History September 05, 2019 at 10:00 am

7 deadly race riots in America in the last century that had the most Black casualties

Etsey Atisu September 05, 2019 at 10:00 am

September 05, 2019 at 10:00 am | History

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The National Guard on Springfield Avenue in Newark on July 14, 1967. Credit Don Hogan Charles/The New York Times

Newark Riots of 1967

The Newark Riot of 1967, which took place in Newark, New Jersey from July 12 through July 17, 1967, was sparked by a display of police brutality. John Smith, an African-American cab driver for the Safety Cab Company, was arrested on Wednesday, July 12 when he drove his taxi around a police car and double-parked on 15th Avenue. 

According to a police report later released to the press, the police claimed that Smith was charged with “tailgating” and driving in the wrong direction on a one-way street. Smith was also charged with using offensive language and physical assault.

A witness who had seen Smith’s arrest called members of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the United Freedom Party, and the Newark Community Union Project.  These civil rights leaders were given permission to see Smith in his 4th Precinct holding cell. After noticing his injuries inflicted by the police, they demanded that he should be transported to a hospital.  Their demands were granted and Smith was moved to Beth Israel Hospital in Newark.

News from black Newark cab drivers began to circulate on the arrest of Smith. Word spread down 17th Avenue, west of the precinct police station where Smith had been held. 

As the riot approached its final hours, 26 people, mostly African Americans, were reported killed while another 750 were injured and over 1,000 were jailed. Property damage exceeded $10 million. The riot, the worst civil disorder in New Jersey history, ended on July 17, 1967.

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