day in July – Gordon Lightfoot