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Thread: 1967 Remembered

  1. #76

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    Quote Originally Posted by Meddle View Post
    Tell me this isn't a tank:

    Attachment 33760

    Source is here as one of the scrolling gallery about the 4th or 5th picture: http://detroit.cbslocal.com/photo-ga...st-in-detroit/

    And what's in this picture?

    http://www.joelsolkoff.com/tag/detroit-riots-of-1967/
    M48A2 medium tank (and not from the 101st Airborne).

  2. #77

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    It is an interesting coincidence how the days of the week are aligned with those of 50 years ago, the first day of the uprising beginning with the early Sunday morning July 23 blind pig raid at 12th and Clairmont and going on to build throughout the day.

  3. #78

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    There is a very interesting interview with the Police Officer who led the raid on freep.com and whose stories include having a spear thrown at him. He later rose to Number 3 in the Department. He comes off as a very noble and circumspect public servant.

    Five years before the riot, he'd walked his beat in the same neighborhood where it began.

    "I had no problems," he said. "It was just a wonderful thing."

    He donated his collection of scrapbooks, badges, photographs and more to the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.

    "I thought I'd like the black community to see what it was like to be a policeman," he said.

    Fierimonte said he had gone to high school at Pershing High School, which had a student population that was about half black and half white, and he didn't understand why integration in the police department was a problem — but other white people fought it.

    Federal classes on civil rights helped "break the ice," he said.
    http://www.freep.com/story/news/loca...iot/487326001/

  4. #79

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    I think, for people who may not have been old enough to remember 1967, it's best to sit and listen, maybe absorbing lessons about how to prevent our city from tearing apart again. The last 10 years have built something that hasn't been around in a long time. How do we expand upon it? How do we preserve it? Those are the questions I have.

    Who was to blame 50 years ago? That's painful for some, and not relevant to me. Our job is to clean up what is left of the mess. So let's get on with it, then. In a period of backward-looking reflection, my suggestion is to instead turn and look forward. But that's just me.

  5. #80

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hermod View Post
    M48A2 medium tank (and not from the 101st Airborne).
    Didn't say the tanks were from the 101st. Just said my dad was based with 101st.

  6. #81

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    Everything I've read indicated the armor was attached to the 82nd.

  7. #82
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lowell View Post
    There is a very interesting interview with the Police Officer who led the raid on freep.com and whose stories include having a spear thrown at him. He later rose to Number 3 in the Department. He comes off as a very noble and circumspect public servant.



    http://www.freep.com/story/news/loca...iot/487326001/
    I posted this a few days ago but here it is again. Video interview with the same guy:

    https://youtu.be/iTTGZjZmPYg

  8. #83

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    Anthony Fiermonti at that time was just a police officer part of a crew led by Sergeant Arthur Howison that made the raid. His claims that he "led" the raid are a somewhat exaggeration.

  9. #84

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    Day 2: The following is my account of the 1967 Detroit Riot, as excerpted from a diary I kept and I am now posting, in advance of each day, 50 years later.

    Monday July 24, 1967
    “Today was an odd day, reminiscent of the days after the Kennedy assassination for its quietness caused by the closed stores yet, different from those 1963 days due to the presence of troops in the city.”

    “The day after has left my neighborhood relatively untouched. Only two stores – a corner (Cass and Warren) store, the Fountain Bookstore, and a corner (Woodward and Warren) wig shop had been looted. The wig shop had, ineffectively, “Soul Brother” written all over it in an attempt to keep Negro [yes, that was the polite usage in 1967] looters from looting it by indicating it is owned by a Negro. The death toll has climbed to 13 due mainly to sniper fire.”

    I had been scheduled to return to work at the Ford Dearborn Engine Plant that day which happened to be a day after a two week change-over layoff, but work was cancelled due to the uprising and resulting absenteeism. I noted that, “A boring and lazy day followed.”

    “In the evening I wandered about, for exercise, before the 9:00 PM curfew. National Guard troopers were present in sizable numbers and troop transports rumbled down the streets with machine guns mounted on their tops and heavily armed green-uniformed guardsmen in the rear.”

    The National Guardsmen were a disheveled-looking lot. One was assigned to each intersection in my neighborhood. I spoke with a short skinny kid with helmet askew wearing an ill-fitting over-sized uniform. He had been assigned to the corner of Cass and Warren. As to be expected he was nervous. I left him there whipping his head about like a bird watching for danger, rifle in hands, having in one sudden day having been flung from his quiet small town to being all alone for the night in big bad Detroit. Being from small towns myself I could feel for him and, recalling my ignorance of Detroit in those days, I could sympathize with him.

    “As night fell reports of continued fires, looting and sniping grew. All through the night the smell of smoke and the screams of sirens were with me.”

    It was stifling hot weather and in that age where air-conditioning was a luxury of the few, windows had to remain open. The background gunfire sounded like rapidly popping popcorn overlaid by machine gun bursts and punctuated by occasional loud cracks from nearby gunfire.

    “Radio reports told of outbreaks expanding to eastside neighborhood while those on westside continued to grow. Stories of gun battles between police and snipers were frequently reported. Firemen fighting fires became targeted.

    "At midnight President Johnson announced that 4700 federal paratroopers were being committed to the battle torn areas of Detroit.”
    Read Day 1

  10. #85

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    Does anyone remember the "riot" at Pennsylvania and Kercheval in 1966?

    Was there ever a connection made between the 1966 incident and 1967?

  11. #86

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    Ray...Do you know who these "Big Four" guys were? Not asking to reveal names but just want to know more about them. Who enlisted these guys, were they the same four guys or a "rotating" group of them, etc.

  12. #87

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maof View Post
    Ray...Do you know who these "Big Four" guys were? Not asking to reveal names but just want to know more about them. Who enlisted these guys, were they the same four guys or a "rotating" group of them, etc.
    Um....I've lost the thread somehow, Maof......are you referring to the cruiser crews that each precinct had and were known as the big four because they were always four to a car, three of them in plain clothes and the driver in uniform???

  13. #88

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    Quote Originally Posted by GPCharles View Post
    Does anyone remember the "riot" at Pennsylvania and Kercheval in 1966?

    Was there ever a connection made between the 1966 incident and 1967?
    Yeah, I was there for that party, too, GPC. The tensions that exploded in '67 were also there on Kerchival in '66 with one major exception.....the weather. It was August, and right after the first 'skirmish' began, it started to rain. We got three straight days of cold rain, and it was miserable. Thus, it never got out of hand. Contrast to 1967 when it was hot and sticky for the entire week, and.......well, I'm really trying to forget it all, anyway.

  14. #89

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ray1936 View Post
    ...the weather...... 1967 when it was hot and sticky for the entire week, and........
    Glad someone brought this up. I recall reading/hearing some weeks/months later, as the riot was being micro-analyzed by everyone, that became known as the "93 degrees" theory of human behavior.
    Idea was - at temperatures above that - people were just too listless, bodies so affected by the heat, to become aggressive, or moved to action.
    At temps below 93, even if they became irritated at something, it was not quite hot enough to bring on violent behaviors. Just not quite hot enough to become that hot under the collar. But, at exactly 93 degrees, that was the magic number.
    Some psychologists (Maybe at Wayne State?) and other scientific types became quite fixated on this. Wasn't there some communication with the weather bureau around all this? To document that the heat wave that Sunday was such that the nighttime temp around 12th & Euclid was, indeed, right at 93 in the wee hours of that morning.
    Anyone have anything further on this?

  15. #90

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ray1936 View Post
    Um....I've lost the thread somehow, Maof......are you referring to the cruiser crews that each precinct had and were known as the big four because they were always four to a car, three of them in plain clothes and the driver in uniform???
    yes. i was a wee little one during that time and i'm just hearing of them as of late .

  16. #91

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    In general the Cruisers were fairly adept at quieting things down quickly. They had a reputation and when they showed up somewhere, people took note. Each precinct had one and were ID'd on the radio simply as the precinct number followed by Cruiser such as 16-Cruiser, 10-Cruiser, etc.

  17. #92

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    Quote Originally Posted by Meddle View Post
    In general the Cruisers were fairly adept at quieting things down quickly. They had a reputation and when they showed up somewhere, people took note. Each precinct had one and were ID'd on the radio simply as the precinct number followed by Cruiser such as 16-Cruiser, 10-Cruiser, etc.

    Absolutely correct, Meddle. Lots of folks thought the three in plain clothes were detectives, but in fact all four were patrolmen (or police officers, in today's parlance). Two crews a day; one working 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., the other working 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. Seniority job; you had to have some time on the job to be assigned, although a young 'un might be assigned for a day or two if one of the old timers called in sick.

    Crew was armed with 12 guage shotguns, a Thompson machine gun (which, frankly, was for psychological purposes rather than use), and a tear gas gun with shells and an assortment of CS and CN grenades.

  18. #93

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    Getting off the track of '67, but I remember a Cruiser being ambushed at a traffic stop, seems like Outer Drive and Livernois. I just can't remember the details.

  19. #94

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    Day 3: The following is my account of the 1967 Detroit Riot, as excerpted from a diary I kept and I am now posting, in advance of each day, 50 years later.

    Tuesday July 25, 1967
    By Tuesday morning the city was clearly in shock as the extent of the damage and violence became known. Detroit was under the media magnifying glass of the nation and world. Television images revealed alarmingly large stretches of commercial avenues burned out.


    “I rose at 10 AM this morning. I went out to get some groceries, but all my usual stores were still closed and, only after much walking, did I finally find one small store that was open. However it had no milk or bread. In the papers I read the death toll had climbed to 23 much of it due to sniper fire last night.”

    I had been on a change-over layoff for the previous two weeks and was supposed to return to work on Monday. Work was cancelled on Monday due to high absenteeism seen in the early shift and we were instructed come in Tuesday.

    This now proved challenging. My Nash Rambler has died on me a couple of weeks previous and I had been using the buses to get to and from work. My usual Warren Crosstown bus was shut down due to riot activity and I had to use a different route.

    “I went to work going down Woodward to Cadillac Square where I caught a Vernor highway bus to the Rouge area. The slummy pawn shop area of Woodward had been badly burned out. Incidentally, it is now common knowledge that the riot in Detroit is the costliest ever in the nation's history. As I retire tonight the statistics are: damage $200 million, deaths 26 confirmed, injured 1000+, arrests 2600+ and fires nearly 1000!

    “Work lasted only until 8 PM due to the curfew. After waiting 20 minutes for the Oakland bus, that never came, I walked over to Gate 4 (about 3/4 mile) where I barely missed the last bus. So I and some Negro coworkers hitched a ride. This ride took me to the heart of the Westside ghetto at W. Grand Blvd. and Warren. All about were looted and burned out buildings. Fortunately I caught a cab home for $1.10. Ouch! [A lot of money for me back then.]

    “Tonight has been idled away listening to the worsening sniper war that has been reported on the radio. The east side, which is patrolled by federal paratroopers, appears to be under control, but on the near west side, where the riot originally began, things are going badly. Sniper fire there became so intense that the authorities had to retreat, abandoning a 200 block area to the rioters [for the night] until tanks and armored personnel carriers can be brought in to regain control.

    “This is all fantastic and unfortunate. Now the rioting has spread to other cities—Saginaw, Flint, Grand Rapids and Toledo are all reporting rioting, fires, looting and killings. One gets the feeling that everything is collapsing. Even now the sound of continual gunfire can be heard from my apartment. What a mess!

    My brother called me to ask how I was doing and if I was anywhere near trouble. In answer I held the phone up and let the continual rumble of gunfire punctuated by machine gun bursts be my answer.

    The riot had taken a disturbing turn taking on elements of a guerrilla war. Firefighters, police and national guard reported being targeted by snipers. Already strained and tiring firefighters, now including those from surrounding communities and even Windsor, had to wait for police protection. Many fires could not be fought and spread to nearby residential housing.

    Tuesday night became dubbed “The Great Sniper War” with over 30 sniper instances being reported.

    Read: Day 1 | Day 2

  20. #95

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ray1936 View Post
    Me. 2nd from left, with the tear gas jacket and gun. Philadelphia just east of 12th street or whatever it's called now. DFD photograph; we were covering for the fire fighters who were being stoned on that corner while trying to douse a fire.

    I'd just as soon forget the whole thing. Mob mentality. It's the Stockholm Syndrome gone nutsy.

    Now I'm sitting here, wondering why I bothered to post this in the first place. But I'll hit the 'submit' button anyway.

    Deep, deep sigh.
    Ray1936, we all see things in a different perspective as we age. I understand that you would rather forget the whole thing. Maybe this thread may be some consolation to you. I was involved with Fire-Rescue as a volunteer and a paid-on-call in two states and I have empathy for you and what you went through, for what I saw and worked on pales in comparison to your service.

    Thank you.

  21. #96

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    July 27,1967. Got my temporary instruction permit and a restricted motorcycle license. My mother, my father and I were awaiting on an exact date for his admittance to Mt. Carmel Mercy Hospital for exploratory surgery for a throat problem. Date was pushed back to early August for admittance.

    He never left there, delay probably never made any difference.

    It was surreal, nightly my mother and I would drive down Seven Mile to Outer Drive, my urban driver's training, then down Schaefer to Mc Nichols to Grand River and back to Farmington Township. As that area seemed to remain unscathed it was no big deal to me at 15, her, another thing and I know when my dad was between surgeries he was concerned for our well being as he had seen a lot over the years as a beer truck driver in the city from the 1930's as well as one of my uncles having been on DPD at the 14th from the late 1940's to the early 1950's and what they had shared of war stories.

  22. #97

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    Day 4: The following is my account of the 1967 Detroit Riot, as excerpted from a diary I kept and I am now posting, in advance of each day, 50 years later.

    Wednesday July 26, 1967
    “A calm appears to have come upon Detroit tonight. Sniping instances, although they were occurring in daylight, fell off at night. Even from my apartment, the gunfire is infrequent.

    “When I rose this morning, I went and purchased some groceries—no milk though as it is nonexistent in this area. Last night's warfare raised the death toll to 35 dead, thus making this riot not only the costliest, but also the deadliest in the nation’s history , surpassing even the 1965 Watts riot in deaths and by four times in damage, and also surpassing the 1943 Detroit riot. More preparation and policing seems to have curbed tonight's violence."

    The exception was a very loud, very nearby sniper fire fight. I learned from a fellow worker the next day that it had occurred three blocks away, behind the Detroit Institute of Arts. A crack from the sniper’s rifle would sound out. A second later a volley of gunfire would erupt including two machine guns. One was a shoot-through-bricks fifty calibre gun with its by-then distinctive sound—a deep, throaty whump, whump, whump—would start slowly and build in velocity.


    After two or three minutes and a couple hundred or so rounds the guns would fall silent only to rage again when the sniper fired the next shot. This went on for at least six rounds.

    “I worked again for only four hours and again barely got home under the curfew. Rumors at work say that the death toll is considerably higher than reported. As I went to sleep tonight a long hoped-for cooling rain fell on the city.”

    On Wednesday night the Detroit Police and National Guard were again forced to retreat for from the same two hundred block area of the near westside that they had abandoned the previous night.


    A block away from me, at the 13th Precinct Station, Detroit police officers had worn and haggard faces from the long hours and stress. Most of the patrol cars had been damaged. Dirty and heavily dented, often with cracked windows, they looked as tired as the occupants they were carrying out on yet another four-car patrol with bristling rifle barrels sticking out windows.

    Nonetheless the corner would turn on Wednesday. The riot had begun to burn itself out. The weight of thousands of troops and law enforcement officers was making a difference.

    Patrolled by Federal Airborne troops, the eastside had quickly grown quiet. Many attributed it to their being about one third Afro-American and of half having had Vietnam combat experience. They were greeted warmly. Their coolness and being strictly command-controlled soldiers avoided creating incidents out of panic. And, when faced with real action, they suppressed it quickly and efficiently.

    Visually they were all spit-and-polish, lean and hard young men. Their uniforms were clean and pressed, pants neatly fitted into their shiny over-the-calf paratrooper boots.

    Their contrast to the rag-tag and almost entirely Euro-American Michigan National Guardsmen, who were deployed on the westside, was laughably different. Those weekend warriors were often slovenly dressed and overweight, exhibiting a demeanor of a demoralized fighting force. One could have imagined that they had been rounded up from bars, had uniforms thrown on them and rifles handed to them.

    Read: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3

  23. #98

  24. #99

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    [QUOTE .... Federal Airborne troops.....They were greeted warmly. Their coolness and being strictly command-controlled soldiers..........Visually they were all spit-and-polish, lean and hard young men. Their uniforms were clean and pressed, pants neatly fitted into their shiny over-the-calf paratrooper boots.......

    [/QUOTE]

    Not entirely, Lowell! Had an experience (immortalized with a photo I still have) will share.
    Along about Friday or Sat morning things had calmed down enough during the daylight hours that my friend and I decided to venture out for some sightseeing. Once the real danger had passed there was a kind of carnival-type atmosphere that had taken hold, people wanted to get out and gawk.
    Think we had heard that the restaurants in Greektown had re-opened, so maybe we were thinking of getting some lunch on our way downtown. Likely we were headed to see if Hudson's or Crowley's were open. Anyway, it was a short and pleasant walk from 1300 E. Lafayette to Greektown which we took by way of E. Beaubian.
    Sure enough, when we got to 1300 E. Beaubian, police H.Q. bldg., there were military vehicles parked along with the police cars, vans, etc. But no one milling around except for one single 82nd trooper, a young black man, casually leaning against a jeep parked close to the sidewalk we were on. No beret but wearing standard-issue helmet.
    I didn't own a camera back then but my friend Steph had brought her's for our sightseeing tour. An old circa 1963 Brownie, I think.
    So, we asked the soldier if we could take some pictures, he said sure, go ahead. Then, we got a little bolder and asked if my friend could sit in the Jeep while I took her picture. Sure! Just as Steph climbed into the Jeep one of us, not sure which one of us after all these years, got the bright idea to ask the soldier if Steph could hold his rifle (Think it was an M-16, not sure though).
    Thinking that we would quickly be told "no, of course not, you kids get out of here now" imagine our surprise when this paratrooper, really just a kid himself probably around our own ages of 17, readily handed over his rifle to Steph, who nearly dropped it, as she told me later it was quite heavy.
    Not knowing anything at all about rifles neither of us had any idea if the soldier had the safety on the M-16 or not. We were so giddy, so pleased with ourselves, thinking ahead of how jealous our friends would be when we showed off our photo treasure/trophy of the riots!
    The final product was this - my friend behind the wheel of the jeep, holding up the huge rifle, big s*** eatin' grin, but the soldier had turned his head a second before I snapped the shutter. Why?
    Suddenly we heard all this shouting coming from an upper floor of the P.D. bldg. Apparently, someone in authority had gazed out, became aghast at the scene he was viewing below, flung open the window and began yelling at the soldier.
    My memory is a little fuzzy how we got out of there. I recall we had enough wits about us to know we might be in some sort of trouble for our little joke. We certainly knew the soldier was in Big Trouble for his role in allowing such a foolish thing.
    Running wasn't an option. I knew that would be a really, really bad idea. Good way to get ourselves shot and killed. Anyway, Steph had gotten out of the Jeep so fast when the commotion started she banged her leg really hard, couldn't have run for her life if she wanted to.
    A random thought crossed my mind we should head back, maybe try and get inside Mariner's Church? But it probably had not been un-locked yet.
    So we started walking back up Beaubian, scared witless, that at any moment a military vehicle would pull up alongside and we would hear that fearsome word "Halt" But the angels must have been looking out for us that morning as no one followed us.
    Sometimes I still wonder what sort of punishment that young soldier suffered because of us.
    Sometimes I also wonder what if the safety had not been on the M-16, Steph did drop it, it went off, and that soldier (or someone else) had been hit by fire.
    Guess there is no wondering what would have happened to us then.
    Last edited by easternshorebird; July-26-17 at 02:22 PM.

  25. #100

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    I remember the riots and the "Tanks" and the armed military coming down McGraw when I was younger. A few years later I was a co-op student from Cass Tech working in the Penobscot Building and what I remembered most was getting out of work at 5 pm and there were only a handful of people downtown rushing to get home once it got dark. Most were taking buses home like I was - all the wonderful stores I had shopped at growing up were all gone and the ones that were left had grates pulled over them after business hours. It was so heartbreaking to see how bleak the city became at that point in time. And then last week I see the chief of police on tv talking about the three separate police calls that were responded to and at all three - the officer were shot at!! again heartbreaking.... but the city has come a long way since and I am so happy to work downtown and see it come back to life. Not sure if the movies coming out will hurt or help in the long run but I do believe the past should never be forgotten.

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