1963 Kendal Street Riot

While the 1967 Detroit uprising is much more commonly discussed, in 1963, Dearborn had a riot. A group of Dearborn residents saw Black people moving furniture into a house, and assumed the house had been sold to a Black family. Over the course of the next 29 hours, 400 of Dearborn's white residents riotously destroyed property in their own community; all in response to the possibility of Black homeownership. The police did not intervene. Upon being made aware of the situation, Dearborn Mayor Hubbard agreed with the decision to remove the police and not interfere with the event.

Newspaper Article Describing the Riot, its Causes and Consequences

From the Dearborn Press and Guide, Special Issue on Mayor Hubbard

Article transcription: In the early summer of 1963, racial tensions began to build as the Detroit Chapter of the NAACP organized a march into Dearborn which ended at the steps of City Hall.

Leaders of the march vowed to integrate Dearborn as thousands of residents anxiously watched and listened.

THE SITUATION remained quiet until Labor Day, when residents spotted several black people moving furniture into an upper flat at 7227 Kendal.

What actually happened was that the owner of the home, Guiseppe Stanzione, had leased the upper flat to a white couple who had hired a black moving firm from Detroit to transport their belongings.

But what residents in the area saw were black people moving into their all-white neighborhood. What they saw was the threat of the early summer march turning into action on their block.

A RESTLESS and angry crowed gathered around the house, intent on stopping the integration of their neighborhood.

Stanzione explained that he actually rented the flat to whiets, but the crowd was in no mood to be pacified. Stanizone was pelted with stones and eggs, while the movers, fearful for their safety, fled the area.

Police Chief Garrison Clayton and Public Safety Director, George Lewis arrived with uniformed police to quell the disturbance. While Lewis attempted to calm the violent crowd, Clayton ordered his police to leave.

ORVILLE HUBBARD was relaxing at Camp Dearborn that day, sitting beneath an umbrella table at the canteen. Lewis reached Hubbard by phone, reported the incident, and the measures the police department was taking. Hubbard agreed with the action.

The crowd grew larger and more rowdy as it vandalized Stanzione's house, smashing windows and throwing debris. Several people gathered around Stanzione's Cadillac convertible, poured sugar into the gas tank and ripped the top.

The violence was finally halted when Stanzione's attorney arrived with the deed the house and proved that the home had not been sold to blacks.

TWO LAWSUITS came out of the Kendal Street Incident. One was a private suite filed by Stanzione against Hubbard, Lewis and Clayton for $250,000 in physical and mental injuries and damages. Stanzione charged that police officials had failed to live up to their duty to protect him as a citizen.

An FBI investigation resulted in Federal charges brought against Lewis and Clayton. Two months later, Hubbard was also indicted when it was learned that he was aware and agreed with the inaction by his police department.

Hubbard went into hiding, flying to Boston "to inspect some libraries in preparation for planning Dearborn's Henry Ford Centennial Library."

HE RETURNED to the city and hid at a friend's home. The marquis in front of Dearborn's Holiday Inn asked, "Mayor Hubbard, where are you?"

Five days later, Hubbard came out of hiding, was promptly arrested and placed under $5,000 bail. The trial lasted several weeks, and after two days of deliberation the jury found all three defendants not guilty.

The private lawsuit was settled out of course when Hubbard agreed to pay $4,500 to Stanzione for damages.

In 1965 Civil Rights groups brought suit against Hubbard for his choice to not respond to the incident. In response, Mayor Hubbard set up a fund to pay his legal expenses. The notes included with these donations indicate that white supremacist groups recognized Mayor Hubbard as a champion of segregation and white supremacy.

Contrast to Hubbard's Response to 1967 Uprising in Detroit

In 1967, Black Detroit residents took to the streets in response to racial injustice, segregation, and police brutality. In contrast to his non-response to the Kendal Street Riot, Mayor Hubbard Instructed police to "shoot looters on sight". The contrast between the mayor's response to white people rioting to keep their neighborhood segregated, and Black people rising up against segregation is stark and notable. Additionally, the community's response to the two incidents is detailed. While the community joined in the Kendal Street Riot, just four years later the same white residents of Dearborn find themselves sitting on their porches, brandishing firearms.

View the full July 27 1967 newspaper printing, made digitally available through the Dearborn Historical Museum.