A 4-year-old girl is killed inside her apartment, an innocent casualty of Detroit’s worst urban war, after a cigarette lighter is mistaken for hostile gunfire. Not far away a deaf and mute man walks to a bus stop, on his way to work when he, too, falls dead from a bullet – probably never having known he’s been mistaken for a perpetrator amidst the broken glass and nightmarish chaos. Elsewhere in the haze of burning buildings and boiled-over emotion a security guard calls police for help as expectant looters threaten a supermarket; police arrive, but confusion prevails again, leaving one man dead. The security guard.
These are just a few examples of the tragic deaths that resulted from perhaps the ugliest chapter in Detroit’s collective history. Dispelling myths and stereotypes, promoting discussion and understanding of the underlying causes of the July 1967 uprising, often referred to as the “’67 riots,” are among the objectives of a provocative documentary, “Summer ’67,” which premiered fifty years after the tragedy.
“Summer ’67" examines the forty-three lives cut short that tragic week in July, 1967. The story, told through Detroit area reporter Sarah Hulett and Directed by Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Bruce Harper, gets to the heart of one of the most troubling events in Michigan’s history. As we follow Sarah’s journey to find family members of the 43 victims, we discover her personal connection to the events of that summer. “Summer ’67" more than any other documentary gives the audience a clearer view of the 43 victims as people, not fatalities, exploring their lives beyond the newspaper headlines.