The race riots that occurred in the predominantly black Victoria Park neighborhood of Detroit in late July, 1967 are presented. The riots began on July 23 following a raid on an unlicensed after hours black club serving liquor in celebration for just returned black soldiers from the war. The confrontation between the black populace of the neighborhood and police escalated with increasing action on both sides, those actions including burning and looting in the neighborhood on the public side, and the setting of curfews and calling in the National Guard to assist by Michigan Governor George Romney. The movie focuses on a situation on the evening of July 25 in the Algiers Motel, where the authorities, led by the Detroit Police Department, were searching for a supposed sniper firing at the authorities, the motel which should have been a place of sanctuary away from riots happening outside the motel walls. The individuals at the motel that evening include the following. White DPD Officer Phillip Krauss has his own moral stance where he will do whatever required to exact his form of justice, which included the day before mortally shooting a black looter in the back as he was running away unarmed. That incident the day before colors the way Krauss now handles such confrontations. A singular white National Guardman on the scene knows the volatility of the situation based on the patrolmen's actions, but does whatever he can to keep those being interrogated alive while not stepping on the toes of the police. Melvin Dismukes is a black part-time security guard who does whatever he can to diffuse the situation all in an effort for the black populace to survive whatever given situation at the time. Larry 'Cleveland' Reed, the lead singer for the Dramatics, and his friend Fred Temple took refuge at the motel after a gig which could have been the Dramatics big break was canceled at the last minute due to the riots, which left them outside after curfew. Carl Cooper, a resident at the motel, wanted white people to feel the fear black people felt every day at the hands and more specifically guns of the police. Greene, a black man, is a recently decommissioned soldier, who is solely in Detroit trying to find a job. And Julie Ann and Karen are two young white women from Ohio staying at the motel, they who have no issue in partying with the predominantly black residents and other guests at the motel.