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When Black New Yorkers decided to unite for their own: Buffalo race riots of 1967

June 27, 2019 at 05:00 pm | History

Nii Ashaley Asé Ashiley

Nii Ashaley Asé Ashiley | Staff Writer

June 27, 2019 at 05:00 pm | History

Image source: timesrepublican.com

Poor housing structure, limited job opportunities for the Black youth resulting from the post-Second World War de-industrialization process, low-quality education, inadequate social support systems, discriminatory laws and racial bigotry, all led to the explosion of that pent-up frustration the Black inhabitants of Buffalo, New York shared with the world on 27th June 1967.

It was a Monday, history reports that two African-American youth were engaged in a dispute of some sort and they were met by two white police officers as a result. The interference of the two white police officers seemed to have angered the locals of Lakeview projects; a public housing facility in Buffalo, New York.

Moments after the white police officers meddled in the affairs of the African-American disputing youth, about 200 to 300 African-Americans thronged the scene claiming that the two white police officers used excessive force in their line of duty.

Stones, bottles, knives, clubs and any other item that would serve as a weapon by the African-American community went flying through the air in the direction of the police force that came to the scene to ease the tension and dissolve the disturbance.

The presence of the police force did nothing to ease out the swelling riot. The residents of Lakeview projects were further enraged by their presence the more. Because the second day of the riot recorded about 1500 African-Americans joining in the commotion.

The Buffalo riot lasted till the 1st of July 1967. It resulted in over 180 arrests and an estimated $250,000 in property damage.

This turn of events may not have been the best line of action for the African-American community in Buffalo, but as submitted by some participants of the riot; “it was the only language the authorities understood” and so they had to “speak” it.

A brief video on the 1967 Buffalo race riot.
Credit: YouTube.

It must, however, be made evident that; racial discrimination against the African-American community and the abject lack of job opportunities due to the post-Second World War de-industrialization process were some of the many underlying causes for the riot. And though posterity may adjudge the Black residents of Buffalo as impatient and destructive, they must also be upheld as a community of oppressed individuals who stood up for their own and for themselves.

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