It was July 12, 1967 when two White cops from Newark, NJ, arrested John W. Smith, a Black cab driver for improperly passing them on 15th Avenue. Reports indicate that Smith was taken to a nearby police precinct that was across the street from Hayes Homes, Newark’s largest public housing project. Several residents from Hayes Homes observed John, a beaten man being dragged into the precinct. It was this event that awakened the masses and started the Newark Riots that lasted until July 17, 1967. A total of 26 people passed away with over 700 people arrested and over 1,500 people were arrested.
The African American community in Newark was tired of being victims of police brutality and living in a city that was disconnected to their issues. African Americans had the highest unemployment rate, poverty was increasing and people were tired of living in slumlord conditions. At the same time, the Newark Police Department was filled by White police officers who would stop black people for DWB-Driving While Black. John Smith was the Rodney King of Newark. It was his arrest and beating that made the community rise up and sparked the awakening of a community so fed up of having their human and civil rights being violated. The Newark Rebellion just like the Watts Rebellion are important events in American history. It’s because moments like this that demonstrate the power of the collective consciousness. Rebellions are created to root out the injustices in one’s community. They are created to demonstrate that the human spirit can only take so much beating and at the same time it is that spirit that spearheads a rebellion to find peaceful solutions and a more dignify way of living in harmony with one another.
The question is, will history repeat itself? I say most definately. We have thousands of Newarks’ in this country today where the conditions are probably worst than 1967. We have communities where unemployment is high, poverty is skyrocketing, food prices are up, gas prices are off the roof, people homeless and on the verge of being homeless, people still living in slumlord conditions, and things are not looking any better. The current economic crisis in our country is creating a blueprint for a mass social justice movement. All the ingredients are there for a mass social uprising. The question is, will the next Newark be the turning point for us as a people to stand up against this system and transform it to a more just system?
I am including videos that documents the Newark Riots. Enjoy them.
Here is further information on the Newark Riots in the feature documentary, Revolution ’67.
This video breaks down the Newark Riots
Here is a family’s account of the Newark Riots
[MY PEOPLE] Where are we going?