Black or white - all businesses targeted by Detroit rioters in 67

In 1967, about 1,700 businesses were targeted by rioters and looters. It didn't matter if it was black or white business owners.

In an attempt to prevent looters from destroying their businesses, black shop owners would put signs in their windows that read 'Soul Brother'. The hope was that the rioters would see the signs and spare their business from being looted or torched.

As a TV 2 reporter learned, that didn't work.
"Well, with any group, any mob, you're going to find people who.. they don't care about race, they don't care about color, they don't care about religion, anything. They just want to get something for nothing," the black business owner said.

Rep. John Conyers was just three years into his first term in office at the time. He said that the idea that it was all black Detroiters was incorrect.

"I hope that the impression that the whole negro community is not involved in this gets through. Actually, it's a small percentage of people," Conyers said. "The overwhelming majority of the negro community is stunned, shocked and dismayed by the lawlessness of a very small percentage of people and youngsters that have brought this holocaust upon this city."

In fact, a witness said it was the opposite of black Detroiters - he saw white kids he had never seen before set a business on fire.

"It was three young white boys who set it. They don't live around here. they don't live in this neighborhood at all," he said he couldn't make any sense of what was happening. "No, none at all, because the people are taking everything out of the stores, there's nothing left. Now why should they set the places on fire after everything's all gone out of the places. This is senseless."

He didn't end there. He said that he couldn't see any racial overtones in what was happening.

"I can see just as many white as I can see colored taking things out of the stores."
Olivia Gaines lived through the riots and still lives in the Virginia Park neighborhood. She said that she saw black and white rioters for that week but was she angry?

"I would have had to be mad at everyone. it was everybody the rioters - I mean black, white, everybody, ya know?" she said.

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