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Life

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The 1967 Newark riots was one of 159 race riots that swept cities in the United States during the "Long Hot Summer of 1967". This riot occurred in the city of Newark, New Jersey between July 12 and July 17, 1967.

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Over the four days of rioting, looting, and property destruction, 26 people died and hundreds injured.

In the decades leading up to the riots, deindustrialization and suburbanization affected Newark greatly.

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White middle-class citizens left for other towns across North Jersey, in one of the largest examples of white flight in the country. By 1967, Newark was one of the United States' first majority black cities, but was still controlled by white politicians.

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Racial profiling, redlining, and lack of opportunity in education, training, and jobs led the city's African-American residents to feel powerless and disenfranchised. In particular, many felt they had been largely excluded from meaningful political representation and often subjected to police brutality.

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This unrest and social change came to a head when two white Newark police officers, John DeSimone and Vito Pontrelli, arrested a black cab driver, John William Smith on the evening of July 12.

 After signaling, Smith passed the double parked police car, after which he was pursued and pulled over by the officers.

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He was arrested, beaten by the officers and taken to the 4th Police Precinct, where he was charged with assaulting the officers

 and making insulting remarks.

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Residents of Hayes Homes, a large public housing project, saw an incapacitated Smith being dragged into the precinct, and a rumor was started that he had been beaten to death while in police custody. Smith in fact had been released in the custody of his lawyer. The rumor, however, spread quickly, and a large crowd soon formed outside the precinct.

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At this point, accounts vary, with some saying that the crowd threw rocks through the precinct windows and police then rushed outside wearing hard hats and carrying clubs.

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Others say that police rushed out of their station first to confront the crowd, and then they began to throw bricks, bottles, and rocks.

On July 13, a march was organized to protest Smith's beatings and police brutality in the city. During the rally, an unknown woman smashed the windows of the 4th Precinct with a metal bar.

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Looting began soon after and spread quickly along Springfield Avenue, the neighborhood's business district.

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Molotov cocktails were thrown into shops and entire buildings soon caught fire

Next a car was burned and a policeman was injured by a flying brick after which shotguns were issued to some police. By midnight looting was occurring in a wider area, all police were placed on emergency duty and fires were being started. At 1:00 A.M. police were told to "fire if necessary." Within two hours National Guard and state troopers were called out.

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Early in the evening of July 15 a woman named Rebecca Brown was killed in a fusillade of bullets directed at the window of her second floor apartment. This event helped to set off the worst of the fighting.

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By the sixth day, riots, looting, violence, and destruction ultimately left a total of 16 civilians, 8 suspects, a police officer, and a firefighter dead; 353 civilians, 214 suspects, 67 police officers, 55 firefighters, and 38 military personnel injured; and 689 civilians and 811 suspects arrested. Property damage exceeded $10 million.

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#February 

 

 

 

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