50th anniversary of Newark Riots remembered with vigil

Wednesday, July 12, 2017 06:17PM
Toni Yates reports on the origins of the Newark Riots.

NEWARK, New Jersey - 1967 was the year of the first human heart transplant, it was also the year that both Detroit and Newark erupted in rioting.

In Newark, it began with a rumor that a man died in police custody, but it ended with 26 dead and hundreds injured.

Wednesday marks the 50th anniversary of the Newark riots.

A special vigil was held to mark the occasion.

"I was at my friend's house, someone ran upstairs and said Springfield Ave was on fire," said Lawrence Hamm, Chairman of People's Organization for Progress.

Hamm was just 12 years old when he saw his neighborhood go up in violence and flames.

This after an African American taxi driver, John Smith, was dragged from his cab, brutally beaten and arrested by police.

That was the last straw for an oppressed city.

At the corner of where the rebellion was started, there are many who still remember state police rolling in, then National Guard troops arriving.
Forrest Drennen was 15 and trying to get to work by bus.

"I was the only one on the bus, I went back home," Drennen said.

"They were fighting for rights, that's why they were fighting. Not race, not color, just rights," said Patricia Torres, Newark resident.

Many came back on this 50th anniversary to the corner of Springfield and Livingston, to remember the 26 people who lost their lives.

"But the other side was a liberation of people's consciousness," Hamm said.

They say the watch moves forward today, in a continuing effort to establish a better partnership with law enforcement.

"It's important for police to be responsive to our needs and our concerns, to police in a way that's constitutional," said Portia Allen-Kyle, ACLU.
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