50 Years Later
The 1967 Detroit Riots occurred from July 23rd, 1967 to July 27th, 1967. According to Wikipedia there was an average of 231 incidents per hour. Property damage ranged from 40-45 million dollars which equates to over $300,000,000 today when adjusted for inflation. By riots end 43 people were dead, over 76% of the decedents were black. Most were killed by the guns of police. There were 7000 arrests, among them 26 suspected snipers. None of the 26 were successfully prosecuted.
Three of the youngest riot victims perished at The Algiers Motel. Police murdered them and fled the scene. The ages of the slain black teenagers were 17, 18 and 19. One police officer was tried for murder and found not guilty. A second officer confessed, it was deemed inadmissible and the policeman was not tried. 3 officers and a private security guard were brought to trial under federal conspiracy charges and were all acquitted.
Fast forward 50 years and I am left with the thought that we have regressed as much as we have progressed. During those years Shirley Chisholm ran for president. Angela Davis fought the law and won. Nixon declared a war on drugs as the black community was being flooded with street pharmaceuticals. Young black men and women disappeared from our communities via mass incarceration. Two wars went on simultaneously in Iraq and Afghanistan. And many of us thought our first black president Barack Obama was going to waive a magic wand to fix the Black American Condition.
If every American waits until their own civil liberties are under attack it will be too late. The photo for this post was taken at Detroit’s Eastern Market. This market does not run without black, white and immigrant cooperation. You can’t learn from history if you are not aware of the lesson. Many of us celebrated Fathers Day over the weekend. There were no barbecues for Philando Castile and Terence Crutcher and no justice. The officers who caused their deaths have been acquitted.