29 Days Of Black History – Day 20: Detroit


Release Date:  8/4/17
Genre:   Drama/Based on Actual Events
Rating:  R
Director:  Kathryn Bigelow
Studio(s):  Annapurna Pictures, First Light Production, Page 1
Running Time:  143 mins.

Cast:  John Boyega (Melvin Dismukes), Will Poulter (David Senak), Algee Smith (Larry Reed), Jacob Latimore (Fred Temple), Jason Mitchell (Carl Cooper), Hannah Murray (Julie Ann Hysell), Kaitlyn Dever (Karen Malloy), Jack Reynor (Ronald August), Ben O’Toole (Robert Paille), Anthony Mackie (Karl Greene), Nathan Davis, Jr. (Aubrey Pollard, Jr.), Peyton Alex Smith (Lee Forsythe), Malcolm David Kelley (Michael Clark), Joseph David-Jones (Morris), John Krasinski (Norman Lippitt), Laz Alonso (John Conyers), Ephraim Sykes (Jimmy), Leon Thomas, III (Darryl), Gbenga Akinnagbe (Aubrey Pollard, Sr.), Chris Chalk (Officer Frank), Jeremy Strong (Attorney Lang), Zurin Villanueva (Martha Reeves), Tyler James Williams (Leon), Karen Pittman (Mrs. Dismukes), Samira Wiley (Vanessa).

Details:  Based on the Algiers Motel incident during Detroit’s 1967 12th Street Riot, the film’s release commemorated the 50th anniversary of the event.

Story:   On Sunday, July 23, 1967, the Detroit Police Department stage a raid on an unlicensed club during a celebration for returning black veterans from the Vietnam War. While suspects are being arrested, a mob forms and starts throwing rocks at the officers before looting nearby stores and starting fires, which begins the 12th Street Riot. With the authorities unable to maintain order, the Army National Guard and Army paratroopers are called in to provide assistance. On the second day of rioting, two cops pursue a fleeing looter, one of them shoots and kills the man, but is allowed to remain on duty until his superiors can decide what to do.

The Dramatics, a professional R&B group arrive in Detroit hoping to score a recording contract. Seconds before their scheduled performance at a music hall, the police shut down the venue and order them to leave the city. En route, their bus is attacked by rioters and the group subsequently splits up, with lead singer Larry Reed and his bodyguard Fred Temple renting a room at the local Algiers Motel for the night. They meet two white girls who introduce them to their friends Carl Cooper, Aubrey Pollard, Jr., Michael Clark and Lee Forsythe. Carl Cooper and another friend stage a prank using a starter pistol, upsetting the girls who move to the room of Karl Greene, a Vietnam War veteran, while Larry Reed and Fred Temple return to their own room.

Melvin Dismukes, a private security guard, is assigned to protect a grocery store from looters and ingratiates himself with the Guardsmen. Carl decides to fire several blanks from his pistol in the direction of the troops to frighten them, but they mistake it for a sniper attack and determine that it came from the Algiers due to the pistol’s muzzle flash. Led by David Senak, the Michigan State Police, National Guard, and Detroit Police arrive at the motel to investigate. Entering the building, David Senak kills Carl Cooper when he tries to escape and plants a knife next to his body as he bleeds out and dies.

The police round up everyone in the hotel and line them against the wall, demanding to know who the sniper was. Despite not finding a weapon, David Senak terrorizes and interrogates the occupants of the hotel. Unwilling to get involved, most of the state police and National Guard leave.  Senak orders several suspects to be moved to different rooms and subjected to mock executions in order to terrify the others into confessing. One officer kills Aubrey Pollard, as he did not realize that the executions were supposed to be fake.  Fearing arrest, Senak finally permits them to leave, but only if they swear to keep silent. Karl Greene and Larry Reed agree, but Temple is shot in the chest by the cops after he persists in telling them that he sees a body.

As the riots die down, Dismukes, while working his other job in a factory, is arrested and charged with murder after one of the white girls identifies him as being present at the Algiers that night. His fellow officers are questioned as well and when everyone except David Senak confesses, they are also charged. The judge ultimately refuses to accept any of the confessions as evidence, and without a solid case, the all-white jury acquits Dismukes and his co-defendants of all charges. Dismukes confronts three officers but finds himself powerless to get any justice for the victims.  Source(s):  IMDB; Wikipedia.


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