June 21, 1943

Martial Law Declared as 20 Are Dead

DETROIT, Mich.— Governor Harry Kelly of Michigan declared martial law at 10 o’clock tonight, Eastern War Time, in response to race rioting that began late last night. The number of dead has reached twenty, over three hundred have been injured, and three hundred have been arrested. The disturbances have been occurring in a three-square-mile area of predominantly Negro population. On the outskirts of that area, groups of whites have been poised, ready to attack any passing Negros, despite police efforts to break up these crowds. The rioting is believe to have started in part due to reports circulating through the Negro community that a Negro woman and her child were killed yesterday on Belle Isle, a popular recreational location in the Detroit River. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People asserts outside influences are at the root and today asked President Roosevelt to appeal to Americans to “resist axis and other propaganda.”  In recent months, minor racial incidents and strikes over race conditions in factories have occurred, which R.J. Thomas, president of the United Auto Workers, says he has “…absolute evidence…was promoted by ‘agents of the Ku Klux Klan acting for the enemy’.” The Ku Klux Klan denies any involvement.

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