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July 23, 1977 - Image 6

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1977-07-23

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Poo& SiTHE MICHIGAN DAILY Saturday, July 23,~i )
DETROIT '67:
Memory-searing holocaust

Part One-DETROIT, 1967
By KEITH B. RICHBURG
It began in the pre-dawn hours of
July 23rd, a decade ago. The Sabbath
day. Temperatures reached a weekend
high somewhere in the 80's, and temp-
ers were at a boiling point.
Just weeks earlier, rumor had hit the
streets that a 12th street prostitute had
been murdered by Detroit Police vice-
squad officers, a rumor never substan-
tiated.
AT ANY RATE, Sunday, July 23rd,
1967 was the wrong-time for the twelve
officers of the 10th precinct to stage a
routine raid on a neighborhood "Blind
Pig," an after-hours gambling spot for
ghetto Blacks.
The bad timing also coupled with the
hand of fate that Sunday morning. In-
stead of the usual 30 people netted in
such busts, the twelve officers arrested
some 80 patrons, and back-up wagons
had to be called.
Says Ms. Ray Girardin, widow of
the then-Detroit Police commissioner, "It
was a raid and it just took a little too
long. They took too long getting the peo-
ple in the wagon.
A CROWD HAD GATHERED at the
corner of 12th Street and Clairmont and
as their numbers grew, so did their
hostility.
United States Congressman John Con-
yers thinks the police themselves added
to the crowd's anger. "It was clearly
precipitated by illegal police activity,"
says Congers. "If the police hadn't
thrown women down the stairs when
they raided that blind pig it wouldn't
have happened." ,
Within minutes after the last police
car left the scene, came the first re-
ports of fires being set, and store win-f
dows being broken. By 9:30 that morn-
ing, all available units of the DPD were
ordered into the 12th Street area; The
FBI, state police, and prosecutors of-
fices were notified. By 11:00, Congress-
man Conyers, representative of the dis-
trict, was atop a car hood trying to
dissuade the mob by speaking through
a bullhorn.
CONYERS -RECALLS, "There was
clearly the anger and frustration of be-

ing left out of a system that had no
use for them.
"I didn't look at it and say 'Gosh,
this is a riot - it could last a week,' "
Conyers said.
Reports of the uprising spread faster
by word-of-mouth and ghetto telephone
contact than by the media, which was
on the scene almost instantly. Within
hours of the initial disturbance the up-
rising had spread north of Clairmont,
as far west as Grand River Avenue, and
all the way south to West Grand Blvd.
' BY 7:00 P.M., under the order of
Governor George Romney, National
Guardsmen were on Detroit's streets.
The following day brought no let-up
as it had just a year earlier when rain

averted a potential riot on Kercheval
on the city's East side. Now, the riot
of 1967, in full-scale, moved east of Wood-
ward. And as the riot spread outward
from its original confines, so began
the fierce sniping battles on both sides
of Woodward.
The second day, Monday, also brought
in President Lyndon Johnson's personal
envoy, Cyrus Vance (now Secretary-of
State). Vance surveyed the scene and
decided to cancel Governor Romney's
plea for Federal troops.
THE STORY OF Federal troops could
be called a prime example of bureauc-
racy in action, even in the heat of a
crisis. The first request was made on
Sunday, only hours after Detroit erupt-

ed. Not until Wednesday was the 82nd
Airborne Division deployed under the
command of General John Throckmor-
ton.
Even when troopers had occupied the
city the General ordered no Federal
paratroopers east of Woodward Avenue,
leaving the most intense area of riot-
ing to the younger, inexperienced Na-
tional Guardsmen.
During no other time was the guards
inexperience more tragically depicted
than in the Tanya Blanding incident.
Responding to sniper fire on 12th Street
near Euclid, near the site of the original
insurrection, a guard batallion sprayed
the window of a corner apartment with
gunfire, killing four-year-old Tanya
Blanding.
AND IN THE same manner Tanya
Blanding personifies all that is tragic in
violence, the Algiers Motel incident re-
veals that which is the most disgust-
ing'- the basest instincts of man un-
leashed during times of crisis.
The Algiers Motel at Woodward and
Virginia Park was a one-story transient
inn, frequented by the world of prosti-
tution and drugs. At pre-dawn Wednes-
day, July 25, troopers found the bodies
of three black males in a rear annex
of the Algiers. Seven other patrons had
been sadistically beaten.
A week later, Officers Ronald August,
Robert Paille, and Donald Senak of the
Detroit Police Department were charged
with murder.
THE 'OFFICIAL' END of the 1967
riot is a matter of debate, but by most
accounts, peace was restored the Sun-
day after the eruption, although the
Guard would not vacate the city until
the next wekend.
The toll for Detroit, however, was
costly indeed. -
The Motor City, once considered a
"model city" for having avoided the
tragedies of Watts and Newark, had just
*experienced the most destructive up-
heavel of civil disturbance in the 20th
century. In the aftermath, 43 were dead,
some 7,000 injured. Over 40,000 fires had
been set, and strips of once proud shop-
ping districts lay gutted. The cost was
estimated at $22 million, but Detroit
suffered a cost that could not be meas-
ured on the monetary scale, a loss of
prestige she is still fighting to recover
a decade after 1967.

most destructive civil disorder in American history-a five
43 lives and cost nearly $22 million in damages.

sed as "social criminals and
misfits," their campaign mere-
ly "another ploy in the sixty-
year-old U. S. capitalist-imper-
ialist policy'.. ."It
In any case, argues the CP,
Look Homeward, Jimmy Car- man rights question is found America is so corrupt and deca-
ter: The State of Human in this recently printed 67- dent, that we have no right to
Rights, U.S.A. page booklet. give lessons in ethics to Cum-
Prepared by: The Communist A polemic effort like Look munists" with our own "putrid
Party, U.S.A./June, 1977 Homeward might have served system stinking up the atmos-
a very useful purpose in to- phere."
By MATTHEW BERKE day's troubled America. It Look Homeward presents an
might have stood as an import- image of modern America
HE American Communist ant statement on the need for which is somewhere in-between
Party, unlike its Western democratic and humane social- the Great Depression of the
European counterparts, has al- ism as the basis for a just so- 1930's and Devil's Island. It
ways followed the Moscow ciety. seems as though hardly any-
"line." Throughout the current Unfortunately, however, CP body escapes the misery of the
human rights controversy, in 'ack writers churned out no 'eeming slums or unsafe and
which President Carter has giv- more than a piece of loud de- low - paying factory jobs. The
en public support to Russian magoguery, complete with his- only people taken care of are
dissidents, the American CP torical prevarications, unsub- "a tiny handful of profit swol-
nas stood firm in its support of "tantiated facts, and shocking- )en monopolists." American
all Soviet policies. ly bigotted one-sidedness. elections are a "fraud" and
They have, in fact, turned ree speech is a "myth."
the tables on President Carter, THE RUSSIAN dissidents, There is so much exaggera-
accusing him of perpetuating whose plight has been the spark tion and distortion here, that
human rights violations in the of the present controversy, are one might seriously ask who
US while using fabricated in- given short shrift in the CP - the CP wrote this book for.
justices in the USSR to divert statement. There is too much Indeed few Americans, includ-
attention from his own domes- 'umping on the US to give their ing many people on the left,
tic problems. The CP's most struggle much discussion. The would fail to be offended by
concise statement on the hu- dissidents aie blithely dismis- Look Homeward.

Of course there is some un-
deniable truth laced through-
out this whole book - the in-
excusable persistence of pov-
erty, for example, or the il-
tegal and repressive practices
of the FBI. But all of these
problems are already being dis-
cussed and combatted in -the
US, albeit inadequately and of-
ten insincerely.
THE MAIN POINT here,
however, is that Looking Home-
ward adds virtually nothing to
a constructive discussion of so-
cial problems - except per-
haps a touch of hysteria.
But the most courageous, yet
predictable, aspect of Iook
Homeward is its praise for the
Soviet system, as a positive
model to contrast against the
US. Page after page, the CP
statement rails against FBI
"dirty tricks" and duplicity.
No freedom - loving American
would fail to share the same
indignation.
Hopefully, however, they.
would not seek to, remake
their government after the So-
viet system, where KGB agents
do not have to practice dirty
'ricks if they want some one

to lose their job or their lib-
erty. The KGB can just order
it done.
One could go on and on point-
ing out similar examples of
hypocrisy in Look Homeward.
In the end, though, it would
probably be an exasperating
and nseless effort - one in
whic the critic might sound
as narrowly partisan as the CP
propagandists.
The really important thing to
be said about this document is
that it represents the pro-Mos-
"ow Communist line on the
question of human rights. That
line, sadly, will probably do
nothing to advance the cause
of human rights anywhere.
Have a flair for
artistic writing?
11 you are interest-
ed in reviewing
poetry, and msic
or writing feature
stories anout the
drama, dance, tlm
arts: Contact Arts
Editor, c/o The
Michigan ttaily.

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