In 1967, the police beating of a Black cab driver named John Smith in Newark ignited one of the most important urban uprisings in modern U.S. history, sparking over 100 more race riots around the country including the largest insurgency in Detroit on July 25th.
The People’s Organization For Progress (POP) will have a 1967 Newark Rebellion Commemoration march and rally on the 55th anniversary of the uprising on Tuesday, July 12, 2022, 5:00 pm starting at the monument dedicated to those killed during the unrest, located at 250 Springfield Avenue in Newark, NJ.
The monument is located on Springfield Ave between Hayes Street and Irvine Turner Blvd.
“The 1967 Newark uprising was sparked by a police brutality incident. At that time people in the city demanded a police review board with subpoena powers. Fifty-five years later we are still demanding the same thing,” said Lawrence Hamm, chairman of the People’s Organization For Progress.
“It’s a damn shame that we have to fight for something that other cities like New York have had for more than 50 years. However, we will continue to fight until we get it,” Hamm said.
The speakers will include family members of those who were killed during the four-day episode of violent, armed conflict in the streets, residents of Newark at that time, and community leaders and activists.
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, the African-American population was largely excluded from meaningful political representation and frequently subjected to police brutality.
Over the four-day period between July 12 and July 17, 1967, the Newark riots resulted in at least 26 deaths and hundreds more serious injuries.
Serious property damage, including shattered storefronts and fires caused by arson, left much of the city’s built environment damaged or destroyed.
At the height of the conflict, the National Guard was called upon to occupy the city with tanks and other military equipment, leading to iconic media depictions that were considered particularly shocking when shared in the national press.
In the aftermath of the riots, Newark was quite rapidly abandoned by many of its remaining middle-class and affluent residents, as well as much of its white working-class population.
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka—the son of Amiri Baraka, who led the Committee For A Unified Newark (CFUN) locally and the Congress of African People (CAP) nationally—sought to tackle the same questions of police brutality and corruption.
Mayor Baraka tried to establish a civilian review board with full subpoena power, and the authority to conduct independent investigations, with genuine community involvement.
After a bitter legal fight with local police unions, the New Jersey Supreme Court stripped the civilian review board of several critical powers, although POP continues to seek its restoration.
Hamm and other participants will discuss how the rebellion was sparked by police brutality and how what happened then is still relevant today.
The riots represented a flashpoint in a long-simmering conflict between elements of the city’s then-growing African-American population, which had recently become a numerical majority, and its old political establishment, which remained dominated by members of white ethnic groups—especially Italian, Jewish, and Irish Americans—who had gained a political foothold in Newark during earlier generations.