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July 12: The Newark Riots

July 12, 2013

imagesThe Newark riots, a six-day uprising against police brutality and harassment of African-Americans, as well as redlining, inferior education, and other oppressions caused by institutional racism, broke out on this date in 1967 in the city’s Central Ward. The neighborhood had formerly been heavily Jewish, and many of its businesses remained in Jewish hands. (In the 1930s and ’40s, Newark was home to the fourth-largest Jewish population in the U.S., with some 65,000 Jews out of a population of 450,000.) These businesses, clothing, liquor, food, and appliance stores, were widely looted, while stores marked “Soul Brother” or otherwise indicating black ownership were largely left untouched. Twenty-six people died in the riots, including a white fire department captain shot dead by snipers, though most of the deaths were at the hands of the National Guard. The precipitating event was the arrest and beating of a black cab driver, John Smith, by two white cops. For a newsreel about the riots, look below.

“All my friends said, ‘Move out, move out, don’t stay there,’ said Monroe Bierman, who owns Fit Rite, a women’s clothing store on Springfield Avenue. ‘But I had a lot of loyal customers and they didn’t have cars. If I had moved to the suburbs, I would have had to start all over again.’ Bierman remembers coming back to his store after the riots to find his mannequins in the street, their body parts strewn along the road. He kept his doors shuttered for six weeks as the area trembled with rumors of another riot. Then he cleaned up and reopened.”—Brad Parks, Star-Ledger blog

JEWDAYO ROCKS! Philip Taylor Kramer, bass player for Iron Butterfly, was born on this date in 1952. To see them playing their classic, atrocious hit song, “In A Gadda Da Vida,” look below.