Most people over the age of 50 recall the Detroit riot during the hot summer of 1967. But Detroit made headlines with riots years before. Take a look below at the three major riots that took place in Detroit: 1967, 1943, and way back in 1863. These are only 'nutshell' pieces of information; for extensive details, I have included links for you to read more in-depth material.

The first major Detroit riot occurred on March 6, 1863 during the Civil War.

When President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, it didn’t set well with some northerners. They feared they would lose their jobs by being replaced by newly-arrived immigrants and former slaves, who escaped to freedom in Detroit.

Adding to the anger was the fabricated story that two girls spread about being raped by a man of color. (they later confessed they made it up and the man was released from prison after spending seven years behind bars).

Local fear led to panic and mob rioting; almost 40 buildings were trashed and devastated, while 200 people were left homeless.

Because of this riot, Detroit finally organized its first full-time police force.
Read the entire story about the 1863 riot here:
1863 RIOT

The second major Detroit riot took place from June 20 - June 22, 1943.

These circumstances parallel the reason of the 1863 riot: fear of losing jobs. This time, it was due to World War II. During the war, Detroit’s auto industry set its sights on the war effort, which led to extra work and more jobs. Word of these jobs spread, and soon 400,000 people arrived in Michigan looking for work; this included people of all races: black, white, brown, yellow…you name it.

Fear of job loss became mixed with housing shortages and the already tense-relations among the races. The rioting began in Belle Isle Park on June 20, instigated by juveniles, who led rioters to the city and fueled the fear by spreading lies about non-existent racial attacks.

Finally, on June 22, 6,000 troops were sent into Detroit. In the aftermath, two million dollars worth of property was damaged ($30 ½ million by today’s standards), 433 people were wounded, and 34 were killed.

There’s much more to this story that you can read about here:
1943 RIOT

The 1967 Detroit Riot took place during the "long, hot summer of 1967".

The event that kicked it off began on the morning of Sunday July 23, 1967. The police raided an unlicensed bar that continued operating well after regulated closing hours. Protests against the police turned to bloody rioting and soon it escalated, becoming known as one of the “deadliest, most destructive” riots in the history of the United States.

It seemed to last forever, but was a full five-day riot. News media milked it for all it was worth with live on-the-spot reports, magazine covers, newspaper headlines, etc. If the media hadn't whored the whole event out, it might not have lasted as long.

Michigan governor George Romney sent in the National Guard while president Lyndon Johnson acquired the services of the U.S. Army's 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions.

Total tally: 43 people were dead, 1,189 people injured, 2,000 buildings burned & destroyed, and almost 7,300 arrests.

These are just brief pieces of information on this event and you can find more detail here:
1967 RIOT

DETROIT: 1863, 1943, 1967


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