The nation's civil rights battle broke into violence across the country in the late 1960s as police faced anger and frustration from Watts to Detroit to Milwaukee. President Lyndon B. Johnson, confronted with racial unrest and rioting across the nation, had called for a national day of prayer for July 30, 1967. But before the day came to an end, Milwaukee joined the list of cities that raised the consciousness of Americans to the dangers of racial discrimination and segregation.
As Mayor Henry Maier and Police Chief Harold Breier watched their control over the nation's most segregated city collapse 35 years ago this week, the police radios carried a blow-by-blow account of the bloodiest night in Milwaukee history.
Here is a four-hour glimpse into police and fire activity from 11:35 p.m. July 30 to 3:35 a.m. July 31, taken from reports over police radios.
July 30, 1967
11:35 p.m. Looters entering a Goodyear store at 1815 W. Fond du Lac.
11:42 p.m. Rubbish fire, 2400 N. 3rd St.
11:45 p.m. Get some help at 3rd and LIoyd; the fire's out of control.
11:45 p.m. Rubbish fire extinguished at 3rd and McKinley.
11:46 p.m. Garage fire at 21st and Concordia.
11:50 p.m. They're beginning to loot at 3rd and Brown.
11:51 p.m. We're pulling the beat man out at 3rd and Wright. We're getting nailed pretty hard. Watch out!
11:51 p.m. Unconfirmed report of squad car tipped over.
11:52 p.m. Have Chief Breier call the mayor or his administrator.
11:54 p.m. Kids throwing stones at passing cars on foot bridge over 6th St., just south of North Ave.
11:54 p.m. Notify owner show window broken at appliance store, 3356 N. Green Bay.
11:56 p.m. Man shot at 3rd and Vine. Send ambulance. (Believed to be a looter.)
11:56 p.m. Battalion 2 reported from a fire scene that it needed protection.
11:57 p.m. Crowds out of control at Meinecke and Wright. Looting going on.
11:58 p.m. Businessman trapped in building at 2555 N. 3rd St. Being pummeled by rocks.
July 31, 1967
12:02 a.m. All shotguns being brought down from headquarters and training school. Taken to command post at 4th and Garfield.
12:03 a.m. Fire, 3rd and Meinecke, Martin service station.
12:05 a.m. Fires in alley 2300 block of North 3rd.
12:08 a.m. See if you can raise some ministers.
12:09 a.m. Group breaking into convalescent home at 107 E. Garfield.
12:10 a.m. Box alarm of fire, 5th and Vliet.
12:11 a.m. Sheriff's department advises 50 men standing by waiting for chief's order.
12:15 a.m. No. 5 captain advises that four reverends are one their way to the command post.
12:16 a.m. Burglary in progress at 13th and Burleigh.
12:16 a.m. Merchant's police alarm at 2741 N. Teutonia.
12:17 a.m. Halyard and Lloyd, about 50 youths stoning automobiles.
12:20 a.m. Burglary in progress at 2401 N. 3rd St.
12:24 a.m. Wagonload of patrolmen need helmets.
12:25 a.m. Call for fire department, rear of 2300 N. 3rd St. Also need additional officers.
12:26 a.m. Group going toward Wisconsin Ave.
12:28 a.m. l900 N. Buffum, another fire set.
12:28 a.m. Gang beating a white man at 4th and Wright.
12:28 a.m. Fire at National Food Store, 2354 N. 3rd St.
12:28 a.m. 2741 N. Teutonia. They've smashed windows wide open. Notify the owner.
12:30 a.m. Request Mount Sinai hospital remain open. Keep emergency personnel on.
12:31 a.m. Eight police confronting a crowd of 50 marching toward Wisconsin Ave.
12:32 a.m. Get hold of Sheriff's Department hard helmets and bring them to command post.
12:32 a.m. Cars being set on fire at 16th and Vliet.
12:33 a.m. Fifth District Police station being attacked. (The message was garbled.)
12:35 a.m. They're breaking into Badger Plating, 1300 N. Water.
12:36 a.m. Telephone alarm of fire North 16th and West Vliet.
12:37 a.m. Brinks called. They want to move their trucks from 431 W. Galena at 1 a.m.
12:47 a.m. Report from citizen that they've broken windows at Kaufman Motors at 3rd and Burleigh and they're stealing motorcycles.
12:40 a.m. Firemen report: They're being stoned at 3rd and Clark.
12:40 a.m. About 25 persons are attacking a service station at 3rd and Burleigh.
12:42 a.m. Request for more squads at 15th and Vliet. A crowd is gathering.
12:44 a.m. We need more squads at 3200 N. Green Bay.
12:44 a.m. Third and Burleigh at the motorcycle shop. We've got motorcycles lying in the street.
12:46 a.m. We've got a large group of punks who need some attention at 1301 N. Center.
12:48 a.m. Squad is stuck in sand at 2nd and Meinecke.
12:49 a.m. Check bank at 27th and Vliet. Auto seen fleeing the scene.
12:50 a.m. We have a report of looters in a tavern at 3rd and Green Bay.
12:51 a.m. More looting at Woolworth's at 13th and Vliet.
12:53 a.m. Large group at 12th and Galena with guns and golf clubs.
12:53 a.m. Check injured man at 24th and Lisbon.
12:53 a.m. Large group breaking windows at 13th and Vliet.
12:58 a.m. Telephone alarm of fire at 3rd and Clark.
12:58 a.m. Breaking into Kellers beer depot at 5th and Center.
12:59 a.m. Injured man at 12th and Lloyd.
12:59 a.m. Plankinton and Michigan, numerous lootings in area.
12:59 a.m. Box alarm at 2nd and Chambers.
1:00 a.m. Telephone alarm of fire, 2018 N. 5th St.
1:00 a.m. Looting reported at 21st and Walnut.
1:00 a.m. Group in white Cadillac throwing bricks and rocks at homes in the 2300 block of North 20th.
1:00 a.m. Pedestrian stuck at 24th and Lisbon.
1:03 a.m. Large group congregating at Teutonia and Center.
1:04 a.m. Auto accident at 12th and Lloyd. Passenger injured pretty badly.
1:04 a.m. Burglar alarm, Sangor Drugs, 800 W. North.
1:05 a.m. Reports of shooting at 2nd and Clark.
1:05 a.m. Two white males with rifles in the 2900 block of North 3rd.
1:06 a.m. Check 2nd and Wright. Report of woman being beaten.
1:07 a.m. Pedestrian struck, 24th Place and Lisbon.
1:08 a.m. Report of gas pump burning, 16th and Highland.
1:08 a.m. Report of looting, 12th and Cherry.
1:09 a.m. We have a report of looting at 5th and North.
1:13 a.m. Large group in parking lot with weapons at 2nd and Michigan.
1:13 a.m. Looting at SuperAmerica station, 17th and Atkinson.
1:14 a.m. Groups throwing rocks at 6th and Cherry.
1:14 a.m. Ambulance sent 2nd and Meinecke.
1:15 a.m. Box alarm of fire at 16th and Juneau.
1:16 a.m. They are entering grocery stores at 15th and Vliet and 16th and Cherry.
1:17 a.m. One reduced line (fire hose) working on buildings at 16th and Juneau.
1:22 a.m. Burglar alarm at men's shop, 1200 W. Walnut.
1:25 a.m. Looting at store, 11th and Center.
1:27 a.m. Group of 20 to 30 walking east on Meinecke armed with bottles, bricks and weapons.
1:28 a.m. Looting, Royal Cleaners, 5th and North.
1:30 a.m. Accident, 10th and Ring.
1:31 a.m. Sergeant reports that his group has no shotguns.
1:31 a.m. Large group approaching Teutonia and Center.
1:33 a.m. Fifteen cars loaded with Negroes going west on North Ave.
1:37 a.m. Group of 40 Negroes at 29th and Vliet.
1:38 a.m. Squad at 14th and Walnut has prisoners.
1:39 a.m. They're looting the Kohl's Beverage Center, 3700 N. Teutonia.
1:40 a.m. They're beating a woman at 5th and Wright.
1:41 a.m. Large group of Negroes at jewelry store at 37th and North.
1:42 a.m. Large group of Negroes leaving 37th and North. We have just moved them.
1:43 a.m. Two burglar alarms, 925 W. North and 1400 W. North.
1:44 a.m. People buying cans of gasoline at 35th and Meinecke.
1:45 a.m. Accident at 1st and Meinecke. Large group gathering. Send help.
1:46 a.m. We're closing down all in the 3rd police district.
1:46 a.m. Box alarm for fire at 12th and Garfield.
1:48 a.m. Broken window at 928 W. North. Nobody around.
1:48 a.m. Box alarm fire at 2nd and Hadley.
1:49 a.m. We're standing by at Ken's Gun Shop, 48th and North. Everything is OK here.
1:49 a.m. Check 15th and McKinley. People trapped in an auto.
1:50 a.m. Check a large group armed with bottles at 27th and Wells.
1:51 a.m. Bus driver reports rocks being thrown at buses at 14th and Fond du Lac.
1:51 a.m. Man being beaten at 1st and Meinecke.
1:56 a.m. officer needs assistance at 15th and Center.
1:58 a.m. Send a couple of squads to 3rd and Hadley. They're looting up here.
1:59 a.m. We have shooting from an automobile, vicinity of Buffum and Center.
2:00 a.m. Large fight at 12th and Reservoir.
2:01 a.m. Check for windows being broken, 2500 block of North Downer.
2:02 a.m. We have 25 people following three patrolmen at 14th and Walnut.
2:02 a.m. We need a wagon at 6th and North. We've got a couple of stone throwers.
2:03 a.m. Send ambulance. One dead already. Send ambulance. 134 W. Center. Man shot in head by sniper.
2:05 a.m. Four cars of Negroes at 2nd and Vliet.
2:06 a.m. Truck on fire, 12th and Galena.
2:06 a.m. Another ambulance, 2nd and Center.
2:10 a.m. Window smashed at television store, 27th and Atkinson.
2:10 a.m. Second and Center. Tear gas and ambulance. We're shooting at house.
2:12 a.m. Another ambulance, Second and Center.
2:12 a.m. Sounds of gunshots, 12th and Walnut.
2:12 a.m. Get some tear gas here, Second and Center. We have at least one policeman shot.
2:12 a.m. We need shotguns here at 2nd and Center.
2:13 a.m. We're sending help.
2:13 a.m. Second and Center. Two coppers shot. We're requesting help immediately. Two coppers shot.
2:15 a.m. Request for ambulances to stand by. Fourth and Garfield. Ambulance, 2nd and Center, hurry, hurry.
2:16 a.m. Disregard the ambulance. We're taking the wounded officer ourselves.
2:17 a.m. 1000 N. 3rd St. Camera Shop broken into. We've got the guys.
2:18 a.m. Large fire at 3rd and Center.
2:19 a.m. Notify fire department. Fire bomb at 3rd and Center.
2:20 a.m. Check for five carloads of Negroes at 3rd and Morgan.
2:20 a.m. Large crowd of juveniles gathering at 1st and Wright. Cars are burning.
2:22 a.m. Meet squad at 3rd and State. They are going in after looters.
2:22 a.m. Meet squad at 3rd and Cherry. We've got looters.
2:23 a.m. Negro juveniles with guns at 32nd and McKinley.
2:24 a.m. Looting at beer depot, 23rd and Burleigh.
2:25 a.m. Looting at drug store at 13th and Burleigh.
2:25 a.m. Looting at liquor store, 8th and North.
2:25 a.m. All squads: Close up service stations for the night.
2:29 a.m. Supermarket on fire, 10th and Burleigh.
2:29 a.m. We're pinned down at 2nd and Center (by sniper).
2:38 a.m. Send fire department, 3rd and Center, big blaze.
2:40 a.m. Tell No. 3 squads to stop any roving cars with Negro males. Stop them and check the trunks for guns and contraband.
2:41 a.m. Large fire at 3rd and Center. Fire department unable to get into area.
2:42 a.m. We've got the prisoner. He has been shot.
2:43 a.m. People in the house at 130 Center St.
2:45 a.m. Officer shot in chest or stomach. Taking him to County General hospital. Notify Dr. Worman to be in surgery.
2:47 a.m. Wagon, 130 W. Concordia for looters.
2:47 a.m. People at 130 W. Center St. refuse to answer door.
2:47 a.m. Another fire at 130 W. Center. Can you see it?
2:50 a.m. Battalion 2 reported. We've got two police officers up here. We're not going in until we get an all clear from them.
2:51 a.m. Fire at 1st and Center. Firemen are pinned down by sniper fire.
2:57 a.m. How about the searchlights at 2nd and Center? We're still waiting.
3:02 a.m. Firemen are pinned down by sniper fire at 1st and Center. Searchlights are needed.
3:06 a.m. We need rifle ammo at 2nd and Center.
3:06 a.m. Looting jewelry store at 35th and Lisbon.
3:07 a.m. Advise. Where is sniper? (Answer partly blurred) at 134 W. Center. He may be in there. The whole front of the house is on fire.
3:10 a.m. Large group of Negro males, 26th and Vliet. One is injured.
3:13 a.m. Report of a man shot at 2664-A N. 1st St.
3:16 a.m. Fire department still being held down by snipers at 2nd and Center. Can't get in.
3:20 a.m. Need an ambulance at 1st and Center.
3:21 a.m. Conveying officer to County General Hospital from 2nd and Center.
3:23 a.m. Ten additional men to 1st and Center.
3:30 a.m. Turn in second alarm at fire, 2nd and Center.
3:34 a.m. Stealing cars from a dealer at 3rd and Hadley.
3:35 a.m. We're making numerous arrests of prisoners in cars with guns and contraband.
3:35 a.m. They're looting. Gunshots heard, 5th and Center.
3:35 a.m. Fire in the middle of the street, 1st and Wright.