Friday, July 25, 2008

Motor City Is Burning

Over on Edge of the West, my favorite history blog, and it ought to be yours too, dave has a great post up about Detroit in 1967:

Two days after the 12th Street neighborhood erupted in violence on July 23, Johnson sent 400 paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne as well as 8000 additional Guardsmen to suppress the violence. Coleman Young, a Michigan state senator who would later serve as mayor of Detroit, characterized what followed as a “police riot.” Nearly half of the dead were shot by police, soldiers and guardsmen; most of these were shot in the back, and nearly all were unarmed.

The post is an example of why I love Edge so much: it traces, concisely, clearly, the American history, especially with regard to labor and racism, showing how our ineffective public policy fails in regard to those things, and what happens next -- what is doomed to happen next. The unrest of the 60's gets blamed on those hippies and on Dr. Spock. This post makes it clear what's really to blame.

From the comments:

Recently my husband and I found ourselves in conversation with a white man who still expressed pleasure in remembering riding around in police cars with his policeman brother and his brother’s partner during this era of police violence. He loved that his brother and his brother’s partner would stop blacks for nothing and then demand to see their driver’s licenses, tear them up, then return later and arrest them for not having proper ID.

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