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Wed, 07.12.1967

The Newark Race Riot Occurs

*On this date in 1967, the Newark Race Riots occurred. The four-day riot left 26 people dead, including Edward Moss, a 10-year-old boy.

Over 1,000 others were injured, and the city incurred more than $10 million in property damage. In 1967, Newark, NJ, had the nation's highest percentage of substandard housing and the second-highest crime and infant mortality rates.  That July, purported police brutality involving the arrest of an African American cab driver charged with assaulting a police officer plunged the city into four days of violence and destruction.

Although deteriorated housing, high unemployment, inferior schools, a corrupt municipal government, and a lack of political power set the scene for the violence of '67, two issues that summer had particularly elevated Newark's racial tension.  One involved the mayor's selection for the secretary of the school board, a matter that nearly caused a fight between blacks and whites at a June meeting.  The other regarded the city's plans to construct the New Jersey College of Medicine and Dentistry on a 50-acre plot in the Central Ward that the black community felt should be used for housing.

The riots began as a crowd of around 200 assembled outside the Fourth Precinct station house to protest the arrest of the cab driver with chants of "police brutality." Rocks and bottles were thrown, and the crowd was eventually dispersed.  Yet, that night bands of angry looters caroused through the city, smashing windows (mostly of liquor stores), strewing merchandise in the streets, and pulling fire alarms. The following day the violence moved into Newark's business district, and the mayor called for support from the National Guard and state troopers. Fires sprang up all over the city.

On the third day, National Guardsmen and state troopers opened fire on rioters. African American business owners started writing "soul bro" on their storefronts to prevent looting.

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