Rioting in Detroit, Michigan! (1943)

The Free Lance-Star (June 21, 1943)

Governor calls state troops to keep order

Violent disorder overwhelms city

Detroit, Michigan (AP) –
Widespread race riots that cost the lives of six Negroes and a white physician and resulted in more than 200 injuries to Negroes and whites alike flickered and flared intermittently this afternoon.

Governor Harry Kelly of Michigan, before speeding to Detroit from Columbus by Army bomber, ordered Michigan State Police and state troops mobilized to preserve order.

Mayor Edward J. Jeffries Jr. of Detroit said he would ask the Governor on his arrival to declare martial law in the city.

About 75 military policemen, drawn chiefly from an Army post at suburban River Rouge, arrived at police headquarters this afternoon. They were to be assigned to patrol duty to keep servicemen out of the riot areas, police officials said.

Tear gas was used within a stone’s throw of the City Hall when a group chased a Negro youth from Monroe Ave. into the Campus Martius, on the east side of Woodward Ave. Officers used the gas to disperse the crowd which gathered.

The physician who was fatally beaten as he was answering a call in the riot area was identified as Dr. Joseph De Horatiis.

Six Negroes were also dead, victims of the racial flareup, and a police sergeant was critically wounded in a gunfight with a Negro store-looting gang.

Detroit, Michigan (AP) –
Michigan State Police and state troops were ordered to Detroit today to restore order after six persons were killed and some 200 injured in widespread race riots.

Capt. Donald S. Leonard of Michigan State Police announced shortly before 11 a.m. that Governor Harry Kelly of Michigan had ordered mobilization of the state forces.

At that time, outbreaks of violence which had spread from an altercation at the Belle Isle Bridge late last night were continuing despite the mobilization of the entire 2,500 members of the police force of the nation’s fourth largest city.

Six Negroes had lost their lives. A white physician, attacked while answering a call and a police sergeant were critically injured. The police sergeant was shot in a gunfight with a Negro store-looting gang.

Capt. Leonard said the Governor had directed mobilization, at two Detroit armories, of 1,000 state troops picked from the best-trained companies of the state. In addition, he said, between 400 and 500 members of the State Police force including those in Michigan’s upper peninsula, more than 300 miles from Detroit, were already mobilized and standing by ready for action if needed.

Governor Kelly arranged to fly to Detroit from Columbus, Ohio, where he had gone for the annual governor’s conference.

He said at Columbus:

I am not declaring martial law. I am trying to hold the situation without that.

The Governor said:

We’ve got to stop this today if we’re ever going to.

Rampant disorder

Groups of Negroes and of whites milled about on street corners in a wide section bordering and northeast of downtown Detroit, hurling stones and bricks at passing automobiles bearing members of both races. Automobiles were overturned. Police reported every window on Hastings St., “Paradise Valley” of the Detroit Negro section, broken for a distance of 25 blocks.

Hospitals were crowded with persons awaiting treatment of injuries.

Before noon, police had arrested 326 persons on charges ranging from felonious assault to disturbing the peace and carrying concealed weapons.

All saloons in Detroit and suburban Hamtramck were ordered closed. Police directed pawnshop and hardware store operators to remove from windows and shelves all stocks of guns, ammunition and knives and to lock them in safes.

Two Negro leaders, the Rev. Horace White of Plymouth Congregational Church and Otis Saunders of the Double-V Committee, a Negro organization, reported to Mayor Edward J. Jeffries they were met by jeeps when they toured the area of violence in a police car with sound amplifiers, appealing for a cessation of fighting.

False report

White and Saunders said one cause of the emotional disturbance that resulted in the riot was a widespread, erroneous report among members of their race that a Negro woman and child were slain Sunday on Belle Isle, recreational and swimming spot in the Detroit River.

They recommended mobilization of 200 Negro leaders deputized as special officers, as the best means to halt the rioting. Police agreed to the recruiting of 200 Negroes as special aides, but said they would not be deputized and would not carry arms.

Auxiliary special policemen, trained by civilian defense units to aid the police during air raids, were ordered mobilized. Among them are many Negroes.

At noon, Police Commissioner John Witherspoon said the outbreaks of violence appeared to have tapered off into isolated incidents.

Thirteen Detroit elementary schools were closed, after Deputy Superintendent of Schools Herman J. Browe reported thousands of pupils were either kept at home by frightened parents or were taken home after word of the rioting spread.

Operations of two streetcar lines leading through the Negro section were halted when motormen refused to take the cars through that district for fear of violence.

Workers leave jobs

The Ford Motor Company reported hundreds of Negro workers had asked to leave work for the day because they had received calls from their homes saying they were needed.

Mayor Jeffries asked United Automobile Workers officials to have all plant stewards instruct their members to stay out of the downtown area this afternoon and tonight.

Disturbances which occurred over an area roughly 3 square miles heavily populated by Negroes and lying east and northeast of the downtown area, spread this morning to Woodward Ave., “Main Stem” of Detroit which runs from the Detroit River north.

At Woodward and Adelaide Sts., a crowd of 300-400 whites was reported milling about, stoning every passing automobile that carried Negroes. Police reported it consisted mostly of young men dressed in overalls and working clothes. A barrage of rocks forced one car to strike a safety zone; the car was then overturned.

This group was finally dispersed when police riot cars arrived with 20 officers carrying machine guns and tear-gas pistols.

Senior Inspector Edward Graff reported a crowd of 500 Negroes broke into a pawn shop on Hastings St., obtaining revolvers and ammunition. Hastings St., known locally as “Paradise Valley,” is the center of the Detroit Negro area.

Many arrested

A survey of five police precinct stations at 8 a.m. showed at least 238 persons held for assault and disturbing the peace.

One of those slain bore a draft card issued to Carl Lincoln, 19. Patrolmen Harold Bole and Vernon Hayden said they fired after he threw a brick at Bole. The officers said they were called to Hancock and Beaubien Sts. by two Negro patrolmen who reported Lincoln was molesting women and throwing bricks into the street. One of the police bullets struck him in the chest.

The others killed were identified through cards on their persons as William Hardges, 27, and Robert Davis, 28.

Police reports said two officers were wounded in a gun battle with Negroes at Division and Hastings Sts.

Most of the widespread rioting which had continued through the early morning hours was reported under control at 7 a.m.

After a conference of high law enforcement officials, Capt. Donald S. Leonard of the Michigan State Police said he believed that Detroit police were getting the situation in hand and that he would advise Governor Harry F. Kelly “there was no immediate need for martial law.”

Disorder widespread

Windows of stores in the Negro district were smashed, there was considerable looting, and at least 20 taxicabs were stoned and damaged, police reported.

The conference of officials began at 4 a.m., and continued in session for several hours. One of its actions was to close all saloons in the Negro district.

Inspector Robert Turner, harbormaster at Belle Isle, said the rioting started at about 10:30 Sunday night on the broad bridge that leads from Jefferson Ave. to Belle Isle, popular recreation park in the Detroit River. Turner said that the hot Sunday brought about 50,000 persons to the island, “90% of them Negroes,” and that there were several minor fights during the day. Turner said he believed a minor squabble on the bridge in the midst of the traffic jam caused the outbreak.

The disorder spread to Jefferson Ave. and then into the main Negro district.

In an effort to control the situation, several hundred sailors from the naval armory which adjoins the Belle Isle Bridge, were strung in a line across Jefferson Ave., blocking off traffic.

The 1940 U.S. census gave Detroit 149,119 Negroes out of a total population of 1,623,452.

Previous trouble

There have been a number of minor racial incidents in Detroit during recent months and several strikes have occurred at war factories over the racial issue on production lines. The most important of these was early in June at the Packard Motor Car Company following which R. J. Thomas, president of the United Automobile Workers (CIO), declared in a speech that he had “absolute evidence” that it had been promoted “by agents of the Ku Klux Klan, acting for the enemy.”

The Ku Klux Klan denied that it had anything to do with the Packard strike.

The Double-V Committee, a Negro organization, issued a public appeal at 4:30 a.m., addressed to the “Negroes of Detroit” and stating:

Despite incidents which occur which are exceedingly unjust, unfair, and discriminatory against our group, we must not resort to violence or give way to race hatred.

Troops called in Detroit race riots

Columbus, Ohio (AP) –
Governor Harry F. Kelly of Michigan announced today he had ordered full mobilization of the Michigan State Guard and State Police to cope with a race riot in Detroit.

Kelly also asked Maj. Gen. H. S. Aurand, commander of the 6th Service Command, to hold in readiness a battalion of military police at River Rouge.

Kelly said:

I am not declaring martial law. I am trying to hold the situation without that. The troops will be taken into Detroit company by company, if and as needed.

I am asking the Army to have its military police battalion at River Rouge on the alert.

Kelly, here for the annual governor’s conference, acted after conferring by telephone with his secretary, Tom Kenny, at Lansing, and Mayor Edward J. Jeffries of Detroit.

Arrangements were made to fly Kelly and his Adjutant General LeRoy Pearson to Michigan in an Army bomber at once.

Kelly said:

If we can bottle this fast, we won’t need martial law. Thank Heaven the Michigan State Guard is well-organized.

In a telephone conversation with Oscar Olander, Michigan State Police Commissioner, the Governor declared:

My orders are these, bring in more than you need than less. We’ve got to stop this today if we’re going to. We’ll try to handle it without martial law.

The Governor expressed satisfaction that there was sufficient manpower to handle the situation quickly.


Brooklyn Eagle (June 21, 1943)

5 slain, 200 injured in Detroit race riots

326 arrested – 3,500 cops fight for order – 2,500 home guards, troopers held ready

Detroit, Michigan (UP) –
Race rioting growing out of a fight between a white man and a Negro at Belle Isle last night spread through the downtown Negro section today and before noon, five persons were dead.

Authorities, faced with the prospect of the rioting getting out of hand, ordered 2,500 home guards, auxiliary police and state troopers to “stand by.”

A white man was reported near death at Receiving Hospital. A physician, he was pulled from his overturned car and beaten severely.

Approximately 3.500 policemen were put on duty to quell the rioting.

Governor to arrive

The main area of rioting was a two-mile strip of Negro residential and business district east of Woodward Ave., Detroit’s main thoroughfare.

Governor Harry F. Kelly announced at a governor’s conference in Columbus that he had chartered a special plane and would arrive here early this afternoon to confer with civilian and military authorities.

Police reported 326 persons taken into custody and more than 200 injured. The latter included eight policemen.

Police said the riots were touched off late last night during a fight between a white man and a Negro at Belle Isle Park south of the city. Other persons joined in and the rioting spread slowly early today to Negro sections of the city. “Zoot suits” were not involved.

Mayor Edward J. Jeffries Jr. and Police Commissioner John Witherspoon were reported to have asked the State Liquor Commission to “dry up” the entire city – close all state-owned or controlled liquor stores. Establishments in the Negro sections had already been closed.



Directing Detroit race rioters to disperse

Whereas, the Governor of the State of Michigan has represented that domestic violence exists in said State which the authorities of said State are unable to suppress; and

Whereas, it is provided in the Constitution of the United States that the United States shall protect each State in this Union, on application of the Legislature, or of the Executive, when the Legislature cannot be convened, against domestic violence; and

Whereas, by the law of the United States in pursuance of the above, it is provided that in all cases of insurrection in any State or of obstruction of the laws thereof, it shall be lawful for the President of the United States, on application of the Legislature of such State, or of the Executive, when the Legislature cannot be convened, to call forth the militia of any other State or States and to employ such part of the land and naval forces of the United States as shall be judged necessary for the purpose of suppressing such insurrection and causing the laws to be duly executed; and

Whereas, the Legislature of the State of Michigan is not now in session and cannot be convened in time to meet the present emergency, and the Executive of said State under Section 4 of Article IV of the Constitution of the United States, and the laws passed in pursuance thereof, has made due application to me in the premises for such part of the military forces of the United States as may be necessary and adequate to protect the State of Michigan and the citizens thereof against domestic violence and to enforce the due execution of the laws; and

Whereas, it is required that whenever it may be necessary, in the judgment of the President, to use the military forces of the United States for the purposes aforesaid, he shall forthwith, by proclamation, command such insurgents to disperse and retire peacefully to their respective homes within a limited time;

Now, Therefore, I, Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United States of America, do hereby make proclamation and I do hereby command all persons engaged in said unlawful and insurrectionary proceedings to disperse and retire peacefully to their respective abodes immediately, and hereafter abandon said combinations and submit themselves to the laws and constituted authorities of said State;

And I invoke the aid and cooperation of all good citizens thereof to uphold the laws and preserve the public peace.

The White House
June 21, 1943

Brooklyn Eagle (June 22, 1943)

Troops halt Detroit riots; war plants slowed, 25 die

Negro absenteeism tops 35% – blame laid to fifth column

Detroit, Michigan (UP) –
Motorized Army troops restored law and order to Detroit today after violent race riots, but production slumped in war plants because of an excessive rate of absenteeism among Negro workers.

Federal Army detachments in battle uniforms bivouacked along a two-mile stretch of Woodward Ave., the city’s main thoroughfare, and mobile units – light tanks, jeeps and armored cars – rolled through narrower streets of the Negro section with guns loaded and orders to “use them, if necessary.”

The troops moved into the city shortly before midnight under direct orders from President Roosevelt to halt rioting Negro and white mobsters whose 24-hour reign of terror left 25 persons dead, nearly 700 injured and thousands of dollars of property damage. Tension seemed to vanish with arrival of the soldiers.

Violence has ended

Governor Harry F. Kelly said reports from state and city police and federal authorities were “very good” this morning. Last violence, he said, was reported at 4:30 a.m., when Negro was killed while looting a store.

Production in Detroit’s busy war plants, curtailed yesterday by disrupted transportation services, was still hampered today by absenteeism of Negro workers. The Ford Motor Company reported that “several thousand” Negroes – approximately 35% of its foundry personnel – remained away. Unless more of the employees turned by noon, it may be necessary to close the foundries, a Ford spokesman said.

General Motors reported its production undiminished despite the fact that “more than 50%” of its Negro employees failed to report today. Its spokesman said other workers picked up the slack and kept production at normal levels.

High absenteeism

Chrysler Corporation reported that absenteeism at its Dodge plant, which employs many Negro workers, amounted to nearly 35%. Briggs Manufacturing Company likewise reported abnormally high absenteeism among Negroes.

Negro and white leaders alike blamed fifth-column activities for yesterday’s widespread race riots – the nation’s worst, civil disturbance since World War I – and urged immediate steps to prevent recurrence of the bloody street fighting.

A statement by white leaders read:

This is not an isolated incident arising from a chance fistfight. It is part of an organized national fifth-column conspiracy to break our unity and disrupt the home production front.

Branded conspiracy

They charged that the Ku Klux Klan and “other fifth-column elements” inspired the riots and asked an “immediate roundup and arrest of all known Klan and other fifth-column leaders” in this area. The Negro statement said it wished to “tell the white citizens of Detroit that the Negro people are their friends.”

Governor Kelly also announced that the ban on “assemblages” invoked yesterday would force cancellation of today’s scheduled Detroit-Cleveland baseball game and a race meet at the Detroit Fair Grounds track.

Brig. Gen. William E. Gunther, in charge of federal troops here, said three battalions of Regular Army infantry – approximately 2,100 men – are en route from Camp McCoy, Wisconsin, to relieve military police, many of whom will have been on duty 24 hours.

With fixed bayonets, the soldiers marched slowly behind armored cars, whose machine guns were trained upon second-story windows from which there had been sniping earlier in the evening. Within a few minutes, streets were cleared and peace was restored. However, the streets still bore evidence of the rioting – overturned and demolished cars and trucks, looted shops, broken glass and bloody remnants of clothing scattered almost everywhere.

Brig. Gen. Gunther said 1,200 additional soldiers were being held in reserve at Fort Wayne and Selfridge Field, Michigan. Detroit’s 3,500 weary city police were also to be joined today by 1,500 state troopers from as far north as the upper peninsula of Michigan and by Michigan Guardsmen mobilized by the Governor.

The death toll reached 25 – 22 Negroes and three whites – early today, with at least 15 of the victims reportedly slain by police. Dr. Austin Z. Howard, chief surgeon at Receiving Hospital, which alone treated more than 500 of the injured, described the rioting as the “worst calamity” in Detroit’s history.

Started with fistfight

The fighting began Sunday night on the bridge to Belle Isle Park – an island off the east side of the city – with a fistfight between a Negro and a white man. The rioting continued until it reached full battle proportions yesterday.

Kelly’s state of emergency proclamation ordered everyone, except those going to and from work in Detroit’s busy war plants, to observe a 10 p.m. curfew. Barrooms and places of amusement, including theaters, were closed until “further notice.”

There were pitched battles everywhere despite police efforts to disperse rioters with tear gas and gunfire.

Police battle 200 Negroes

Biggest fight of the riot saw 200 state and local police dislodge Negroes who had been sniping at them with shotguns and revolvers from upper windows of a downtown apartment building. Police returned the gunfire and tossed dozens of tear-gas bombs through the windows. The battle raged for two and a half hours before the Negroes surrendered. When the smoke and tear-gas fumes had cleared, two Negroes were found dead and one policeman was injured seriously.

The riots, the worst since a reign of tenor brought death to 33 persons in East St. Louis, Illinois, on July 2, 1917, filled hospitals and prisons with battered and bruised Negroes and whites.

The outbreak, although it came so quickly that it overwhelmed civil authorities, was not entirely unexpected. Conditions in Detroit have been pointing steadily toward an outbreak since the heavy influx of Negroes from the rural areas in the South and Midwest seeking the high wages paid in the world’s greatest production center.

In the last census, of the total population of 1,623,452, Negroes accounted for 149,119. But the figures have grown proportionately with the boom of war prosperity and the population of the metropolitan area is now estimated at 2,500,000.

Sailors save Negro

Detroit, Michigan (UP) –
A gang of white youths began to close in on a Negro front of the City Hall. Three sailors, none of them more than 20, stepped in and broke it up.

One of the sailors said:

He isn’t doing you guys any harm. Let him alone!

One of the mobsters snapped:

What’s it to you?

The sailor barked:

Plenty! There was a colored guy in our outfit and he saved a couple of lives. Besides, you guys are stirring up something that we’re trying to stop.

Völkischer Beobachter (June 23, 1943)

23 Tote, über 709 Verletzte

Einer Reuter-Meldung aus Neuyork zufolge wurde vom Gouverneur des Staates Michigan in Detroit der Ausnahmezustand verhängt, weil bei Unruhen gegen Neger 23 Personen getötet und über 700 verletzt wurden.

Brooklyn Eagle (June 23, 1943)

Editorial: We can find in ourselves the cause of Detroit’s riots

Whenever there is an outbreak such as this week disgraced Detroit, there is a tendency for observers to hunt around for a scapegoat. A lot of people wonder if the rioting in Detroit wasn’t Axis-inspired.

That would be a simple explanation that would suggest a simple remedy. If we rooted out Axis propagandists, we’d have no more of such trouble.

The real explanation, perhaps unfortunately, is not so easy. Hitler doesn’t have to sow seeds of hate and prejudice and intolerance and just plain, mean cussedness in our hearts. We have a domestic growth of those things quite adequate to flower into something like the shameful crop harvested in Detroit.

Hitler must chortle over the news of race riots in Detroit and coal strikes in Pennsylvania, but let’s not kid ourselves that he starts those things. We do all right on our own.

Trouble is, we talk a better brand of democracy than we live. We get all choked up with emotion on the speaker’s platform and our voices tremble as we brag about our belief in the brotherhood of all men and equality of humanity. But when it comes down to cases we don’t ACT like brothers. We don’t even act like friends. We don’t have the honesty to admit our prejudices.

Detroit has boasted for years of the way its collections of foreign-born and its colonies of native-born Americans got along. It conveniently overlooked the fact that the newcomers brought their prejudices right along with their extra shirts. It overlooked the fact that the older residents had some hot prejudices of their own and that everyone who had lived in Detroit a year considered himself an old-timer and resented the arrival of anyone who came after him.

Detroit didn’t believe that what happened could happen. Mobs battled all of Sunday night but the authorities still, apparently, didn’t believe it could happen. That would seem to be the only reason why there was so long a delay before soldiers were called in.

No one believed that sooner or later the price of prejudice, of economic servitude, of the denial of ordinary rights would have to be paid. But it always does.

Negroes return to Detroit factories as race riot wanes

Army, police still patrol fight zones

Detroit, Michigan (UP) –
Negro workers returned to factories and boosted lagging war production to near-normalcy today as federal and state troops and city police patrolled streets in the wake of Detroit’s turbulent race riots.

Tension diminished considerably in the Negro district as Governor Harry F. Kelly abolished two of six restrictions included in his state of emergency order issued Monday during rioting which left 29 persons – 25 of them Negroes – dead and more than 700 injured.

Kelly said after a conference with Michigan State Police and military officials today that other restrictions may be lifted tomorrow, “if we get through today without incident.” He added, however, that the 10 p.m. curfew will remain in effect at least one more day.

3,900 troops on guard

Brig. Gen. William E. Gunther, in charge of federal troops in the area, announced there are now 3,900 federal soldiers in the city, including 2,100 infantry and 1,800 military police. In addition, 2,700 State Home Guard troops are here and another 2,600 have been alerted in event of further trouble.

Additional arrests were reported early today, boosting the total to more than 1,300. Thirty-four Negroes were given 90-day jail sentences yesterday and 15 others, including the first five white defendants, received similar sentences today.

A brighter production picture was reported by all major automotive concerns, which yesterday said Negro absenteeism ranged as high as 75%.

Kelly, describing the 1,300 arrests made since the outbreak of fighting, said “at least 75% of the trouble” was caused by boys 15-21 and that three-fourths of all persons arrested are under 21.

Troopers at ballpark

Although Kelly announced that baseball and horse-racing would be permitted today, he ordered dispatch of 350-man state troop contingents both to the Detroit Fairgrounds Speedway and to Briggs Stadium, where the Tigers meet Cleveland in a doubleheader. Both a ball game and the race meet were called off yesterday.

White and Negro leaders attributed the riots to fifth-column activities and the Ku Klux Klan.

Walter White, secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said the Klan and “Nazi money” circulating here had “something to do with inciting the riots,” and expressed apprehension over what may happen when the soldiers leave.

Völkischer Beobachter (June 24, 1943)

Weiße und Schwarze 36 Stunden im Kampf –
Die Unruhen in Detroit

Von unserer Stockholmer Schriftleitung

Stockholm, 23. Juni –
Über die Negerkrawalle in Detroit wird noch bekannt, daß 1.300 Personen, von denen 83 Prozent Neger sind, verhaftet wurden. In einem von Stockholms Tidningen wiedergegebenen privaten Bericht aus Neuyork heißt es, daß Neger und Weiße 36 Stunden erbittert gegeneinander kämpften.

Die „Schlacht“ fand ihren Höhepunkt in einem großen von Negern bewohnten Miethaus, von wo aus die Neger scharf auf ihre Gegner schossen.

Die Polizei trieb mit Gasbomben und Gewehrfeuer die Mieter heraus, von denen die meisten nur Schlafanzüge anhatten. Zwei Negerhäuser wurden niedergebrannt, die Truppen stellten die Ordnung schließlich mit Geschützen wieder her. 1.100 Soldaten, die mit Stahlhelmen, Gewehren und Maschinengewehren ausgerüstet sind, patrouillieren mit Hilfe der Staatspolizei die Straßen ab.

Die verlogene Erklärung der Behörden, daß diese schweren Zusammenstöße „von der 5. Kolonne verursacht wurden, die die nationale Einigkeit und die innere Produktionsfront brechen wollte,“ wurde vom Chef für das staatliche Untersuchungsbüro dementiert, der davon sprach, „daß die Krawalle durch plötzlich ausbrechenden Rassenhaß hervorgerufen wurden.“

Die schweren Arbeiterunruhen in Detroit, der Stadt der Ford-Werke, die erst nach blutigen Straßenkämpfen durch von Roosevelt aufgebotene Truppen beendet werden konnten, haben in Washington größtes Entsetzen hervorgerufen.

In unterrichteten Kreisen Washingtons wird erklärt, daß die Unruhen von Detroit keineswegs unerwartet gekommen seien. Das immer stärkere Vordringen der amerikanischen Neger in den Industriebezirken des amerikanischen Ostens und Nordens hätte früher oder später zu einer gewaltsamen Abwehr durch die weiße Bevölkerung führen müssen, die sich durch den Strom der Negereinwanderung in ihrer Existenz bedroht fühle. Die Arbeiter von Detroit hätten mit ansehen müssen, wie ein Posten nach dem anderen, der bisher lediglich Weißen Vorbehalten geblieben war, in die Hand der Negerarbeiter fiel, die billiger, anspruchsloser und willfähriger seien. Der Neger sei durch die Umschmeichelung, mit der ihn hohe Regierungsstellen seit Kriegsbeginn umgeben, anspruchsvoller denn je geworden und verlange seine Gleichstellung mit der weißen Bevölkerung. Ein solcher Versuch aber würde in den Südstaaten der Union mit einer Revolution beantwortet werden.

Brooklyn Eagle (June 24, 1943)

Detroit curbs eased as four probe rioting

Detroit, Michigan (UP) –
Governor Harry F. Kelly ordered further relaxation of his emergency proclamation today as “nearly normal” conditions prevailed and a fact-finding committee inquired into the causes of Detroit’s race riot in which 31 Negroes and whites were killed.

The Governor lifted all restrictions in outlying Oakland and Macomb Counties and extended the Wayne County (Detroit) curfew from 10 a.m. to midnight. He also granted permission for sale of liquor in Wayne County from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Since Monday’s rioting, there has been an absolute ban on sale of alcoholic beverages.

Kelly’s new order, indicative of generally calm conditions, came as authorities sped prosecution of more than 1,300 persons arrested during the bloody riots.

Today’s supplementary order left in effect bans on public assemblies and carrying of firearms. It moved the closing time for places of amusement from 9:15 to 11 p.m., but permitted their opening at 6 a.m.

Kelly urged:

…a generous display of the American flag… to raise the morale and restore the peace of mind of the good citizens of Detroit, who may take comfort in the knowledge that they are under the protection of the greatest free and democratic nation in the world.

The Free Lance-Star (June 24, 1943)

Nazis hear riots in U.S. ‘explained’

New York (AP) –
The Nazi-controlled Vichy radio asserted today that Detroit’s race riots were symptomatic of:

…the internal disorganization of a country torn by social injustice, race hatreds, regional disputes, the violence of an irritated proletariat and the gangsterism of a capitalistic police.

The broadcast was recorded by CBS.

The rioting was declared to be both a handicap to war production and an indication of the scope of what the radio said was “the moral and social crisis in the United States.”

1 Like

The Free Lance-Star (June 25, 1943)

No jury probe in riot is planned

Detroit, Michigan (AP) –
Governor Harry F. Kelly said today no grand jury investigation was planned into the race rioting Monday that brought federal troops to restore order on Detroit streets.

The Governor accepted a recommendation of his fact-finding committee of four law enforcement officials that such an inquiry was not needed.

One of the committeemen, Attorney General Herbert J. Rushton, said:

You cannot start a grand jury on hysteria.

Rushton added:

At present there is no evidence upon which a petition for a grand jury could be addressed to any court. When we get evidence that the riot was planned or was inspired by enemy influence, there will be time to think of calling one.

Brooklyn Eagle (June 25, 1943)

Editorial: Racial hatreds of Hitlerism have counterparts here

The Detroit scene, now tranquillized by the presence of formidable Armed Forces in the city, presents a frightening spectacle upon which Americans should compel themselves to gaze, no matter how unpleasant the experience, for the good of their own souls. Through a thoughtful contemplation of what has happened in this great American city, they may be enabled more fully to realize how thin is the line that separates them from all of the national evils that are symbolized in Nazism.

All that happened in Detroit during those two tragic days of rioting and bloodshed has had its counterpart in virtually every city and town in Germany – the angry mobs on the loose, the looting and the destruction, the ferocious assaults upon innocent men, the murder – all animated by racial hatred, that quality of the Nazi mind which has been viewed by all Americans with the deepest abhorrence.

Events compel a recognition of the fact that the judgments we form on the ideals and the practices of our enemies are not always free from a pharisaical element. The Detroit spectacle proves, to our shame and disgrace, that we are not incapable of bitter and violent racial hatreds, that there are in Americans the same base instincts that have been given free rein in Germany under the rule of Adolf Hitler and that have made a once-enlightened nation stand before the world as a symbol of barbarism.

Happily, these outrages at home are of infrequent occurrence and meet with the force of law and of hostile public opinion. Nevertheless, they are a source of national shame and should serve as a warning to all Americans whose concern for the preservation of the ideal of true democracy is deep and sincere, rather than a sham and a pretense – a warning that it can happen here.

The situation in Detroit has been brought under control by the police and the Army but 31 persons have been killed, scores wounded and property has been destroyed. The reign of terror has been ended by force, a solution of the problem which, while better than none, leaves untouched its basic cause – racial hatred.

Americans are fighting today for the achievement of many purposes, not the least of which is the elimination from the world of tomorrow of that spirit which has been dominant in the Germany of Adolf Hitler and has found such shocking expression within recent days in an American city. So long as this spirit flames forth, bringing death and misery to innocent people, Americans will not be free from native Nazism, which is hardly less hideous than the brand that traces its source to Hitler.

The Afro-American (June 26, 1943)

Roosevelt orders military to take city

200 wounded in hospitals, 600 receive minor injuries; 1,300 arrested; damage $250,000; 75% of police in colored area
By T. John Wood

Detroit, Michigan (ANP) –
Under military control by order of President Roosevelt, Detroit settled down to normal Tuesday after 36 hours of bloody rioting in which 25 persons were killed, 200 wounded to a hospital degree, 600 received minor injuries, over 1,300 were placed under arrest and property damage estimated at approximately $250,000.

The list of dead included 22 colored, most of them killed by police who concentrated in the colored area while white rioters took over the downtown section of the city, and three whites, alleged to have been killed in isolated fights with colored citizens.

Police were still checking rumors of the cause of the riot as conflicting stories of isolated incidents between colored and whites at Belle Isle, a bone of contention for the past four years, continued to pour in.

The only eyewitnesses to early skirmishes at Belle Isle late Sunday evening were Miss Gladys House and Thomas Bachelor who said they saw a crowd of approximately 50 white persons chasing a small colored boy.

Within a few seconds, they said, colored people became involved in the affair which spread like wildfire from the interior of the park to the exits and thence to the center of the city which has been virtually sitting on a powder keg for over a year.

Beginning in Detroit’s famed Paradise Valley, and continuing on to the north end up Hastings, Brush, St. Antoine and John R. Sts., colored persons stopped every passing automobile, scanning its occupants for possible white passengers who were promptly taken out and beaten.

Streetcar conductors and motormen were pulled to the street, beaten and chased from the neighborhoods. Streetcar traffic was rerouted around the danger area and military shore police, manning machine-guns and other artillery, entered the danger zone seeking out servicemen.

By 8 p.m., Monday, whites had formed a line approximately four miles long on Woodward Ave. and beat up a colored man who attempted to break through. Stopping all cars, they dragged colored motormen and conductors to the street where they beat them and chased them over to the colored lines.

Over a dozen automobiles were burned in both the colored and white lines as the rioters continued their efforts to break through police cordons for a showdown.

Vandalism and looting in the colored section continued until every white-owned store, pawnshop, tavern and market had been cleaned of merchandise; at one corner, a man virtually went into business selling goods from a looted store.

At another corner, shoes were sold for as low as 10¢ a pair. Approximately 75% of the city’s police force was concentrated in the colored neighborhoods where they beat up bystanders as well as rioters. Three of the colored persons killed were reported to have been shot in cold blood.

The streets were littered with glass and red dust from bricks that had been pulverized after being thrown at passing cars.

Women take part

Women as well as men and boys, both colored and whites, joined parties assaulting motorists who drove through the danger zones. Police used tear gas to scatter crowds that increased in number as the day wore on. A radio reported that the riot was getting out of hand.

Heaviest fighting occurred between Vernor Highway and Eliot Sts. late Monday evening.

Early Monday, police turned over a sound truck to colored leaders who attempted to urge colored people to stop rioting and vandalism. The response to these pleas had a negative effect as women asked:

What about the killing of our colored troops in the Army – how about the Texas riots?

Monday afternoon, Police Commissioner John Witherspoon deputized 250 colored men as special police to keep order in their neighborhoods; theirs, as well as the efforts of the city police only inflamed colored people who were boiling with resentment over the shooting of colored persons by policemen while officers stood by and watched whites beat colored persons into insensibility.

Every colored leader in the city attended a mass meeting Monday where Mayor Edward J. Jeffries was told to:

Tell the police to stop murdering colored people and stop this riot.

R. J. Thomas, president of the CIO, again told the mayor that the riot was organized by the Ku Klux Klan and other fifth-columnists and demanded immediate action by local, state and federal law enforcement bodies.

On Monday, defense production was cut down to 40% usual capacity. Tuesday morning’s reports said that approximately 80% of war workers had returned to their jobs.

Riots, strikes and lynching

DETROIT, MICHIGAN: 25 dead, 600 injured, 1,300 arrested after 36 hours of rioting.

BEAUMONT, TEXAS: Two killed, scores injured, hundreds of thousands of property damage.

EL PASO, TEXAS: One colored soldier killed, one white soldier injured at Fort Bliss.

MARIANNA, FLORIDA: Mob takes Cellos Harrison from jail and lynches him.

WINSTON-SALEM, NORTH CAROLINA: 3,600 tobacco workers strike for higher pay, better conditions.

PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA: Many colored miners and steelworkers affected by continuing coal strike.

War riots 1917-21

EAST ST. LOUIS, ILLINOIS (May 27-30 – July 1-3, 1917): 39 colored killed, 8 whites. Hundreds of colored wounded and maimed. Cause: Importation of colored laborers from the South. Objection of labor unions to this importation. Use of colored laborers as strike breakers. 312 buildings, 44 railroad cars burned.

HOUSTON, TEXAS (August 23, 1917): 2 colored, 18 whites killed. Cause: Friction between the city police and colored soldiers, especially the colored military soldiers.

CHESTER, PENNSYLVANIA (July 26-28, 1918): 3 colored killed, 5 whites. Cause: Bad political conditions. Influx from South and inflamed sentiment against colored persons.

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA (July 26-29, 1918): 1 colored killed, 3 whites. Cause: Objection to colored persons moving on Ellsworth St.

WASHINGTON, DC (July 19-23, 1919): 3 colored, 4 whites killed. Cause: Alleged attacks on white women.

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS (July 21 – August 2, 1919): 21 colored, 17 whites killed. Injured: 283 colored. Hundreds of homes wrecked and burned. Cause: Whites stoned colored lad swimming at public beach. He drowned.

TULSA, OKLAHOMA (May 31 – June 1, 1921): 21 colored, 10 whites killed.

Nazis gloat over riots

A broadcast from the Nazi-controlled radio in Paris announced Monday night that the Governor of Michigan had proclaimed military law in Detroit.

Steps were taken after violent rioting between white and black workers broke out in factories where 9,000 floormen had gone on strike.

During Monday, eleven workers were killed and over 500 wounded during the riot.

The 6:30 broadcast from Germany, according to the Reuters report from New York, told that district, that citizens of Detroit, well-known U.S. armaments center, were striking against colored residents there. There were some fatal casualties. More than 700 persons were injured. A state of siege was declared in Detroit.

The above is the radio broadcast propaganda which usually follows within a day or so.

Nothing has been heard over the Japanese radio stations yet, but mention is expected shortly.