Livernois–Fenkell riot

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Livernois–Fenkell riot
Map of the riot location
DateFriday, August 1, 1975
LocationLivernois Avenue at Chalfonte Avenue, just south of Fenkell Avenue, in Detroit, Michigan
  • Obie Wynn
  • Marian Pyszko [1]
Non-fatal injuries10 injuries

The Livernois–Fenkell riot was a racially motivated riot in the summer of 1975 on Livernois Avenue at Chalfonte Avenue, just south of Fenkell Avenue, in Detroit, Michigan.


The trouble began when Andrew Chinarian, the 39-year-old owner of Bolton's Bar, observed three black youths tampering with his car in the parking lot. He fired a pistol or rifle, fatally wounding 18 year old Obie Wynn.[2] According to some accounts, Wynn was fleeing; according to others, he was approaching Chinarian with what the latter thought was a weapon, it later emerged that Wynn was holding a screwdriver. He died from a gun wound to the back of the head.[3] Crowds gathered and random acts of vandalism, assault, looting and racial fighting along Livernois and Fenkell avenues ensued. Bottles and rocks were thrown at passing cars.[3]

The second fatality was Marian Pyszko, a 54-year-old dishwasher and a Nazi concentration-camp survivor who had emigrated from Poland in 1958.[4] As he drove home from the bakery/candy-factory where he worked, he was pulled from his car by a group of black youths and beaten to death with a piece of concrete.[5][page needed] Ronald Bell Jordan, Raymond Peoples, and Dennis Lindsay were all charged with first-degree murder.[6]

Police were ordered to avoid the use of deadly force, and indeed, not a shot was fired.[5] The crowd of 700 was dispersed by morning. However, angry crowds and violence reappeared the following night – using a car as a battering ram, the crowd stormed and ransacked Bolton's Bar.[3]

Detroit mayor Coleman Young then worked to defuse the situation by appearing in person, along with numerous clergy, at the scene of the disturbance.[7][incomplete short citation] Another key factor was Mayor Young getting every black policeman in the city to police the riot, further defusing the situation.[7]

The damage to property in the Livernois-Fenkell area amounted to tens of thousands of dollars. Fifty-three people were arrested, and ten injuries were recorded (including one firefighter and one police officer). [3]

CBS News reported an unverified claim that the bar served white patrons only, and noted the 25% unemployment rate as an aggravating factor.[8]

See also[edit]