Interview with Herb Boyd
Interview with Herb Boyd

Interviewer: Sam Pollard
Production Team: X

Interview Date: September 29, 1989

Camera Rolls: 2165
Sound Rolls: 277

Interview gathered as part of Eyes on the Prize II: America at the Racial Crossroads 1965 to 1985,
Produced by Blackside, Inc.
Housed at the Washington University Film and Media Archive, Henry Hampton Collection.
Editorial Notes:

Preferred citation:
Interview with Herb Boyd, conducted by Blackside, Inc. on September 29, 1989, for Eyes on the Prize II: America at the Racial Crossroads 1965 to 1985. Washington University Libraries, Film and Media Archive, Henry Hampton Collection.

These transcripts contain material that did not appear in the final program. Only text appearing in bold italics was used in the final version of Eyes on the Prize.

INTERVIEW


QUESTION 1
SAM POLLARD:

First question is, We're going back to 1967. How did the police relate to the Black community in Detroit in 1967?

HERB BOYD:

In 1967 you know you had a situation in Detroit where the police was moving into like a Garrison city occupied army situation. It wasn't at all unlike the previous years there when you had the big four out there but it was in a transitional period when the big three was coming into power. This is when they had three uniform cops patrolling the neighborhoods. What I remember mostly is that police brutality was rampant at that time. We had one incident after another. From one end of the city to another people were like being shot down. We had incidents on the East side. There were a couple of incidents on the West side of Detroit at that time and it wasn't unusual to see that the cops coming into neighborhoods and just arbitrarily grabbing people you know without any kind of provocation and slam, slam us up against the wall. Ask us for our identification. Where you going? What you been doing? Any kind of suspicion whatsoever would be 'cause for them to just go ahead and accost you and ask you--show some identification. So it had a kind of an occupied army feel at that time.

QUESTION 2
SAM POLLARD:

Cut. That was good, I just want to ask, yeah, and maybe you should say the big three, yeah. Lets do it again and don't say the big three. You, know you can al--you can talk about the big four, and even if you remember a story about the big four accosting you, or one of your friends it would help--


QUESTION 3
SAM POLLARD:

OK, Herb. How did the police relate to the Black community when you lived in Detroit in the early sixties up to 1967?

HERB BOYD:

Well community relations with the police at that time was very bad. But that wasn't unusual. It had been bad for many years. I'd grown up at the time when the big four was like the force that came in the community. They had pretty much toned down that and turned in to more or less like patrol officers periodically through neighborhoods and randomly accosting people. Slamming you up against the wall. Making you show identification. If you looked at all suspicious then you were a prime target for the police at that time. We had a feeling that it was like a occupied army that was a Garrison city. It was incident after incident all across the city. I mean police brutality was rampant at that time. In lower East side it was a couple of incidents in June la--early July. There was a police brutality case on the West side of Detroit. So all of this was in the air by the time the rebellion was in the wind.



QUESTION 4
SAM POLLARD:

OK, Herb. Tell me a little about I mean the police, the big four for example what were they like?

HERB BOYD:

The big four was like four officers in a police car. One uniform officer that usually normally drove the car and you had three plain(s) clothes officers there. They had license to carry out all kind of brutality. I mean just to say their name was a strike fear into your heart. When they came into your neighborhood everybody would freeze. The big four is coming. Just like they say these days fifty, fifty four said those days with the big four is coming. Everything was cooled out. They would come in and when they just parked somewhere and make their presence known it was enough to cool out a whole neighborhood. So they, they were like recognized for their brutality, they was recognized for kind of force that they would bring. They also they had the kind of a free license you know. They were like the, the, what you call the elite of the police department at that time. And they had the kind of terror and treachery connected with their name to make everybody cool out you know. No activity at all in their neighborhood when the big four came on the scene.

QUESTION 5
SAM POLLARD:

OK cut a second. We want to, to do it again, if you could talk about the big four they were a part in a sense that the police--



QUESTION 6
SAM POLLARD:

Well Herb tell me about the police and they related to the Black community in Detroit and starting with the big four when you were growing up?

HERB BOYD:

Yes they always provided--

QUESTION 7
SAM POLLARD:

Herb include the big four.

HERB BOYD:

Yes the big the big four was what we recognize as being symbolic of the real terror in the intimidating aspects of the police department that would later on be followed up by the invasion of all of these uniformed officers. You see the big four was just one uniform cop in a car with three other plain clothes cops. They had a reputation of taking no crap from nobody. And when you said the big four was in the neighborhood everybody froze. Things were cooled out completely. They were like a harbinger of the kind of Garrison city occupied army that would take place later on in the middle sixties right down to the rebellion of '67.

SAM POLLARD:

OK, cut. We're going to try and do it again. One more time. Lets take a deep breath.


QUESTION 8
SAM POLLARD:

Tell me about the big four and, and from the police in general in Detroit. And start with "When I was growing up in Detroit--"

HERB BOYD:

When I was growing up in Detroit the big four had a reputation as being head whippers incorporated. They didn't take any jive for anybody. When they showed up we said big four we're talking about one uniform officer who was like a chauffeur for three plain clothes officers. When they hit a neighborhood with their big car everything came to a halt. You know that was a kind of first vestige we had of like you know just kind of a ever present police force in our community. Later on it would have like a Garrison city an occupied army flavor with more uniform cops. But the big four was always symbolic of that kind of real brutal terror form. They would grab you, through you up against a wall, ask for you identification, throw you in the car. They didn't take any crap at all. They were notorious.

SAM POLLARD:

Cut, yeah. He just told, a little that morning of 12th street--Lets go


HERB BOYD:

Sure, I think I can recall a few things?

QUESTION 9
SAM POLLARD:

Just tell us how you heard about what was happening on twelfth street? And what did you do? And when you got down there what happened?

HERB BOYD:

It was around ten o'clock in the morning that I first heard about the blind pig raid on twelfth and Clairmount. One of my friends called me up and say he heard this panic in the street. I didn't live to far from that location so I quickly got my sons we jumped into a old Fairlane and headed out for twelfth and Clairmount. On the way down there it was already a lot of motion in the street. I knew something was up. People were running--

SAM POLLARD:

Cut. You was really into a little. You got into it. Let it go. Let it go. Let feeling get into it.

QUESTION 10
SAM POLLARD:

There, we're back in like '67. Tell us about, you know, What happened? How did you hear about twelfth street and what did you do?

HERB BOYD:

It was like about ten o'clock in the morning when I got the word. One of my partners called me up he said man hey Herb it's panic in the street. Let's hit it. Let's roll. So I say OK let me get myself together, grabbed the kids, ran out and jumped in the old Fairlane and headed out to twelfth street. Man everywhere was people going pall mall, helter skelter. I knew something was up. So I said OK let's go on over twelfth street where the thing actually occurred. When we got over there it was like about two or three hundred people had already gathered. Now this is like about eleven thirty in the morning. A Sunday morning you know. So you don't expect that kind of a thing on a Sunday. I don't believe the police department did either. But nonetheless it was people all over the place. And you could feel that there was a tension in the air but at the same time it was a certain kind of exhilaration. You know like hey let's get it on with. Let's go ahead move and do something. And it was like already a couple of stores that been--somebody had thrown a brick or thrown a garbage can or something through one of the windows over there so you can see that if something was in motion that it was something in the air or atmosphere of change and excitement.

SAM POLLARD:

Cut. That was good.


QUESTION 11
SAM POLLARD:

When you were out there on the street Herb I mean and so there're two, three hundred people out on the street on the street. I mean it was the excitement and tension in the air. What did you do then? What was happening? What did you do?

HERB BOYD:

Well well later on now your moving into the afternoon now. Sunday afternoon around three or four o'clock I had moved out of the 12th street/Claremount area over toward McGraw and Grand River where I knew there was an A&P store. So we drove over there. When we got there they had already torn that store apart. Whole big front windows were out. People were going in there throwing things out. I pulled over to the curb, popped the trunk open, my sons and I we got out and we loaded it up with five pounds bags of Domino sugar all the can goods we could gather, closed the trunk and took off. We came back again, when we got back there it was just riddled. I mean most of the food was gone. There was people let's burn this place down now. It was hollering all over the place. Let's torch it. Let's torch it. So they said no don't torch it yet man it's a safe in the back. So these guys went in the back room and found--

SAM POLLARD:

Lets leave the safe out.


QUESTION 12
SAM POLLARD:

So tell me what happened after you ran out there on the street? What did you do then?

HERB BOYD:

Well late Sunday afternoon we arrived over at the A&P store there I knew there would be like a good place to gather up some groceries and everything. By the time we got there the whole front windows had been broken out. People were going in and out of there. Goods were flying out of the window. Sons and I we got out of the car, we loaded up the trunk and we got all the goods out. Hustled on home, dumped that to come back and to get a second load. By the time we got back was as little or no food left. But still up in there again then the cry in the air was let's burn this place down. Let's torch it. This sucker was always ripping us off anyway. You know they never hired many Black people you know it's kind of anger and frustration was in the wind. There were also much discussion about the kind of price gouging that was going on. They always had the prices inflated and everything. We don't care nothing about them. While few of us was trying to stop them from torching 'cause it was still some more food in there to get I think somebody was already moving to put a flame to the place. It was all we could do to stop them because they know that that fire would spread from one building to another. That was the basic concern I had about stopping the fire you know.

SAM POLLARD:

OK, lets cut.


SAM POLLARD:

I want to do it again. I want to you to give me the animated energy you had.



QUESTION 13
SAM POLLARD:

What he say?


QUESTION 14
SAM POLLARD:

OK, Herb what happened that got you out there on twelfth street?

HERB BOYD:

We left twelfth street it was about three o'clock in the afternoon now and so we said well let's go over to the A&P you know because we know that that would be a good place and then groceries and everything is over there. So we drove over to like A&P it was at Grand River-McGraw. When we got there people were all over the place. Going in and out of the store. The front windows had been broken out. People running out with big bags of groceries and everything so we got these five pound bags of Domino sugar and all the can goods we could get and even meats and filled up the trunk, took off, went home, came back for the load up again. By the time we got back though they pretty much had ripped off everything in the store. Now folks were talking about torching the place. "We did got everything in here let's burn this sucker down." You know they were always price gouging and they didn't hire any Black people and a general kind of anger and frustration was in the air. So people said let's burn it. I'm trying to stop them don't burn the place down the flames will go all over the place. It's still some more food in there to get. So they said no, no, no, we're torching this sucker. He was no good, he was a racist, he was a racist dog and so it was all we could do to keep them from not torching the place. We got to keep this place under control. So at that point you know they cooled out they came in with us and we continued to rip off and get the rest of the food that was left there.




QUESTION 15
SAM POLLARD:

OK, Herb what was the feel on the street of the first day of the rebellion. How did people in the community feel. And if you remember anybody talking to you saying, I feel free now, I feel now. The sense, you know, we have for all this stuff. It all go. A sense of we've finally--

HERB BOYD:

OK the revolution is here, the rebellion is here.

QUESTION 16
JUDY RICHARDSON:

The police aren't there yet?

HERB BOYD:

Oh, yeah, there not there yet, they're not there yet.

SAM POLLARD:

The police have left, they're gone.

HERB BOYD:

Mmm.



QUESTION 17
SAM POLLARD:

OK, Herb what was the feel on the street of the first day of the rebellion. When the people in the community with the police being out of the community give me a sense of that?

HERB BOYD:

The feeling in the community at that time because the police was not that present was this wild abandoned--

QUESTION 18
SAM POLLARD:

What was the feel in the street during the first day of the rebellion among the people in the community with the police being out of the community?

HERB BOYD:

Well the feeling in the community at the time with the police not present was wild abandon.


JUDY RICHARDSON:

QUESTION 19
SAM POLLARD:

OK, Herb what was the feel on the street of the first day of the rebellion. When the people in the community with the police being out of the community give me a sense of that?

HERB BOYD:

Well with no police around at that.

QUESTION 20
SAM POLLARD:

The sense--

HERB BOYD:

Time the sense of the feeling in the streets at that time you know with no police present was excitement. You know kind of a festive mood you know freedom and rebellion and everything was in the in the air and the people were running helter skelter the concern there I think was like you know hey the revolution has come. You know things are going to change now. We're in motion. So it was like a really lot of--I got caught up in a whole rush of things. It was helter skelter, folks were just running pall mall. They knew they had to do something. It was a lot of energy in the street that's what I felt.

QUESTION 21
SAM POLLARD:

Give me what that energy meant? How did they look at energy? Let it go? Really let did it go this time. What was the sense out there in the street when the first day with the police out of the community?

HERB BOYD:

Well it was like excitement--

QUESTION 22
SAM POLLARD:

I need you to say "the feeling".

HERB BOYD:

The feeling in the street at that time with no police on the presence. The feeling in the streets at that time was a kind of sense of euphoria you know. A sense of freedom and rebellion. And the kind of excitement that was like touching everybody. Everybody felt like unified that you know the revolution was right around the corner. Because we had been talking about those things in the community anyway. So everybody felt that this was the catalyst. This was the charge. This was the igniter. This is what we've been waiting for. And so it was like a push. A march. People were just gathering all over the place. I got caught up in the pitch of things. At the full excitement. It was exhilarating.

SAM POLLARD:

Great.


QUESTION 23
SAM POLLARD:

I heard the National Guard had been called in and call in the National Guard and they'd come out on the street all these young White men were coming into the city of Detroit. The inner city of Detroit. What happened? What was it? How did things change in the city?

HERB BOYD:

When the National Guard arrived the whole mood, the festive mood like the holiday was over. You know it was like a tone of repression had settled in again as it was before the rebellion was triggered.

SAM POLLARD:

Lets cut a second. You know, I think it would be better if you start off, "I remember, when the National--National Guard was called in. I was driving down the street."


QUESTION 24
SAM POLLARD:

Tell me about how things changed when the National Guard came to the city? Relate that story to me about when you driving down the street that night?

HERB BOYD:

Well I remember driving around the neighborhood that evening when the National Guard had come into the city and the whole holiday mood, the festive kind of gala event was all over. It was just kind of mood of repression had set in similar to what had been in Detroit before the rebellion occurred. So we were driving around we went over on Lasalle Boulevard and we turned the corner there and up the street we saw this whole brigade you know troops were coming and tanks and everything. We quickly changed our path, turned around and went back around the street but when we turned around we heard this hear report you know like fifty caliber machine guns just tearing out all over the place. So we drove around the block and came back the other side. By that time the tanks had moved up the street and we were in back of them so we could up Lasalle Boulevard and see exactly what kind of damage had been done. And you could see like the tank tracks all across the lawns. And you got close to the buildings you could see like the fifty millimeter caliber bullet holes pock mark buildings. The edges indiscriminately sprayed these mansions all up and down the street.

QUESTION 25
SAM POLLARD:

People said it was planned. I mean that there was snipers out there organized snipers. I mean tell me about I mean where did that come from?

HERB BOYD:

I'm not sure where that rumor came from but it was a rumor in the air that it is a invading force had come across the Detroit River from Canada and they were largely responsible for igniting this rebellion. That is this was a plan this was not an spontaneous eruption of frustrated and angered people. That this was a coordinated, very deliberated communistic plot that was going on. That there was spies being sent in. That there was like a revolutionary. These were like armed revolutionaries are going to be stationed around the city and there are going to be snipers shooting at police officers. That word spread all over the community. And I think that forced these the troops to be even more wary so that any little incident if a fire was somebody lit a cigarette in the window it would be enough to like 'cause one of their National Guardsmen to aim his rifle in that direction.

QUESTION 26
SAM POLLARD:

I'm going to cut and ask you that again, and I want you to compress it and see if people though it was, you know a plot--



HERB BOYD:

LaGuardia--


QUESTION 27
SAM POLLARD:

OK, Herb, There was the rumors that the ah, the ah, the rebellion was planned. Tell me a little bit about that?

HERB BOYD:

There was all kind of room-rumors circulating at the time that the spontaneous eruption of the masses of people in there that it was not a spontaneous eruption that it was the masses of people were--excuse me lets do that again--

HERB BOYD:

There was a rumor in the air at that time that, ah, this whole rebellion was a part of a coordinated plot by armed revolutionaries. It was even--somebody said they'd come across the Detroit River this whole invasion they had snipers they had all kind of plans to just continue this rebellion to keep it going and everything. They seemed to deny the fact that this was like the spontaneous eruption of people who had been for generations frustrated and angered and bittered by the racist conditions that prevailed in the community.

SAM POLLARD:

Cut.

JUDY RICHARDSON:

That's great, but ah--

SAM POLLARD:

A little too inflammatory for our show.

HERB BOYD:

Curb your militancy--

QUESTION 28
SAM POLLARD:

People, there was this notion that it was planned. Tell me about that? What it really was?

HERB BOYD:

There was rumors being circulated that this was a plot. That the whole rebellion was a coordinated plot by armed revolutionaries coming into the communities. There was even a rumor being circulating that they were coming across the Detroit River to invade the community. That they once this thing was in motion they were going to make sure it continued. In other words that it would deny the fact that you had in that community for a number of years a general frustration of the people. I mean looking at unemployment, looking at the kind of you know the housing was bad at that time. Police brutality was all over the place. People were like virtually starving. There were no you know prices were sky high. So I mean that was what the eruption was all about. It was no coordinated plot as far as we could see. Although that rumor was circulated.

SAM POLLARD:

Lets Cut.


QUESTION 29
SAM POLLARD:

When did you get a sense that the rebellion was ending and what do you think caused it to stop?

HERB BOYD:

I think the presence--I think what was the final thing in ending the rebellion there, I think it was the presence of the National Guard in full force along with a presence of police officers in the community. Once the curfew was established and this military and the police were all over the place, it pretty much put an end to things there. I mean the looting was all over by Wednesday I think of that week. Thursday it was pretty much cooled out, I think they began to move out on Thursday of that week although the curfew stayed in effect all the way till the first of august.

QUESTION 30
SAM POLLARD:

I want you to give me an answer again, what did members of the community realize, what did you realize as a member of the community with this kind of force the direction that you should go into?

HERB BOYD:

Ah, well at that time--

QUESTION 31
SAM POLLARD:

Lets go back, when did you think that the rebellion had ended?

HERB BOYD:

OK, I thought it was all over by Wednesday of that week, ah, clearly with the presence of a number of national guardsmen and police force now was like reinforced you might say in the community, the looting was over, ah the curfew was in effect. So the motion in the street that had been cooled out. So that's when I had a feeling that everything was all over, then it was time to maybe direct all of our energies kind of the frustration and anger to some very positive concerns. It was like foolish and ridiculous to go out there think that we could go out and do anything with that kind of armed presence, that kind of garrison, that kind of occupation in our community.


QUESTION 32
SAM POLLARD:

When did you see the rebellion ending, and what do you think caused it to stop, and what direction did you and other people in the community decide you should take?

HERB BOYD:

I believe and felt that by Wednesday of that week that the rebellion was pretty much cooled out that they had put a cap on things, that um clearly the presence of a large number of national guardsmen and federal troops along with a bolstered police department, they had the armed presence out there so the looting was over, the curfew had been put into effect, there was no motion in the street at that time. My concern at that point was that we begin to take our anger and frustration and channel it in some positive, towards some very positive objectives and goals. One of the things that we did in that committee was began to say how do we restore our the community. Once this here armed presence has been removed, ah so we say political organizations and certain kind of getting our neighborhood, establishing police community relations, those are some of the things that a number of us in the neighborhood began to think about. Ah, by thursday of that week it was certainly true then, by August the first the curfew was over, we're back in motion again.


QUESTION 33
SAM POLLARD:

When did the rebellion stop and what do you think it was important for the community to do when it did stop?

HERB BOYD:

By Wednesday of that week I thought that the rebellion had pretty much run it's course--

HERB BOYD:

By Wednesday of that week I thought that the rebellion had pretty much run it's course. It had kind of run out of steam, armed forces, the federal troops, the National Guard, the police, reinforced cops had pretty much put a cap on things: that was about Wednesday of that week. I felt it was just be futile to be out there in the streets. I mean the curfew had been enforced so it was kind of limited activity in the street. It was pointless and stupid to be talking about being out looting any further. Pretty much all the stores had been ripped off anyway, but that kind of armed presence was enough to stifle all kind of activity and the possibility of further insurrection. The other concern I felt at that time was that we begin to channel--personally I would have to channel--this anger and frustration toward more constructive, more positive goals. That we begin to organize this community that we begin to do something about the kind of continu--we know that the armed resistance was gone, that some of these same factors would become back into force again: we'd have to deal with unemployment, we'd have to deal with the kind of price gouging that was going on, the kind of question of housing in our community, so it was now time to organize, time to rebuild our community.

QUESTION 34
SAM POLLARD:

Tell us about the Blind Pig incident: what you had heard about it.

HERB BOYD:

Well the. what we should understand is that there was a number of raids at that time on the Blind Pigs, you know the one at 12th and Clairmount was the one that supposedly triggered the whole rebellion, but there were a number of other raids on Blind Pigs that week, that was the fifth one. They went in with the hope of making a real catch in terms of people who were in--gamblers--were selling liquor illegal liquor after hours and what have you. So they figured they'd get 25 or 30 people. But when they got there what they discovered was a smaller number of people, I think it was 12 people there. Ironically it was a party being given for two returning Vietnam Veterans, that's why those people had gathered there for that activity that evening. So they was somewhat disgusted, and I think that kind of anger and frustration on their part and not really getting what they were going after might have like incensed them, and really lead to all of the kind of police brutality that sprang out of that incident that brought all those people to the street after that.


QUESTION 35
SAM POLLARD:

OK, Herb tell us about the blind pig incident.

HERB BOYD:

The raid on the blind pig at 12th and Clairmount supposedly triggered the whole rebellion of '67. Well that was the fifth raid they had carried out that week. They had hit four other blind pigs during that week--

HERB BOYD:

That was the--that blind pig raid that occurred at 12th and Clairmount supposedly triggering the '67 rebellion was the fifth blind pig raid that had that week. When I got my call at 11 o'clock that morning there was already two or three hundred people like milling in the street, you could see the feeling of intensity, of anger that was building up because apparently someone had been arrested. Some woman cried out to me that her sister-in-law had been hit by a police officer, and it's the same old police brutality that we've been getting these all these many months and over the last couple of years. So it was like this anger that was building up in the street when I arrived on the scene and even more people had arrived.

SAM POLLARD:

Lets cut.



QUESTION 36
SAM POLLARD:

Tell us that story again, you roll that story, and we're recasting it now. Later in the day, you went by this A&P and you saw--

HERB BOYD:

After we left 12th and Clairmount, we went over to the A&P at McGraw and River. When we got there they'd already torn out the big picture window, I mean someone had thrown a can shattered all over the place, people were going in and out of the store, carrying all kinds of good. This went on for oh, a half an hour, I'm watching all this activity go on. So after they had gathered up all the food that they could there was a cry "torch the place, lets burn it down." Well then I say--I got involved at that point--and saying "look we should not be burning this place, place down, this fire will catch on," because there are a lot of adjoining buildings to the A&P, that means the fire will go all up and down this block, as it had done all on the west side where nine homes had went up once they had torched a gas station over there. So it was an concern about burning down any building because a fire would spread all over the place. I finally was able to convince two or three of their people who I felt was the ring leaders in that and wanted to torch the store. I said look here put the torch down. Get all the food you want. But don't burn down this building. So they backed off and continued to loot the place.

QUESTION 37
SAM POLLARD:

I want you to do it again--I want you to tell me the fact that you got in there and you tried to talk to people but they were they didn't want to listen because--

HERB BOYD:

Pick it up at that point?

SAM POLLARD:

No, start over.

HERB BOYD:

So we arrived over at the A&P later that afternoon they had already broke out all the windows there. People were going in. Pal Mal. Helter Skelter. Gathering up all the goods that they could. So this went on for about a half an hour. Like heavy, heavy looting. More and more people were coming out of all over the neighborhood. So after about an half an hour there was a cry in the air of let's burn this place down. This guy you know was always you know the manager of the store he didn't hire any Black people over here. The prices were sky high. You know he always had this general kind of disgust for us. So they say so well let's burn it on down. Because he didn't mean anything to us anyway we got all of the food out of here will need. So after they I tried to jump in at that point and said hey look if you torch this place the fire's going to spread all over the place. So after about two or three minutes I was able to prevail they say OK cool well we're going to go back and clean up the place and get the rest of the food that was left over in the store.


QUESTION 38
SAM POLLARD:

OK, Herb did you think the rebellion in Detroit was a way to make a change happen in that city?

HERB BOYD:

At the time that it was going on I felt like a number of my friends that the revolution was just around the corner. Being politically active at that time I most hooked up with a number of folks out there we'd been in the street organizing for a number of months. This was nothing new for us. In fact many of us was looking for and waiting for an opportunity to have that kind of--have the masses in motion because then we could jump in there and maybe begin to challenge and direct them toward some of their objectives, political objectives that we had you know in terms of organizations I was involved in. And we had police brutality, we had concerns about that. We had concerns about organizing against the grocers. We had a concern about just the general unemployment picture that was in the city of Detroit. And certainly police brutality was high on our agenda because there had been several incidences leading up to the July situation of '67. So that was nothing new for me. We felt very good about it. We felt that was a part of the process of change.

SAM POLLARD:

Thats good Good. Did you ?



QUESTION 39
SAM POLLARD:

HERB BOYD:

Well as we say hindsight is 20/20. And after--in the midst of all the rebellion you hope for the best. This would like put some pressure on the various city officials. That this would bring about some notice to the kind of neglect they ignored the Black community all these years. This was an opportunity to get their attention and focus on some of the needs and demands that we had in that community. So after it was all over and looking at forty three people killed and looking at the devastation that we had done to our own communities and everything I just felt that, ah, it didn't really have the over all impact that I wanted it to have. I think that some of the constructive things that did grow out of it in view of my personal development and becoming more politically active I'll been taking and challenging the frustration toward taking it to the college campuses as we did at that time. Into the union movements all of those things was an outgrowth of the '67 rebellion. We can't lose sight of that cause Black studies departments at the various colleges around there all grew out of that. The union movements that developed inside of those plants all came out of the '67 rebellion. A number of community organizations that was created at that time all were a result of the '67 rebellion. So in a sense it had some very positive contributions in terms of organizing, and raising the conscious, political conscious of the community. I think it had those kind of constructive ends.



QUESTION 40
SAM POLLARD:

Tell me the story again about driving down the street that night and then you saw a National Guard?

HERB BOYD:

It was like the Monday evening--

HERB BOYD:

It was Monday evening when I was driving around the community where I lived went over on Lasalle Boulevard and we were driving up the street there and coming directly at us was a whole convoy of troops with some tanks up front. I say that's a sign for us to turn around. We turned around and went back up the other street. In about fifteen, twenty seconds later we heard these large, loud reports coming from like fifty millimeter machine guns. You know having been in the service I can recognize that sound. So we drove around the block came all the way down Lynwood come up the street and then in back of this convoy now and when we drove up the street we could see what we left behind was like tank tracks going across the lawns and the whole--this mansion was just pock marked with bullet holes where they had just indiscriminately sprayed the whole building there. They attempted demolished the whole mansion.

SAM POLLARD:

OK, Herb. I want you to do it again--



QUESTION 41
SAM POLLARD:

OK, Herb--Tell us that story again about that night you were driving down the street and you saw a National Guard. And the reports I mean the fire--

HERB BOYD:

Yes, This was like Monday evening day after the riots had began. We were driving down Lasalle and coming at us was a whole convoy of troops headed up by a couple of tanks. So we immediately turned and went back up the street. About fifteen, twenty seconds after we turned around we heard this large I mean it was like huge fire I mean gunfire. Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. So we continued on around the block. And said we'd go down a couple of blocks and come up in back of the convoy to see--to find out what had happened 'cause we certainly didn't we didn't want to go back the way we had come. So we went all the way around in back of them and we were coming up the street to see what kind of things had that had happened when we heard the gunfire. We got up the street there this mansion first of all you could see the tank tracks all across the lawn and then we got close up to the mansion you could see like the building was completely pocked marked. Indiscriminately this fifty caliber gun had just torn all the windows out and there was this gun holes all over the building and we just drove on off after that.

SAM POLLARD:

OK, lets cut. Thats good for me.

QUESTION 42
INTERVIEWER:

What about helicopters and of that kind of stories?

HERB BOYD:

They were definitely hovering over the scene at that time. Yeah. Yeah. And at night it was particularly you know all right because they would have the spotlights and they would come in and you could see these lights shining they would shine right down into your windows you know it's kind of like you know it's kind of alien it was kind of an alien invasion. You know you see copters coming in at night and these lights screaming out of nowhere. That chopped sound and then immediately whenever any kind of a sniper rumor that's when they would move into action to kind of flow floodlights on that whole area so they could isolate the snipers. It was particularly ominous at night.

QUESTION 43
SAM POLLARD:

Lets do it--Give me the introduction when there was a rumor or a snipers the helicopters would come hovering around the whole thing about you know it's like alien.


QUESTION 44
SAM POLLARD:

Tell me about when the snipers came in what did the federal troops or the National Guards what did they do?

HERB BOYD:

Well in the evenings when there were reports of a rumors that there were sniping the neighborhood then the first thing you would hear is like this ominous sound in the air of helicopters coming in. Like a alien force invading the neighborhood. Spotlights would come out so they could light up the whole area so they could light up the whole area so they could isolate that sniper. Then the ground forces would move in and set up so and kind of cordon off the neighborhood so they could surround the whole building. So the copters you know hovering over the spotlights coming down, the troops on the ground it was a very ominous kind of feeling in the community at that time.

QUESTION 45
SAM POLLARD:

OK, do it again, and this time if you could finish up the answer there was this rumor of snipers but it wasn't it wasn't.



QUESTION 46
SAM POLLARD:

That ominous feeling that you gave before. What happened when there were rumors of snipers?

HERB BOYD:

There was like always throughout the four or five days of the rebellion there was rumors in the air about snipers being present in the community. Unfounded. All of them unfounded. But when ever they felt that there was a sniper in one of the buildings particularly in the evenings the helicopters would come in they would hover over that particular location, spotlights would stream down on it they would also be coordinated with troops moving on the grounds they would surround that whole thing, cordon off the neighborhood they had a very ominous feeling in the air when that occurred.

QUESTION 47
SAM POLLARD:

Cut. What I wantyou to do is give me the story and then take it to the next level and say--this rumor--



QUESTION 48
SAM POLLARD:

OK, Tell me about the rumors of snipers and what would happen with when the helicopters would come in?

HERB BOYD:

Well throughout the four or five days of the rebellion it was like all kind of rumors in the air about you know invading army that is armed rebellion that was going on it was coordinated and it was all kinds of plots in the air. And snipers rumors of snipers all over the place particularly in the evening you know when there was a report of a sniper being in a particular location the helicopters would hover in, their spotlights would stream down on the location, the troops on the ground would be coordinated to come in cordon off the neighborhood and they figured they would have this here poor little old sniper isolated. In many incidences it was like a false alarm you know. There was no, no snipers available. They were really dealing with a kind of anger and the frustration at a community that's what was really on the agenda.

SAM POLLARD:

OK, cut. OK. One more Herb, One more.



QUESTION 49
SAM POLLARD:

Tell me the story about the rumors and the helicopters what the federal troops and the police thought was happening in the city?

HERB BOYD:

Well throughout the four or five days of the rebellion there were reports, rumors, that there were snipers all over the place. You know that this was kind of an armed plot that we were going to take over the community and what have you. Whenever there was rumor or report that there was a sniper in a particular location you would have like a helicopters would be called in they would hover over that location their spotlights would stream down in order to throw light all over that area. It would be coordinated with the ground forces. They would move in cordon off the neighborhood and were prepared to just tear that place apart. These were the kind of rumors that were circulated so often they were like ill founded. There was no sniper available there. They had been--it was a false alarm but they were so trigger happy that even a little sign of living life there they would open fire on the place and so a lot of innocent people were killed you know because they would be hovering down as a result of being called in like this you see.

SAM POLLARD:

OK, Cut. I think that's a wrap