On July 23, 1967, Detroit police raided an unlicensed club during a holiday for the return of black soldiers from war. While the suspects are arrested, a mafia is formed and begins to throw stones at police officers, and then rob several nearby stores and causes fires, giving birth to the famous Revolution on Street 12. With civil authorities, elected representatives even emergency services incapable of maintaining order, Governor George M. Romney declares urgency.
As a result, he gives permission to the National Guard and the Army to enter Detroit to provide assistance and try to bring peace back to the area. On the second day of the revolt, two policemen follow a suspect together. One of them, Phillip Krauss, mortally hurt the man using a rifle despite the orders he has not done. Even so, he is allowed to remain in duty until the superiors can decide whether to accuse him of killing.
The Dramatics, a R & B group of color members, arrive in Detroit in the hope that they will be able to sign a contract with a record house. A few moments before the trial he was supposed to give, the police closed the record label and ordered them to leave the city. On the way, their bus is attacked by protesters and the group is split; soloist Larry Reed and his friend Fred Temple rent a room at the Algiers Motel where they meet two Caucasian girls named Julie Ann and Karen.