12th and Atkinson – 1952 & 1967

Pearl seems to be wondering what that boy is doing.

Here we have my sister Pearl swinging in 1953. This playground was two blocks down from our house, the parsonage on Atkinson. My father’s church was across the street. Right outside the playground was the building where the 1967 Detroit rebellion began  after police raided and arrested people attending a welcome home party for a returning Vietnam veteran.

Armed, standing across from Economy Printing. You can see the playground. 1967.
Me on the far left watching and waiting my turn at the playground water fountain. 1952.

You can see Economy Printing on the far left. The playground is right next to it. The rebellion was in full swing here.

Funeral for Tayna Blanding, four year old, was killed as a hail of police and National Guard bullets swept an apartment building where she huddled on the floor. Officials said the flare of a match used to light a cigarette was mistaken for the flash of a sniper’s gun.  It was held at my father’s church, then Central United Church of Christ, later Shrine of the Black Madonna.
The playground as it appears on Google today. A swing set seems to be in the same place.

Related posts

My Riot Journal
Rebellions Make Strange Leaders
“A” Is for Atkinson

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9 thoughts on “12th and Atkinson – 1952 & 1967

  1. Swell place for a rebellion – right next to a children’s playground! But I suppose folks didn’t think of that at the emotional moment. You didn’t say what actually caused the rebellion to begin – other than to say police raided a welcome home gathering for a returning Vietnam vet? I know Detroit has had its problems with police. Any reason for them to do what they did, or were they (the police) just out to cause trouble?

    1. There were no children at the playground during the riot. The police raided it as an after hours joint. People in the area got mad. It was an event that triggered the anger people already had about police brutality and abuse and it ballooned into the 1967 rebellion.

  2. This says so much about the ongoing (will it never end!) misuse of power, and misunderstandings leading to violence. And the juxtaposition of the playground to the rebellion reminds me of the recently remembered deaths at Sandy Hook school. I’m glad that no children were involved in the Detroit rebellion directly. Thank you for showing how this happened to a peaceful street.

    1. It started on Sunday morning about 3 AM. Four year old Tanya Blanding was shot and killed while laying on the floor in her house when soldiers shot up the house after her uncle lit a cigarette and they thought it was a sniper. Although it didn’t happen at the playground, I have added an AP photo of the little casket being put into the hearse.

  3. I liked the way you linked innocent children’s pleasures, with the location of the playground in a brutal event of recent local history.

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