Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

The Detroit Riot, 50 Years Later ^ | July 21, 2017 | Michael Barone

Posted on 07/21/2017 4:55:49 AM PDT by Kaslin

Fifty years ago this weekend, a deadly urban riot began in Detroit. It started around 3:30 a.m., when police arrested 85 patrons of a blind pig -- an illegal after-hours bar -- in the midst of an all-black neighborhood that had been all-white 15 or 20 years before.

The statistics are horrifying. Rioting went on for six nights, with some 2,500 stores looted and burnt, some 400 families displaced and property damage was estimated around $300 million in 2017 dollars. Forty-three people, many of them innocent bystanders, were killed. More than 1,000 people were wounded.

The reality was even more horrifying. That summer, I had wangled a job as an intern in the office of Detroit Mayor Jerome Cavanagh, a young, bright and ambitious liberal. Elected with near-unanimous support of black voters, he had aggressively launched anti-poverty programs, trying to make the nation's fifth largest municipality a model of the Great Society's War on Poverty.

He had not succeeded, however, in changing the modus operandi of a police department that was only 5 percent black in a city with a 38 percent black population. In retrospect, this was a tragic consequence of the migration of one-third of American blacks between 1940 and 1965 from the mostly rural South to the big cities of the North.

That meant that Detroit, which had about 150,000 black residents before World War II, had about 600,000 a generation later. At a time when almost no whites would remain in neighborhoods with a significant black population, and when there were significant differences in the mores and culture of blacks and whites, this was inevitably going to be problematic.

Notwithstanding Cavanagh's liberal policies, and those of Michigan's Republican Governor George Romney, the riot should not have been the surprise it was. If it was more destructive than the riots in so many other cities, well, Detroit was bigger than just about all those other cities and had had a larger influx of Southern blacks than all but Chicago and New York.

I arrived at the City County Building on the warm morning of Sunday, July 23, and spent the next six nights at work. Unfortunately, I made no notes at the time and so my vivid memories may not be entirely accurate. But they show how fragile the web of civilization can be, just as what happened to Detroit over the next decades show how difficult they are to repair after they're torn to shreds.

I remember listening after sundown in the police commissioner's office to the police radio, as one officer after another reported abandoning another neighborhood -- whole square miles -- to the rioters. I remember the mayor, concerned about the trigger-happy performance of National Guard troops, trying to persuade the governor to demand federal troops from a reluctant President Lyndon Johnson and Attorney General Ramsey Clark.

I remember riding around in a (nonpolice) car with Congressman John Conyers, then in his second term and now the senior member of Congress, as he told young black men to cool it and stop the violence.

After several days, the experienced (and not all-white) 101st Airborne came in and calmed the city down. Johnson summoned the Kerner Commission, which blamed the Detroit riot on white racism and called for massive federal spending to somehow overcome it.

What followed was the cycle of vastly increased violent crime and welfare dependency that nearly tripled in the 1965-75 decade and was not reversed until the 1990s. White flight reduced Detroit's population from 1,670,144 in 1960 to 1,027,974 in 1990; black flight reduced it from that to 713,777 in 2010.

It has become the fashion to call the Detroit riot a "rebellion," though it was not premeditated and had no explicit policy goals. It was the product of expectations combined with a certain understandable discontent. People throw bottles, break windows, loot stores and set fires when they think that enough other people will be doing the same as to make them immune from punishment.

Riots in American cities proliferated from Los Angeles's Watts in 1964 to the multiple riots following the murder of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968. They have been rare in the 49 years since; the 1992 Los Angeles riot ended after 18 hours and the dispatch of 25,000 federal troops -- more than double the number in Detroit.

Lessons learned these last 50 years: Riots hurt, not help, people like the rioters. Riots can be stopped, and prevented, by authorities willing to deploy overwhelming force.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial
KEYWORDS: 101stairborne; blackflight; conyers; crimerates; detroit; georgeromney; kernercommission; lbj; mobrule; ramseyclark; riots; romney; violence; whiteflight
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-2021-4041-55 next last

1 posted on 07/21/2017 4:55:49 AM PDT by Kaslin
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Kaslin
In the 50's and into the 60's Detroit was one of the most prosperous cities on earth.

And then came Rat Party rule.

2 posted on 07/21/2017 5:00:08 AM PDT by Gay State Conservative (Comey = The Swamp Fighting Back)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

In August 2017, the cities will burn themselves again.

3 posted on 07/21/2017 5:03:12 AM PDT by bert (K.E.; N.P.; GOPc;WASP .... The Fourth Estate is the Fifth Column)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

Lesson learned?

Liberal/progressive policies destroy families, neighborhoods and cities.

2banana’s Law:

Long term democrat rule + public unions + free sh*t army = misery, ruin and bankruptcy

4 posted on 07/21/2017 5:05:50 AM PDT by 2banana (My common ground with terrorists - they want to die for islam and we want to kill them)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin
At a time when almost no whites would remain in neighborhoods with a significant black population, and when there were significant differences in the mores and culture of blacks and whites, this was inevitably going to be problematic.

Hogwash. I grew up at this time in several mixed neighborhoods - Detroit, Lincoln Park - and everyone got along fine.

It was southern Illinois, later in life, that taught me how hateful and racist blacks could be.

5 posted on 07/21/2017 5:08:49 AM PDT by MarMema
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

Past as prelude...

6 posted on 07/21/2017 5:08:58 AM PDT by heterosupremacist (Domine Iesu Christe, Filius Dei, miserere me peccatorem!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: MarMema

Care to elaborate? I have never heard about “southern Illinois”.

7 posted on 07/21/2017 5:16:32 AM PDT by BilLies (Judge Excoriates Two Hearst Executives
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

I was about four years old. I remember riding in my mom’s car on the freeway and seeing an armored personnel carrier drive by.

I knew there were riots but probably had no idea what that meant.

My dad worked in the riot zone and didn’t go to work that day.

8 posted on 07/21/2017 5:16:57 AM PDT by cyclotic (Trump tweets are the only news source you can trust.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin; newgeezer
and when there were significant differences in the mores and culture of blacks and whites,

Remember good ole double speak. What a nice way to try to say something but not say it.

9 posted on 07/21/2017 5:17:48 AM PDT by DungeonMaster (How many ways do liberals hate the bible?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Gay State Conservative

Part of my dad’s side of the family sold their house and got out.
They were a lucky few.

10 posted on 07/21/2017 5:30:26 AM PDT by Eric in the Ozarks (Baseball players, gangsters and musicians are remembered. But journalists are forgotten.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

The Newark,NJ riots are 50 years old as well.

Newark still hasn’t recovered.

11 posted on 07/21/2017 5:33:30 AM PDT by exit82 (The opposition has already been Trumped!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

This event was the tipping point.

Detroit never recovered from the riots.

As poster 2 said - Detroit was a prosperous city.

After the riots it became a 150 square mile ghetto into which the state and federal government threw away a couple billion dollars.

And it is still going on.

12 posted on 07/21/2017 5:38:31 AM PDT by Vlad The Inhaler (We were Trumpin' before Trumpin' was cool.....)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: BilLies

I went to high school in a town bordering East St Louis.
My childhood impressions were that in Detroit the blacks hated the government/cops. In southern Illinois they hated anyone not black.

13 posted on 07/21/2017 5:41:05 AM PDT by MarMema
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: Eric in the Ozarks

Our family escaped when I was 14 years old in 1968. The loss in human and physical capital is enormous. By my mid-20s, I had figured out that Leftists build nothing; they can only destroy. It is their nature. They can’t help it. That fact is writ large across our nation today and illustrated by Obamacare.

14 posted on 07/21/2017 5:41:23 AM PDT by Jacquerie (
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: cyclotic

I was nine that year and very disappointed our Little League trip to watch a game at Tiger Stadium was cancelled, especially since that was the year the Tigers won the pennant and World Series...Al Kaline, Jim Northrup, Norm Cash, Willy Horton, Mickey Lolich, Mickey Stanley, Earl Wilson, Dick Mcauliffe, Bill Freehan, Gates Brown...what a team!

15 posted on 07/21/2017 5:43:35 AM PDT by skepsel (Apres moi, le deluge.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin
Black Power A Done Deal

Scurrilous Commentary by Fred Reed

October 30, 2014

"It is curious that blacks, the least educated thirteen percent of the population, the least productive,
most criminal, and most dependent on governmental charity, should dominate national politics."

"Yet they do."

"Virtually everything revolves around what blacks want, demand, do, or can't do. Their power seems without limit."

"Courses of instruction in the schools, academic rigor, codes of dress, rules regarding unceasing obscenity, all must be set
to suit them, as must be examinations for promotion in fire departments, the military, and police forces.

Blacks must be admitted to universities for which they are not remotely qualified,
where departments of Black Studies must be established to please them.
Corporate work forces, federal departments, and elite high-schools must be judged not on whether they perform their functions
but on whether they have the right number of blacks."

"Do laws requiring identification to vote threaten to end multiple voting?
The laws must go.
Do blacks not like Confederate flags?
Adieu, flags.
Does Huckleberry Finn go down the Mississippi with the Nigger Jim, or Conrad write The Nigger of the Narcissus?
These must be banned or expurgated to please blacks who haven’t read them or, usually, heard of them.
Do we want to prevent people coming from regions infested with Ebola from entering the United States?
We cannot.
It would offend blacks."

"We must never, ever say or do anything that might upset them, as virtually everything does.
It is positively astonishing.
One expects the rich and smart to have disproportionate power. But America is dominated from the slums."

One might think that a single set of laws should apply to all citizens, and that things should be done without regard to race, creed, color, sex, or national origin, and that all should have the same rights and responsibilities. It is not so.

The dominance of the media by blacks is impressive. If a white shoots a black to defend himself, it becomes national news for weeks, or months, and riots follow, but when blacks engage in their unending racial attacks on whites, the media demurely look the other way. The attackers are never black. They are “teens.” Reporters who say otherwise are likely to be fired. In effect, the thirteen percent censor the national press.

Much of their mastery has become so deeply engrained as no longer to be noticed. There is the DC Bob. In the bars and restaurants of Washington, a man weary of an incompetent affirmative-action hire in his office will, before commenting to a friend, lean forward, lower his voice, and look furtively over both shoulders to see whether anyone might overhear: The DC Bob. People don’t even know that they are doing this.

Defensive behavior by whites has become nearly universal. A sort of Masonic recognition-ritual occurs among white people recently introduced in social gatherings. Is the other person, for want of better terms, a liberal or a realist? Dare one speak? One of them will say something mildly skeptical about, say, Jesse Jackson. The other rolls his eyes in shared disgust. The secret handshake. Or, if the listener is politically correct, the bait is not taken. In either case, blacks dominate political conversation.


16 posted on 07/21/2017 5:43:56 AM PDT by Vlad The Inhaler (We were Trumpin' before Trumpin' was cool.....)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Vlad The Inhaler
And it is still going on.

What is still going on?

17 posted on 07/21/2017 5:45:48 AM PDT by MarMema
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: Jacquerie
detroit mansion scarred from 1967 riots sells for $230,000 50 years later
18 posted on 07/21/2017 5:52:06 AM PDT by MarMema
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: MarMema

East St Louie? Wow.

A buddy of mine said he felt safer in Iraq/

19 posted on 07/21/2017 5:58:35 AM PDT by redgolum
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin
Interestingly, there's a very likely chance once-liberal cities may not be so liberal anymore.

Detroit has finally admitted the mess left by Coleman Young and Kwame Kilpatrick and finally taking steps to transform itself to a city based on cross-border trade with Canada, especially with the start of construction of the Gordie Howe International Bridge. And New York City may not re-elect Bill de Blasio, especially since he's partially responsible for the collapse of the New York City subway system, a means of transport used by many New Yorkers.

20 posted on 07/21/2017 6:00:07 AM PDT by RayChuang88 (FairTax: America's Economic Cure)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-2021-4041-55 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson