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.