Interview with John Conyers

Who were the people in the street?


The people that, that were milling around angry and, ah, and, ah, and, ah, belligerent, ah, were my constituents, were people I knew, were friends of mine, were acquaintances and, ah, it was a, it was a mean spirited kind of mood that hung over this. And, ah, I don't know, I don't know what, what, impelled me. There was, someone had a bullhorn and here was a car out in the middle of the street and, ah, I jumped up, I jumped up on it, ah, to make an appeal that we should all disperse, that we're going to get to the bottom of this, ah, that we're on the case and that nothing can be gained, ah, from us just continuing this kind of random attacks on, on our own community. And, ah, you know, it was after I got off I realized that that was a pretty dangerous situation. I mean, people, ah, ah, nobody, ah, said anything to me directly. They were, they was mumbling and grumbling, "Ah, go ahead on." And, "It's too late for that," and, but I didn't get stoned or drug off there, ah, but you could see that there was a, there was a, a murderous tone about this whole thing. It was, it was really, ah, people were letting feelings out that had never been let out before, that had been bottled up. It really wasn't that they were that mad about an after hours place being raided and some people being beat up in, in, as a result of the closing down of that place. It was the whole desperate situation of being Black in Detroit and now, all of a sudden, ah, there was, there was no supervening force. There was nobody on top of you. Everybody looked out in the street, and it was, it was us. It was just us and they were, then, and so this was the kind of mood that accompanied the looting. The looting was a, was a compensatory act. We, we were making up for all this crap. And so, as we found out, occasionally there would be a Black looters and White looters who, ah, would go in and they would all, all be just helping themselves. And, and then of course the whole thing deteriorated to just plain looting and burning.