Detroit Riot Timeline
Sunday - July 23
3:45 a.m. Detroit police "clean-up squad" raid a blind pig housed at Economy Printing, 12th Street/Clairmount.
Angry crowd of locals begins to form outside, eventually numbering some 250 people.
4:05 First paddy wagon loaded and departs for 10th Precinct.
5:00 D.P.D. departs with last prisoners under hail of projectiles.
5:05 Mob flows down street breaking windows. When police do not reappear, looting begins.
5:06 Tenth Precinct's Lt. Raymond Good investigates complaint of "burglar alarms going off on 12th Street."
5:11 Lt. Good arrives at Economy Printing and witnesses swarms of crazed people. When he exists the cruiser to get a better look he is hit with a brick. Good radios all cruisers to stay out of area in hopes that rioters will cool down faster without a inflaming police presence. Total police strength available: 15 lieutenants, 28 Sergeants
and 312 Patrolmen of which 193 are on the streets.
5:20 Police Commissioner Girardin notified there is a flare up on 12th Street. Girardin notifies Mayor Cavanagh.
6:00 Detroit police begin calling in off duty officers. Strength bolstered to 369 men but only 43 committed to riot area.
7:50 Detroit police Commandos conduct sweep of 12th Street but proves ineffectual. At least 3,000 rioters present.
8:24 First fire is started. Detroit Fire Department arrives and extinguishes fire without incident.
All police leaves cancelled. Twelve hour shifts ordered.
9:00 Crowd on 12th Street now between 8,000 – 10,000.
9:33 Black community leaders attempt to calm thousands of rioters on 12th Street and are stoned in return.
10:00 Police strength now 1,122 men, approx 1/4 of department. Of these, 540 sent to riot area, 108 attempting to cordon
off streets entering riot area.
10:30 Police now find themselves under a barrage of bottles/stones.
Character of riot is changing from carnival atmosphere to violence.
1:00 Fire Department returns to fight more fires but this time are stoned.
3:30 p.m. Fires raging on 12th Street. Three hundred-sixty Michigan State Police arrive. Looting begins on Linwood.
4:00 Turning point of riot: riot now spreads west to adjacent Linwood, Dexter and Grand River. Twelfth Street given up for lost.
4:20 Mayor Cavanagh calls governor to request National Guard.
5:25 First reports of looting on Grand River.
First contingent of Guardsmen arrive at staging area (Central High School on Linwood).
Main body of National Guard is on annual two week training in Grayling, 200 miles away.
5:33 Riot spreads to Oakland and Joy roads. 6:00 Riot spreads to 14th Street and West Grand Blvd.
6:31 Police at Grand River and Joy radio that situation is “out of control.”
6:57 Governor Romney officially authorizes use of National Guard which
now begin to appear on streets of Detroit from staging area.
9:07 First report of sniper fire on Seward (at Police helicopter).
9:37 First report of sniper fire at fireman.
10:35 Riot spreads to east side, Kercheval, Pennsylvania, Mt. Elliott and Mack area.
Monday – July 24
12:15 Detroit Fire Chief Charles Quinlan requests suburban assistance after fighting 300 fires on Sunday, forty of which are still raging. Detroit will celebrate this its 266th birthday with the most arsons any city has ever seen.
12:25 a.m First riot fatality, white store owner shoots white looter.
Looting is wide spread throughout city.
1:33 Police log: “Dexter & Davidson - entire block on fire.”
3:00 Cavanagh and Romney contact Washington and request federal troops.
9:00 Cavanagh and Romney renew request for federal troops.
12:00 p.m President Johnson authorizes federal troops to Detroit but sends
Cyrus Vance ahead to determine if troops are really necessary.
3:50 Federal troops land at Selfridge Air Force Base but are ordered not to disembark. Johnson hopes riot will subside before they have to be committed. Until then, 5,000 Guardsmen and police patrol both East and West sides of the city. The police arrested 2,931 people on Monday and seventeen of the riots forty-three dead would meet their maker on this day.
Tuesday - July 25
12:00 a.m. President Johnson goes on TV to rationalize his decision to send U.S. Troops into Detroit and cites Romney’s “inability to restore order” seven times. For the next three hours the snipers unleash a barrage of
attacks across the city on unsuspecting targets.
12:20 Detroit fireman Carl Smith shot and killed by sniper.
1:10 U.S. Army begins deploying on Detroit’s East side. Guardsmen move to hellish West side.
3:30 Detroit police officer Jerome Olshove shot and killed by a looter.
Wednesday - July 26
1:00 a.m. Three black teenagers found dead of gunshot wounds at Algiers Motel. Originally thought to have been sniper
victims, suspicion is quickly cast upon Detroit Police Department. Fallout from this incident will be
a source of consternation in the city for years to come.
The sniper finale gets under way on the west side as a hail of bullets whistle through the night air.
Thursday - July 27
State police are withdrawn from city as hostilities lessen.
Friday – July 28
Largest riot in nation’s history is over. Thousands of sightseers are bumper to bumper in the riot areas, anxious
to marvel at the wounded city.
Saturday – July 29
As the week draws to a close, the last shooting fatality is recorded. Nineteen-year-old Ernest Roquemore is killed by a paratrooper who was aiming at a fleeing felon. Roquemore inadvertently crossed into the line of fire.
Sunday - July 30
U.S. Army musters out of Detroit; Guardsmen leave the following weekend.
Dead: 43 (10 white / 33 black)
Damage to buildings: $50-75 million ($365 - 550 million today)
Damage to city: Incalculable