12th Street Riot

The 12th Street Riot occurred in the early morning hours of July 23, 1967, after vice squad officers executed a raid at an illegal after-hours bar (known as a blind pig) on the corner of Twelfth Street and Clairmount Avenue in Detroit, Michigan. This developed into one of the most deadly and destructive riots in U.S. history. These Tac Squads, made up of four police officers (predominately white), had a reputation among the black population of Detroit for harassment and brutality.

The officers had expected to find a handful of people in the bar, but instead found 82 people celebrating the return of two local veterans from the war in Vietnam. Despite the large number, police decided to arrest everyone. A crowd gathered around the establishment, protesting as patrons were lead away. After the last police car left, a group of angry men who had observed the incident began breaking the windows of the adjacent clothing store. Shortly thereafter, rioting began.

8,000 National Guardsmenmen were called in after 48 hours to quell the riots, but their presence fueled more violence. Willie Horton - Detroit resident, and popular Detroit Tigers baseball player - arrived after a ball game, and stood on a car in the middle of the crowd wearing his baseball uniform but could not calm the crowd, despite his impassioned pleas. President Lyndon B. Johnson sent in federal troops from the 82nd Airborne.

Over the period of five days, 43 people died, an additional 1189 were injured, 7000 were arrested, and more than 1400 buildings were burned. The riot caused an estimated $22 million in damages. Beyond the immediate destruction of a considerable section of the city, the riot accelerated white flight to the suburbs and led to an increased fear of the city among suburbanites that lasted decades.

See also Algiers Motel Incident.

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