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Detroit was the scene of mob violence against the desegregation of housing throughout its neighborhoods in the 1940s and 1960s. Upon learning that a new homebuyer was black, whites would congregate outside the home picketing, and often breaking windows, committing arson and attacking their new neighbors. In this environment, tensions between the African American community and the mostly white police force ran high.
In 1967, after police broke up a party in an African American neighborhood, rioters looted and destroyed property for five days. National Guardsmen and federal troops patrolled in tanks through the streets in their effort to maintain order. In isolated incidents, some Detroit police officers brought personal weapons into the melee. Residents reported that officers shot at black people before even determining if the suspects were armed or dangerous. Even before the riots were over, a presidential commission was charged with reporting on the reasons for the violence. After five days, 41 people had been killed, hundreds injured and thousands left homeless.