Norm Innocente


Norm Innocente


Norm Innocente recalls his experiences being in the city from Windsor to see the Tigers play the Yankees the day the unrest began.


Detroit Historical Society


Detroit Historical Society, Detroit, MI






In 1967 I was 16 years of age when the Riots began in Detroit, Michigan.  That afternoon my Brother, Leo Innocente, and I attended a Doubleheader at Tiger Stadium.  My Brother was a Lawyer in Windsor at that time and I was going into Grade 11 at a local High School in Windsor in September.  My Brother and I use to take the Tunnel Bus across to Detroit on Sunday afternoons and then walk to the Stadium and then back to the Tunnel.  I remember vividly how the events of that day (July 23rd, 1967) unfolded.  I believe Denny McLain was pitching that day and the Yankees had a great team headed by Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle.  When the second game ended, which was around 6:30 pm, we headed straight down Michigan Avenue by foot towards the Tunnel.  It was still daylight at that time.  The walk is about an hour.  When we finally hit Jefferson we could sense that something was different about the events that unfolded.  This occurred as we made our way past the Mariners Church near the Tunnel.  We heard numerous Fire Engines heading towards the Lodge Freeway, so we new something was occurring that didn't seem normal at that time.  My Brother and I were the last two people on that Tunnel Bus, but we still had no idea what events were about to take place.  When we got back to Windsor, Channel 7 News headed up by Bill Bonds I believe broke the story about the Riots starting that evening.  I was going to a House Party that evening and happen to take Riverside Drive which faces the Detroit Skyline.  We saw numerous fires and it appeared to be near the Post Office area, but it looked as though other fires were occurring.  My vivid recollection of both the Tunnel and Bride being closed to all residents of Windsor.  I watched the riots unfold gfor the entire week by going down to the footsteps of Ouellette Avenue.  Huge crowds would gather as we watched Hellicopters flying above the City of Detroit as well as Armored Tanks going down Jefferson.  Sometimes we heard gunshots in the air.  Little did I know that I was witnessing the Civil Rights movement was occurring before my eyes and the events of Little Rock Arkansas , Linda Brown vs Topeka Board of Education and Rosa Parks Bus incident were all catalyst to what was occurring that week in Detroit Michigan.  I am 64 years of age and now a retired High School Teacher who taught High School Law to my students at Assumption High School which was a Private High School in Windsor, Ontario till 1986.  We use to have numerous Border Students from Michigan live and attend our school.  It was run by the Basilian Fathers who had ties to Private Catholic Schools in Michigan like Detroit Catholic Central.  I later moved onto another Catholic High School in 1990 and taught till 2102.  It was while I taught there that I was able to share my story with my students about what I saw in 1967 and actually was able to get ahold of a Video from detroit PBS about the Detroit Riots.  I am still a huge Detroit Tiger fan as well as Lions Season Ticket Holder and sometimes Detroit Piston Ticket Holder.  I would love to share my story, if you should decide to interview me for your Film.  As a sidenote, the High School that I attended at age sixteen (F.J. Brennan Catholic School) is the same one that I finished my career teaching at.  I taught there for twenty-two years.  

Original Format


Submitter's Name

Norm Innocente

Submission Date





“Norm Innocente,” Detroit Historical Society Oral History Archive, accessed January 17, 2022,

Output Formats