On the early morning of July 23, 1967, Detroit police raided a welcome-home party for two young Black Vietnam soldiers. At around 3:30 am, a handful of cops attempted to arrest the more than 80 patrons gathering on the corner of 12th Street and Claremount Avenue but needed reinforcements to take away the large number of revelers. As police on the scene awaited backup, an even larger crowd gathered to protest the attempted arrests. When the cops left, some of the angry demonstrators broke into a nearby store, which led to chaos and violence that lasted five days. When the dust finally settled, 43 people were left dead and 7,000 were arrested.

A year later, Demetrius “Big Meech” Flenory was born in Cleveland, Ohio. His parents, Charles and Lucille Flenory, would eventually move to Detroit where his younger brother, Terry, was born in 1972. While Big Meech and Terry weren’t of age to understand what caused the riots, the events of July 1967 would play a pivotal role in their lives and the rise of their notorious narcotics trafficking empire, Black Mafia Family (BMF).

The Detroit riots of 1967 were a watershed moment in the city’s history and for America’s civil rights movements. In response to the unrest, then Michigan Governor George Romney sent in the National Guard and asked President Lyndon B. Johnson to provide federal troops. In the aftermath, Johnson ordered a commission to study the causes of the riot, as it wasn’t an isolated incident in an America rife with racial animus.