DETROIT (WWJ) - Saturday, July 23 marks the 44th anniversary of the 1967 riots in Detroit. The disturbance started with a police raid of a “Blind Pig,” an after hours bar on 12th Street and Clairmount, on the city’s westside. The rebellion left 43 people dead and hundreds injured.
U.S. Representative Hansen Clark of Detroit was 10-years-old then and he can still remember the day as if it just happened.
“It was a spectacular scene that I saw. I saw people smashing plate-glass windows into cleaners and taking all the clothes out. I saw all the buildings spray painted with ‘Soul Brother.’ At lease those that were spray painted weren’t on fire at all,” Clark said.
The Michigan National Guard and the army were called in to the city to help end the rioting. Over 400 people were injured and more than 7,000 people were arrested.
“It’s been heartbreaking because, that rebellion or riot, however you want to characterize it, marked the beginning of the end of my neighborhood. And as a child, you know I always knew, I always expected those buildings that were burnt out that they were going to re-open one day. As an adult, I decided to run for office so I could make that happen,” Clark said.
The riots ended after five days, leaving more than 2,000 buildings in Detroit destroyed.
So how far has society come since those racially charged days that led to the 1967 uprising in Detroit? Mike Whitty, adjunct professor at University of Detroit Mercy, gave us his take.
“There’s more integration of the suburbs, housing wise, there is more interracial marriage, there is a black President and we’re not making so much of race as we used to. So, in relative terms, in my lifetime, we have made progress,” he said.