July 23, 1967

It was 3:45 a.m. on July 23, 1967. America was fighting an unpopular war in Vietnam. The city of Detroit would soon resemble a war zone all its own.

On the corner of 12th and Clairmount, Detroit Police had been watching an illegal after-hours drinking club, known as a blind pig, where partiers were celebrating the return of two Vietnam War veterans. At 3:45 a.m., police raided the blind pig

When police entered the club, they found 82 African Americans partying inside. They waited for paddy wagons to show up to take the revelers to jail. 

The raid, though, was just the spark. Many in the community blamed frustrations blacks felt toward the mostly white police, and city policies that pushed families into aging and over-crowded neighborhoods.

As police waited, the crowd outside grew and began to protest the police action.

Several vandalized property, looted businesses, and started fires. Police increased their presence in Virginia Park, a predominantly black neighborhood, but the outrage would not be contained. It spread to other areas of the city and police lost control of the situation.

By the end of the week, 43 people were killed including one police officer, more than 1,000 were injured, and over hundreds of businesses were destroyed. More than 9,000 of the U.S. National Guard, 800 Michigan State Police Troopers, and the U.S. Army were all in the city to stop the violence.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report

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