For the first time since he assumed ownership of Bob-Lo's amusement park in 1949, Todd H. Browning was forced to shut down the attraction in peak season following the 12th Street Riots of July, 1967.
Fearing looting and other damage to the iconic Bob-Lo boats, the Columbia and Ste. Claire were driven from the Detroit dock to Bob-Lo, where they would remain tied up for eight days until the ordeal in Detroit passed.
More concerns about general safety began to be brought up by potential visitors, who began avoiding downtown Detroit in greater numbers and, hence, the Detroit Bob-Lo dock. The other docks in Amherstburg, Gibraltar and Wyandotte continued to do well, but attendance still suffered as a result.
Meanwhile, the riot itself would grab headlines around the nation and world. Its root cause - the raiding of a Blind Pig on 12th & Clairmount - hearkened back to Downriver's darker chapter of the 1920s, although the vandalism, looting and overall crime rate in 1967 was much higher.
On Monday of that week, Downriver mayors, police and fire chiefs met with Wayne County Sheriff Peter Buback; from which each mayor put forth his "State of Public Crisis Emergency" message. An overall curfew would be imposed at 9:00 PM daily until further notice, and it fell under the strictest enforcement in local history. Fines for infractions were expensive for the time; a typical curfew violation could cost up to $110. Liquor of all types was banned from sale for the duration of the proceedings, as were gasoline containers. Guns and ammunition were also barred from sales and holdings, except to police and other licensed law enforcement.
All police personnel were called in to work, some for up to 24 hours straight on the first day. Each department's force had the ability to become a tactical unit in case violence spread south of Detroit. Fire Department equipment from Gibraltar and Wyandotte were shuttled to Detroit to help battle the increasing arsons at 12:00 noon on Sunday. Trenton's forces were on standby alert to tend to any incidents happening Downriver.
Most importantly, a blockade was put into place by the Gibraltar, Trenton and Woodhaven Police Departments, protecting the southernmost cities and townships in Wayne County. This proved to be a wise call, as word had come in that additional youths from the Toledo area were planning to transport north to Detroit to aid in the increased crime. It was feared that such groups might utilize Elizabeth Park as a marshalling point. Such groups did not make their presence known.
It may be noted here that Gibraltar and Grosse Ile possess the ability to shield themselves completely from the mainland. By simply turning the Free Bridge and Toll Bridge halfway around, and by setting up a blockade to prevent access to North, Middle and South Gibraltar Roads, those municipalities were more or less guaranteed maximum protection.
Overall, incidents Downriver were few and far between. A heavier police presence was required at Korvette's in Southgate after a threat was phoned in to the department store on Monday. That night would bring a mild spate of looting and rock-throwing in River Rouge, but that would be quelled by the following morning.
Many witnesses - and local politicians - would say they were impressed by the can-do spirit, as well as the amount and quality of help provided by emergency personnel and everyday citizens during this time. Groups got together to donate necessary food, clothing and other supplies for Detroiters displaced by the arsons and crime. Wyandotte would be the first Downriver community to lift its curfew on Thursday, as they were the only city to have the power to decide that on its own. By the following week, routines Downriver would return to normal.
Perhaps owing to the great response among Downriver communities during the Detroit Riots of the prior year, fifteen mayors would meet in Trenton as part of a Mutual Aid Committee to develop an overall area disaster plan in March, 1968. The bonding of so many local politicans was unprecedented to the public at that time, as the city heads were part of the new Southern Wayne County Mayor's Committee, formed in 1967.