Racial tension between law enforcement and residents in Newark, New Jersey, was already high before it boiled over on July 12, 1967, when 23 people were killed in what is now known as the Newark Rebellion. As in most major metropolitan cities, police officers were primarily of Irish and Italian descent and African-Americans were frequently made victims of police brutality and abuse that was rarely prosecuted. In addition, despite housing shortages, there were plans to build a superhighway through the Black community and take 150 acres to build a medical school and hospital complex, according to a Rutgers University report.
The city called it "urban renewal," but to residents it was more like "Negro removal." Five days of violence from July 12-16 were sparked by the arrest of John Smith, an African-American cab driver who suffered serious injuries after being arrested for tailgating and driving in the wrong direction on a one-way street. Although the civil rights group Congress of Racial Equality hoped to lead a "peaceful protest," the frustration experienced by a group of young men erupted, which led to looting and violence. According to a summary of events on blackpast.org, in the end 26 people were killed, 750 injured and more than 1,000 jailed. In addition, the rioting caused more than $10 million in damage that in some opinions endures to this day.
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