12th Street at Clairmount, the epicenter of 5 days of rioting in the City of Detroit.

Today 12th Street is renamed simply “Rosa Parks”

Today nothing remains of the print shop where the disturbance began. Police came to break up an after hours party and began to arrest everyone in attendance. A crowd formed and surrounded the police cruisers. In the summer of 1967 during July, most of the DPD were on summer vacation. At this moment the powder keg sparked.

A park now sits in silent witness to an event that is burned into the collective consciousness of several generations of Detroiters. A sculpture commemorates the dark days of 40 years ago.

The rioting shot up 12th Street, and also east over to the Woodward Avenue corridor, where it went straight downtown. While the worst fighting and shooting was on the near west side close to Downtown, the riot also traveled east – flaring up at Mack Avenue and Van Dyke. It also traveled east on Jefferson past Belle Isle.


Let me tell you how it started now …
It started on 12th & Clairmount that morning.
It made the big cops all jump & shout,
I said, it started on 12th & Clairmount that morning,
It made the pigs in the street go freak out.
The fire wagons kept coming,
But the Black Panther snipers
Wouldn’t let them put it out,
Well, there were fire bombs bursting all around, people,
Ya know there were soldiers standing everywhere.
I said there was fire bombs bursting all around me, baby,
Ya know there was National Guard everywhere.
I can hear my people screaming
Sirens fill the air, fill the air, fill the air…….

-“Motor City Is Burning” MC5 version, originally recorded by John Lee Hooker at United Sound Systems.

2 Responses to 1967 Detroit Riot

  • I remember coming over the Bridge from Windsor on Sunday of the riots and seeing all the smoke from buildings on fire. On the way home to Lincoln Park we heard popping of gunfire. I worked at the Green Street Produce Terminal at the time and didn’t go to work until Wed. I heard shots then also. It was a scary time. My mother worked at Sears on Grand River and Oakman, on Monday they were opened and people came in and stole furs and other things until they closed the store.
    My sister and I drove down Grand River Tue evening to see what was going on there were a lot of National Guard folks around, many buildings burned out the closer to Downtown we got. It was a scary time and really sad. Nothing was ever the same in Detroit. Sad

  • i try to explain to outside people why detroit is the way it is…sometimes they seem to understand, others, not quite.

    my fascination with and knowledge of the riot used to be purely academic, gleaned only from books, etc, until this morning. i listened to Detroit Today on WDET and heard a recording taken from a reporter who was on duty when the Army rolled into town with their tanks.

    he was “taking shelter in the shadow of the old GM Blg,” and you can hear the tank rumble past as he is jogging for cover…he says, “the popping sounds you can likely hear are the shots fired by snipers,” and i’m thinking, “jesus christ how many times have i driven or walked down that exact street?”

    next thing you hear is the deafening BOOMBOOMBOOMBOOMBOOMBOOMBOOM of the Army opening up a barrage with their .50 caliber machinegun…for like a full minute. it sounded like any warzone youve ever seen on CNN. shit gave me chills.