The Algiers Motel Incident

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First edition (publ. Knopf)

The Algiers Motel Incident is a 1968 true crime book by John Hersey. The book describes an incident which occurred in Detroit, Michigan on July 25, 1967, during the racially charged 12th Street Riot. At the Algiers Motel, approximately one mile southeast of where the riots began, three civilians, all of them black males, were killed, and nine others, two white females and seven black males, were brutally beaten by members of the Detroit Police Department, the Michigan State Police, and the Michigan Army National Guard, after a report was received that a gunman or group of gunmen had been seen at or near the motel.[1]

Hersey interviewed survivors, members of the victims' families, and some of the law enforcement personnel who participated in the raid, and also consulted forensic reports, in identifying the law enforcement personnel most likely to have been directly involved in the killings. However, none of those actually charged were convicted in subsequent state and federal trials.

Hersey's findings suggest that one of the men was probably killed when law enforcement personnel were first entering the building, and may have been mistaken for an armed rioter in the confusion, but that the other two were selected after the building had been secured and then taken away from the group into separate rooms and murdered.

The now demolished Algiers Motel once stood at the intersection of Woodward Avenue and Virginia Park in the geographic center of Detroit.