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Detroit Raw by Sam Riddle

Sam and NAN Vets Memorial Day Wreath Lay on Belle Isle Bridge COURTESY PHOTO

Sam and NAN Vets Memorial Day Wreath Lay on Belle Isle Bridge COURTESY PHOTO

Belle Isle: Sacred ground

Special to the Michigan Citizen

Belle Isle is sacred ground not a race track. I know on this weekend — when the might of the Grand Prix, Roger Penske, and profiteers of white privilege roar round and round on the concrete that has replaced the grass, while white environmentalists roar alongside with their silence  — now may not be the best time to spoil the party.

Aided and abetted by Detroit mainstream media that prefers to cover smiling faces than unravel ugly realities, the sheer arrogance of it all is mind boggling.

On Memorial Day, U.S. Military veterans of Michigan’s National Action Network placed flowers at the entrance of the McArthur Bridge of Detroit’s Belle Isle at sunrise to honor Black American World War II veterans who were held hostage on Belle Isle June 20, 1943 when a rabid crowd of racist whites numbering in the thousands blocked the bridge preventing Blacks from leaving Belle Isle.

Rev. Charles Williams Sr., a Vietnam-era veteran and chairman of NAN military veterans said the brutality of June 20, 1943 must never be forgotten. “Black veterans (who) sacrificed so much for our nation fighting in wars abroad have returned to America too many times to find the real battlefield is here in America for human rights,” said Rev. Williams.

1943 Detroit Race Riot victim        COURTESY PHOTO

1943 Detroit Race Riot victim COURTESY PHOTO

As an honorably discharged Vietnam-era veteran and in my capacity as political director, Michigan NAN, I believe Belle Isle and its designated McArthur Bridge should be considered sacred ground. The wholesale slaughter of Black Americans, including some World War II veterans fresh from the battlefield, began on that Detroit bridge  as America failed the most vulnerable of her citizens on June 20, 1943 in what is known as the 1943 Detroit Race Riot.

The suspect lack of clear un-doctored data as to the true number of killings is evidence of an institutionally racist cover-up of historical magnitude as the caretakers of Detroit history have attempted to sweep the Detroit Massacre of 1943 into the Detroit River. We must not allow that.

White power brokers even blamed the Black victims of white rage and Eleanor Roosevelt for the murders that occurred to keep us in our place as white workers walked away from the Packard production line declaring they would rather work alongside the Japanese Emperor and Nazis than work with niggers.

Gentlemen and ladies, start your engines!

We must never let haters cause us to lose hope or dislike ourselves and never let haters make you weak in your faith. Keep the faith. Stay on the battlefield.

Sam Riddle is political director for Michigan National Action Network. Follow him on Facebook at or on Twitter at

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