Saginaw man recalls Detroit riots - WNEM TV 5

Saginaw man recalls Detroit riots

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A Mid-Michigan man remembers his experience in Detroit during the 1967 riots - one of the most violent revolts in American history.

Police brutality and segregation fueled the fire that boiled over into the streets of Detroit. The violence and looting were so bad thousands of soldiers were deployed to the city.

A Mid-Michigan man who witnessed the riots said there is still so much to be done to put an end to racism.

"You could feel the heat in the car as we drove to our house," Christopher Wathen said. "Couldn't figure out what was happening, but got home and found out the city had exploded."

One of the most horrific events that transpired during the riots was the shooting and killing of three African American men at the Algiers Motel. It's a crime that still hasn't been solved to this day.

Wathen said that could have been him.

"I was there. A little novice. You know, I'm looking for a party and I'm looking for girls. When I heard Algiers I went 'oh my God, I just left the Algiers,'" Wathen said.

He said ongoing spats between the police and the black community is what led to such an uproar back then. As of now, he said racial tension among the two parties has improved but isn't where it needs to be.

"We have to find a way to get along with each other," Wathen said.

He said this should be a message to Millennials to do the necessary steps that it's going to take to make sure something like that never happens again.

"You got to have a place where you talk. People have to understand relationships and you can't build relationships spitting negative things at each other on Facebook," Wathen said.

Wathen believes with time and effort the community will no longer have racial issues if they work together to eliminate them.

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