Stop and Search, Detroit
DateJuly 24, 1967
DimensionsMat : 16 x 20 in. (40.64 x 50.8 cm)
Sheet : 8 x 10 in. (20.32 x 25.4 cm)
Credit LineHope College Collection
LabelIn his famous 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. declared, “We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of unspeakable horrors of police brutality.” The long-simmering anger generated by such police brutality finally came to a head in the mid-1960s, sparking major riots in New York City, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Newark, Chicago, Cleveland and many other cities across the US. This photograph depicts a Michigan State Police officer frisking a group of young Black men in Detroit during the infamous 1967 Detroit Uprising. The uprising was ignited after police raided an unlicensed drinking club where a group of African American residents was celebrating the return of two Black soldiers from service in Vietnam. Starting with a few thrown bottles, the uprising turned into four days of street fighting, arson and looting that left 43 people dead, almost 1200 injured, and over 2000 buildings destroyed. To restore order, Michigan Governor George Romney ordered 8000 mainly white state troopers and National Guard soldiers to occupy the city, while President Lyndon Johnson sent in an additional 4700 US Army paratroopers from the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions. Together these forces overwhelmed the protesters and restored civil order without doing anything to address the underlying causes of the unrest. Immediately after the riots ended, President Johnson appointed a special commission led by Illinois Governor Otto Kerner, Jr. to study the causes of the Detroit Uprising and other urban riots. The Kerner Commission issued a 426-page report in 1968 detailing problems of racial prejudice and abuse in American policing, many of which remain unresolved to this day.