Today in History | July 23 | Detroit Riot of 1967

July 23rd 

The Detroit riot of 1967 started between African Americans and the Detroit Police Department.  The riot started on July 23, 1967 and lasted five days. It is marked as the turning point for the black power movement.

What Happened?

The riot started when police raided an illegal drinking club and arrested hundreds, the majority being African Americans. Bystanders watching the scene began to protest, leading the police to barricade surrounding neighborhoods. Tensions escalated further when residents began to loot and burn buildings. 

The Climax

The U.S Army and National Guard were deployed by Gov. Romney and President Lyndon B. Johnson in the midst of the riot. In addition to the Detroit Police Department, nearly 7,000 members of the National Guard sought to get the city under control. At that time, only 50 Detroit police officers were African American.

The increased presence of law enforcement only escalated conditions and antagonized African Americans who already viewed the police department as unjust. Years of alleged racial profiling and police brutality eroded the relationship and trust between African Americans in Detroit and the Detroit Police Department. 

The Outcome

The Detroit riot goes down in history as one of the deadliest riots in American history. 43 people died, 33 people being African Americans and 342 people were injured. More than 7,000 people were arrested and over 1,000 buildings were left torched. 

The Cause

Unemployment, poverty, racial profiling and police brutality are deeper causes of the riot. Many believe the riots escalated in such a way because of African Americans’ frustration with the “white flight” effect. 

White Flight

White flight is a term to describe what occurred during the 1960’s to 1970’s across many cities, when white people closed their businesses and moved out of the city into rural suburbs due to black people moving into their neighborhood. As a result cities took substantial losses in terms of status, income and property. 

The ‘White Flight” Impact

‘White flight’ affected cities like Detroit, leaving African Americans with few economic and housing opportunities. With poverty level wages and housing discrimination black people were forced to move into neighborhoods in the city that many deemed to be inferior.

Detroit Riot of 1967

The Detroit riot of 1967 was largely a result of African Americans frustration with poverty, discrimination, racial profiling and racism. 


Detroit Riot of 1967: Britannica

1967 Detroit Riots: History

White Flight: Definition, History & Effects: Study

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