Scenes of Devastation

The two main categories of photographs in the "Riots and Protests. Detroit 1967" collection at the Michigan State Archives are laudatory images of Army troopers and National Guardsmen in the military occupation and aerial images of building rubble and property damage in the so-called "riot zone." The following mostly aerial images, taken by photographers employed by the Michigan National Guard, sought to document the devastation caused by African American 'arsonists' and 'rioters.' As snapshots of this historical event, they also operate to criminalize Black Detroit and blame the African American residents of the neighborhoods in question, who are mostly unseen in these photographs but implicitly marked as criminals, for the expensive damage they caused. Note, though, that many photographs include significant automobile traffic and African American pedestrians, indicating the continuation of everyday life during the events of late July 1967. 

These photographs, alongside the mostly staged images on the previous page of National Guardmen defending the city's business establishments against looters, demonstrate that documenting property damage mattered far more than documenting police brutality or the loss of civilian life during the Detroit Riot/Rebellion/Uprising of 1967. The captions in the images below are the captions on the back of each photograph in the collection in the Michigan State Archives, to which the Michigan National Guard donated these historical documents.  

12th St Damage Detroit Riot 1967

12th Street Detroit Riot 1967

8000 Block 12th Detroit Riot 1967

8600 Block Detroit Riot 1967

4500 Grand River Detroit Riot 1967

8600 Linwood Detroit Riot 1967

Linwood, Detroit Riot 1967

12th Street and Linwood Detroit Riot 1967

Grand River and Warren Detroit Riot 1967

Douglas Brewster Housing, Detroit Riot 1967

Aerial Michigan National Guard Detroit 1967

Destruction during Detroit Riot of 1967

Property Damage, Detroit Riot 1967

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