The 1967 Newark riots

The 1967 Newark riots were a major civil disturbance that occurred in the city of Newark, New Jersey between July 12 and July 17, 1967. The four days of rioting, looting, and destruction left 26 dead and hundreds injured.

What Sparked the Event?

This unrest came to a head when two white Newark policemen, John DeSimone and Vito Pontrelli, arrested a black cabdriver, John William Smith. After signaling, Smith passed the double parked police car, was then pursued and pulled over by the officers. He was arrested, beaten by the officers and taken to the 4th Police Precinct where he was charged with assaulting the officers and making insulting remarks. Residents of Hayes Homes, a large public housing project, saw an incapacitated Smith being dragged into the precinct, and a rumor was started that he had been killed while in police custody (Smith had in fact been released in the custody of his lawyer). When police rushed out of their station wearing hard hats and carrying clubs, people began to throw bricks, bottles, and rocks. At least five police officers were struck by stones, according to one policeman. Some residents went to City Hall and shouted angry protests. After midnight false alarms caused fire engines to race around a six block area along Belmont Avenue in the ghetto area. Looters smashed windows, and threw merchandise onto sidewalks. According to police, liquor stores were the main target of looters.