From the Vault: ‘Six Days in July’ coverage of the Detroit ’67 riots

DETROIT – It’s been nearly 50 years since one of the deadliest and most destructive riots in U.S. history.

This WWJ-TV (which later became WDIV) segment titled "Six Days in July" focuses on the 1967 riots in Detroit and the response from officials and the community.

Ven Marshall and Dick Westerkamp anchor the report, which focuses on Thursday (Day 5) and Friday (Day 6).

'Six Days in July'

Federal troops who had recently returned from Vietnam went from one zone of combat in a foreign land to one in their own land.

Rains came early Thursday which finally brought quiet to the streets of the Motor City. The violence continued later in fairer weather.

National Guardsmen can be seen on 12th Street (Rosa Parks Boulevard) about a mile north of Grand Boulevard where troops were being fired on by several snipers. An armored vehicle travels down a side street in background.

The Superior Beauty and Barber Supply on 12th Street is shown burning down at about 5:30 a.m. Friday.

Firefighters were blocked by sniper activity. They believed the sniper had caused the fire.

The building was destroyed but the residential area behind it was saved by firefighters. Michigan Gov. George Romney wired President Lyndon Johnson asking for assistance:

“The catastrophe which has struck the city of Detroit is a disaster by any reasonable definition of that term. Entire blocks have been leveled by fire and pockets of destruction exist throughout the city. Losses due to fire and looting have been estimated at hundreds of millions of dollars and these estimates may well prove to be conservative...”

Riot aftermath

The public bathhouses on Belle Isle were used as a temporary jail.

The report states that 4,732 people were arrested within six days.

The courts extended hours and additional judges were brought in to hear cases.

Relief agencies were set up across the city and an outpouring of support and donations of food came from all over Metro Detroit.

The segment also covers the funerals of Detroit police officer Jerome Olshove and firefighter Carl Smith of Ladder Company 11.

A total of 43 people were killed in the riots.

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