50 Years Later, Photos Recall Riots of Detroit

The city erupted in the summer of 1967
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 16, 2017 9:45 AM CDT

(Newser) – Protests that started 50 years ago in a west side Detroit neighborhood would grow into a riot and later a conflagration that threatened to swallow entire city blocks. An angry crowd of African-Americans gathered near 12th and Clairmount streets in the early morning hours of July 23, 1967, after police raided an illegal after-hours club and made arrests. The crowd grew and a tense situation erupted in violence, gunshots, and flames. As smoke from dozens of fires rose cloud-like for five days above the Motor City, photographers from the AP snapped shots of the burning storefronts and homes. The images have stood for a half-century, etched into Detroit's fabric and history.

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  • Snippets of coverage: The AP reprints its live coverage from the time here.
  • Recollections of witnesses: "Our apartment was on the first floor and it faced the alley," recalls one witness. "The looters were all in the alley. Bang, bang, bang — there were guns going off." More recollections from the AP here.
  • Today: "There are signs of rebirth in Detroit, " per another story by the AP. "But the men and women who lived through the riots are getting older, and most doubt they will live to see Detroit reclaim its former glory, when its very name was synonymous with American know-how and industry."
(Read more Detroit stories.)

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