Hampton NAACP president reflects on living through 1967 Detroit riots

Posted at 12:24 PM, Jun 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-04 17:31:34-04

HAMPTON, Va. - Outrage is what many people are feeling right now around the country and here in Hampton Roads.

For some, the events unfolding on the news are a reminder of the past.

Hampton NAACP President Gaylene Kanoyton spoke to News 3 about living through the 1967 Riots in Detroit, Michigan, violent encounters between Detroit Police and African Americans.

“I remember hearing shots fired all night long, smelling burning buildings outside. We had to sleep on the floor because there were shots coming through the windows, so what we’re experiencing now is like PTSD for some of us that grew up in the 60s,” Kanoyton said.

She's explained it to her 22-year-old son in the past.

He said now he has a new appreciation for what his mother experienced.

“I remember watching the movie 'Detroit' that came out with her a couple of years ago, and it did make her quite emotional, because she was there. It’s kind of hard to see that and to see it repeated so many years later,” said Michael York, a Richmond resident.

York said he has recently participated in protests in his area, and his car was damaged.

"It’s important to remember that police brutality has to end and these Confederate monuments have to come down, so I’m proud to be part of the activism even through my car was damaged. It’s important that people are speaking up now,” York said.

As President of the NAACP in Hampton, Kanoyton said she is working now to make change.

“Black and brown people shouldn’t be open season to be murdered, especially by the hands of police officers or anyone else, or even to each other,” said Kanoyton.

She said people need to get to know their police departments, understand their rights and make change.

She said the community needs to come together.

“We have to have a solution in place," Kanoyton said.