JOHN SMITH STARTS A RIOT
As if to prove its inevitability, the Newark riot began with an ordinary police-brutality incident against a man with an ordinary name: John Smith, driver of Cab 45, in the employ of the Safety Cab Company. Early Wednesday night, Smith’s cab drove around a police car double-parked on 15th Avenue. Two uniformed patrolmen stopped the cab. According to the police story given to the Star-Ledger of July 14, Smith was charged with “tailgating” and driving the wrong way on a one-way street. Later they discovered his license had expired. The officers charged that Smith used abusive language and punched them. “They only used necessary force to subdue Smith, the policemen asserted.”
This “necessary force” was described more fully by Smith at his bail hearing on July 13. “There was no resistance on my part. That was a cover story by the police. They caved in my ribs, busted a hernia, and put a hole in my head.” Witnesses on the stoops saw Smith dragged, paralyzed, to the police station. Smith was conscious, however: “After I got into the precinct six or seven other officers along with the two who arrested me kicked and stomped me in the ribs and back. They then took me to a cell and put my head over the toilet bowl. While my head was over the toilet bowl I was struck on the back of the head with a revolver. I was also being cursed while they were beating me. An arresting officer in the cell-block said, ‘This baby is mine.”‘
It was about eight o’clock. Negro cab-drivers circulated the report on Smith over their radios. Women and men shook their heads as they stood or sat in front of their homes. The word spread down 17th Avenue west of the precinct, and across the avenue into Hayes Homes. Called the “projects” by everyone, Hayes Homes was erected in the wake of “slum clearance” in the mid-Fifties. Each of the six twelve-story buildings holds about 1000 people. People know them as foul prisons and police know them as “breeding grounds” for crime. As the word spread through Hayes Homes, people gathered at the windows and along the shadowy sidewalks facing the precinct.
What was unusual about John Smith’s case was the fact that the police were forced to let respected civil-rights leaders see his condition less than two hours after the beating. The police were trapped and nervous because they had been caught by civil-rights leaders whose account could not be discredited. A neighborhood resident had called several of these leaders—including activists from CORE, the United Freedom Party, and the Newark Community Union Project—minutes after Smith was brought in.
After they had a heated argument about Smith with officers in the precinct, an inspector arrived from central police headquarters and agreed to let the group see the prisoner in his cell. “Don’t listen to what he says. He’s obviously upset and nervous as you might expect,” the inspector told the group. The group was incensed after seeing Smith’s condition. They demanded that he be sent immediately to the hospital. The police complied, while others searched for witnesses, lawyers, and members of Smith’s family.
It was at this point that witnesses who were in the precinct house say the police began putting on riot helmets. None of the activists felt there was going to be an explosion, and none remembers a crowd of more than a hundred in the street at this point.
POVERTY-PROGRAM officials, who had been called to the precinct by the activists, arrived next. Among them were Timothy Still, President of the United Community Corp., a resident of Hayes Homes and for ten years president of its Tenants Council, and Oliver Lofton, administrator of the Newark Legal Services Project. A former assistant US attorney, Lofton during the riot was to become the Governor’s informal liaison with different elements of the organized Negro community and, afterward, a member of the Governor’s “blue ribbon” commission to investigate the riots. With the knowledge of the police, the leaders determined to organize a peaceful but angry demonstration in front of the precinct. They were given a bullhorn by a police official who hoped they could calm the crowd, which was now growing. It was eleven o’clock.
Outside the precinct Bob Curvin of CORE, Still, and Lofton called for a militant demonstration from atop a police car. Curvin declared that the police were conducting a war against the black community. Still spoke not as an official, but in his informal role of neighborhood leader, expressing anger at “sadists” in the precinct but urging the people to be peaceful. Lofton reiterated the need for an orderly demonstration, promising that all his legal resources would go to the defense of the cab-driver.
But this was one of those occasions in which people take leadership in their own hands. Although each speaker was loudly cheered, the people were in no mood to march, as certain of the organizational leaders could sense. A few marched behind Tim Still, but the line soon fell apart. A local man took the police bullhorn and simply said, “Come down the street, we got some shit.” In the darkness across from the precinct young men from the neighborhood were picking up bricks and bottles, and looking for some gasoline.
Missiles started to fly at the precinct, where 110 windows would eventually be broken. A friend pulled Curvin away from the front of the station, and the rest of the assembled crowd moved back in anticipation of the police. The police came out with helmets and clubs but were driven back inside by a torrent of bricks and bottles. People were starting to move across the street as the front of the precinct became a battle zone.
Just after midnight, two Molotov cocktails exploded high on the western wall of the precinct. A stream of fire curled fifty feet down the wall, flared for ten seconds, and died. The people, now numbering at least 500 on the street, let out a gasp of excitement. Fear, or at least caution, was apparent also: many people retreated into the darkness or behind cars in the Hayes parking lot.
After three years of wondering when “the riot” would come to Newark, people knew that this could be it. While city officials pointed with pride to Newark’s record of peace, most of the community knew it was only a matter of time until the explosion: “And when Newark goes,” according to street wisdom, “it’s going to really go.” Despite millions in anti-poverty and job-training funds during the last three summers, the ailments which afflict every black community had become no better. According to the city officials themselves, Newark has the highest percentage of bad housing of any city in the nation, the highest maternal mortality rate, and the second highest infant mortality rate; the unemployment rate in the ghetto is higher than 15 percent. Every effort to create an organized movement for change has been discredited, absorbed, or met with implacable hostility by politicians. The city’s 250,000 Negroes—a majority of the population—felt with good reason excluded from the institutions of business and government.
Much of the community viewed the police as the tool of more direct intimidation, harassment, and violence. Dominated by the Italians who run Newark politics, tainted by alleged underworld connections, and with a token of only 250 blacks among 1400 members, the Police Department was seen as the spearhead of organized hostility to Negro action, an armed unit protecting the privileges of the shrinking white community of the city. A year of federally sponsored workshop meetings of police and neighborhood people apparently was not enough to modify “police-community relations.” On the wall of Headquarters there are two signs which hint at the police world view: “BOMB HANOI” and “GO TO COLLEGE AND LEARN TO RIOT.”
On the front lines against the police that night were men between fifteen and twenty-five years old from the projects and the nearby avenues. They were the primary assailants and the most elusive enemy for the police. They were the force which broke open the situation in which masses of people began to participate. Few of them had ever been involved in civil-rights organizations, although some were known to SNCC Newark Community Union Project organizers who had been working from an office three blocks away since 1965. They were friendly to the organizers, approved of the program of community organizing, but “joined” only to the extent of hanging out or playing music. They liked and understood the slogan “Black Power.” They were “organized” very loosely: Newark has not had gangs in any organized sense since the early Sixties. But these youths still are capable of communicating and acting effectively on a citywide basis.
FATHERS AND MOTHERS in the ghetto often complain that even they cannot understand the wildness of their kids. Knowing that America denies opportunity to black young men, black parents still share with the whites the sense that youth is heading in a radically new, incomprehensible, and frightening direction. Refusal to obey authority—that of parents, teachers, and other adult “supervisors”—is a common charge against youngsters. Yet when the riot broke out, the generations came together. The parents understood and approved the defiance of their sons that night.
So while the young men grouped their forces, shouted, and armed themselves against the helmeted police with whatever they could find on the ground, the older generation gathered in larger and larger numbers in the rear. The Hayes projects are a useful terrain for people making war. The police station is well lit, but the projects are dark, especially the rooftops 100 yards above the street. Each room in the projects can be darkened to allow people to observe or attack from their windows. There is little light in the pathways, recreation areas, and parking lots around the bases of the tall buildings. The police thus were faced with the problems of ambush and of searching through a shadow world where everybody appears to be alike to an outsider. It was in this sanctuary that parents came together. It was here also that their sons could return to avoid the police.
Less than an hour after the bomb hit the precinct, the looting phase began. A group of twenty-five young people on 17th Avenue decided that the time was ripe to break into the stores. They ran up 17th Avenue toward Belmont as the word of their mission spread along the way. “They’re going up to Harry’s,” a mother excitedly said. She and her friends looked quizzically at each other, then started running up to the corner. A boom and a crash signaled the opening of the new stage. Within fifteen minutes burglar-alarms were ringing up and down Belmont and 17th. People poured out from the project areas into liquor and furniture stores as the young people tore them open.
The police now began patrolling on foot in small teams. It was clear that they were both outnumbered and uncertain of themselves in the streets. Police violence grew. The next day Newark Human Rights Commission Chairman Al Black reported to the Mayor what the police did when “order” collapsed: a Negro policeman in civilian clothes was beaten by white policemen when he entered the Precinct to report for duty; Mrs. Vera Brinson was told to “get the hell upstairs” and hit on the neck with a club in Hayes Homes; Gregory Smith said police shouted “all you black niggers get upstairs” at project residents; two men were seized by police as they returned from work, one beaten by eight police at the precinct and the other punched and kicked by fifteen police at the entrance to his building. These people were not “criminals,” Black told the Mayor, but were working people.
But in the first hours the police could not control the streets in spite of nearly 100 arrests and numerous attacks on people. After a while they developed an uneasy coexistence with the crowd, the police in twos and threes taking up positions to “protect” stores which were already looted, while the people moved on to other stores. More police tried in vain to regain control of 17th Avenue and Belmont but were trapped in a pattern of frustrating advance-and-retreat.
One hope of the police may have been to keep the riot from spreading. Again, however, this was beyond their control. If they had used greater force on Belmont and 17th, the result probably would have been to spread the riot by making people move beyond the zone of fire. Furthermore, though all of Newark’s 1400 police were being mobilized, it is doubtful there were enough men to cordon off effectively a spreading mass of rioters. Therefore the question of when and how the riot would spread was in the hands of the people rather than the police. That it did not spread may indicate the lack of real organization. All around the original riot zone people were sitting on their stoops or sleeping in their homes within earshot of the window. Yet word did not spread until the following day.
Moreover, an incident involving Smith’s fellow cab-drivers Wednesday night tends to indicate that the spreading word by itself is not sufficient to spread the action. The cab-drivers were the one group equipped to let thousands of people in the city know what had happened. Within a few hours of Smith’s arrest, the black cabbies were deciding by radio to meet at the Precinct and form a protest caravan to City Hall. Between 1 and 2 A.M. at least twenty cars were lined up along Belmont at the corner of 17th, creating new noise, excitement, and fury. After nearly an hour of waiting and planning, the cabs roared down to police headquarters, located behind City Hall, to demand the release of Smith. They carried close to 100 passengers from the riot area with them. At headquarters they were able to secure a promise that Smith would be adequately treated and released after arraignment in the morning. At the same time the police closed off traffic on Broad Street in front of City Hall, thus helping further to alert citizens who had not been affected by the rioting or the cab-drivers’ caravan. Police by this time were swinging their clubs freely, even at confused motorists, perhaps out of fear that bombs would be thrown against the City Hall building itself.
Yet the riot did not spread. By 4 A.M. most of the participants had gone home. About fifty people, mostly young, stood on the corner of 17th and Fairview watching and occasionally taunting police who had “secured” 17th Avenue. Police cars and wagons patrolled up and down 17th; now and then, policemen would leap out of their cars to charge at the people on the corner, only to watch them vanish up alleys and between houses. By 5 A.M. everyone had vanished from the streets, except the police.
THE COMMUNITY TAKES POWER
Thursday morning’s papers denied what everyone knew was true. Mayor Addonizio called the events of the previous evening an “isolated incident,” not of genuine riot proportions. In their behavior, however, city officials showed that they were worried.
The Mayor called in civil-rights leaders, including both moderate ministers and some of his more militant opponents. Concessions were made. Addonizio decided to ask for City Council funds to allow additional police captaincies so that a qualified Negro officer, Eddie Williams, could become the first Negro captain. He requested that Human Rights Director James Threatt and Police Director Dominick Spina separately investigate Wednesday’s conflict. He reassigned the two patrolmen who beat Smith to “administrative positions.” He referred the Smith case to the County Prosecutor and FBI. He announced formation of a Blue Ribbon Commission, like the McCone Commission which investigated Watts, to examine this “isolated incident.” The Mayor was doing what militant politicians were demanding. But when someone told him point blank that the people had lost confidence in his administration, Addonizio replied, “That’s politics. Sit down. You’ve said enough.”
There was no civil-rights leader, no organization, capable of determining what was to come. Sensing this, some community activists refused to engage in what they felt were fruitless meetings downtown. Others tried to warn the Mayor of what might happen, in full knowledge that the Mayor was now powerless. Others worked desperately for a solution that could be brought into the community in a bargain for peace. Many jockeyed for position, worrying about who had the Mayor’s ear, who might be blamed, who would be the channel for resources from the establishment to the community.
Some community activists settled on the idea of a demonstration at the precinct in the evening. At a neighborhood anti-poverty center near the precinct, they ran off a leaflet which simply said: “Stop! Police Brutality!” It would be given out to motorists, calling for a demonstration at the precinct at 7:30 P.M. Some organizers of this demonstration probably thought it might channel energy away from violence. Others knew the violence was there, and was not to be channeled into conventional protest, yet protest was the only avenue of expression familiar to them. So they proceeded. Police Director Spina would later claim that this activity helped to “fuel” the explosion later that night.
Regardless of what the Mayor did, regardless of what civil-rights leaders did, regardless of what planners of the demonstration did, the riot was going to happen. The authorities had been indifferent to the community’s demand for justice; now the community was going to be indifferent to the authorities’ demand for order. This was apparent to community organizers who walked around the projects Thursday afternoon talking to young people. All the organizers urged was that burning of buildings be minimized so as to spare lives.
Meanwhile the leaflets were going out as planned. By late afternoon about twenty-five people, mostly young kids, were picketing the precinct. By 6 P.M. a somewhat larger number were picketing in the street where traffic had been blocked off. More than 100 people gathered in the parking lot of the projects. An equal number lined 17th Avenue on both sides. These were people of the community. Almost no one from the poverty program or existing organizations was involved in leading the pickets. An Afro drum group arrived and started playing.
Word spread. At a bar five blocks away, for example, people heard the news and started for 17th Avenue. Out of about twenty-five, only one remained behind, because he thought that if a riot occurred, Negro prisoners would be beaten in the jail he had just left.
Back at the precinct where the tempo was increasing by the minute, Human Rights Commission Director James Threat arrived with a message to the crowd from the Mayor. Threatt said Addonizio promised a Negro police captain by July 17 if the demonstration would stop. People told Threatt to get off the precinct steps where he was standing. A Negro detective, possibly FBI agent Jong Randall who was identified in The New York Times, July 14, started moving back the crowd now surrounding Threatt. When he failed several community activists cleared the stairs. Another Negro detective then stood on the steps and asked, “Why don’t you people just go home?” Someone threw an object at him, but the man did not move. Rocks and bottles started flying. The detective was pulled out of the way, then rocks and bottles were thrown at the precinct. A lady in white smashed one of the precinct windows with a stick.
David Crooms, a black free-lance photographer, was on the scene. “The rioting would have broken out anyway,” he believes; but it began at the precinct when the demonstration was disrupted by Threatt’s appearance with the empty offer. With other press members, Crooms moved across the street to the gas station. There he heard one officer inside the station yelling “When the hell are we going out there?” Then the side door opened. Crooms tells this story:
Big white cops came out yelling “let’s go get these mother-fuckers.” Myself and the other newsmen, four of them, ran along behind the charging police. We followed them out to the court in the middle of Hayes Homes. On the way, they caught one black newsman off to the side and beat him. They chased this colored fellow who was running in the court. Twelve of fourteen cops got on him, dropped him, and beat him. We were still behind the cops. Next thing I knew, one yelled, “get that black mother-fucker.” The rest of the newsmen stood and wondered what was going on. There were no questions asked. They hit me on top of the head, and I went out for maybe five seconds. When I came to, one of them hit me just below the eye. They ran off. I went back to the precinct. The captain said he was sorry and told me to file a complaint.
Al Black, the chairman of the Newark Human Rights Commission, was around the Fourth Precinct from seven that evening to three-thirty the next morning. He heard the police “using vicious racial slurs on Negroes, including calling them black S.O.B.S.” He saw police beating young Negroes under arrest as they were being taken to the Precinct. Police dragged in Negroes who had their hands handcuffed behind their backs, while officers were striking with night sticks on their heads and bodies. “I tried to prevent [them] from beating Negroes they arrested. I demanded that the police take jailed persons who were bleeding profusely to the hospital, and they complied.” Director Spina was inside the station.
HEAVY LOOTING SOON began on Springfield Avenue, three blocks from the precinct and the largest commercial street in the ghetto. By midnight there was action everywhere in the ghetto, although the Mayor announced that the disturbance was being brought to an end. Partly the expansion was caused by people moving in new directions, outward from the looted areas where police were concentrated. Partly it was people in new neighborhoods following the example of people in the original area. A human network of communication was forming, with people in the streets as its main conductors.
The youth were again in the lead, breaking windows wherever the chance appeared, chanting “Black Power,” moving in groups through dark streets to new commercial areas. This was more than a case of youth stepping in where parents feared to tread. This was the largest demonstration of black people ever held in Newark. At any major intersection, and there are at least ten such points in the ghetto, there were more than a thousand people on the streets at the same time. A small number entered stores and moved out with what they could carry; they would be replaced by others from the large mass of people walking, running, or standing in the streets. Further back were thousands more who watched from windows and stoops and periodically participated. Those with mixed feelings were not about to intervene against their neighbors. A small number, largely the older people, shook their heads.
People voted with their feet to expropriate property to which they felt entitled. They were tearing up the stores with the trick contracts and installment plans, the second-hand televisions going for top-quality prices, the phony scales, the inferior meat and vegetables. A common claim was: this is owed me. But few needed to argue. People who under ordinary conditions respected law because they were forced to do so now felt free to act upon the law as they thought it should be. When an unpopular store was opened up, with that mighty crash of glass or ripping sound of metal, great shouts of joy would sound. “Hey, they got Alice’s.” “They gave that place what it deserved.” “They did? G-o-o-d!”
The riot was more effective against gouging merchants than organized protest had ever been. The year before a survey was started to check on merchants who weighted their scales. The survey collapsed because of disinterest: people needed power, not proof. This spring the welfare mothers spent a month planning and carrying out a protest against a single widely hated store. The owner finally was forced to close his business, but only after nineteen people were arrested in a demonstration. There was no effective follow-up against the other stores, though frightened merchants cleaned up their stores, offered bribes to organizers, and chipped in money to outfit a kid’s baseball team. It was too late for concessions.
The Negro middle class and “respectable” working people participated heavily on Thursday night. Well-dressed couples with kids in their cars were a common sight. One woman, who said she already could afford the “junk” sold in the ghetto, decided to wait until the rioting spread to fancier sections where she could get expensive furs. Doubtless the Mayor’s failure to act on issues such as education caused disaffection among the black middle class. Doubtless, too, the middle class’s willingness to consider rioting legitimate made it more likely that a riot would happen.
But it is doubtful that any tactics by the Mayor could have divided the black middle class from the ghetto in such a way as to prevent a riot. The poor were going to riot. The middle class could join. Many did, because their racial consciousness cut through middle-class values to make property destruction seem reasonable, especially when the white authorities cannot see who is looting. During the Watts riot the story was told of a black executive who regularly stopped to throw bricks before attending suburban cocktail parties and barbecues; the same attitude was present in Newark. When police systematically attacked Negro-owned stores later in the week, they were only confirming what the black middle class, reluctantly, was starting to understand: that racism ultimately makes no distinction between “proper” and “lowly” colored people.
Black unity, solidarity, spirit, the feeling of being home: by whatever name, the fact was plain. There is no question that a majority of Negroes gave support. People on the street felt free to take shelter from the police in the homes of people they did not know. What concerned Governor Hughes greatly the next morning was the “carnival atmosphere” of people looting even in daylight. What for Hughes seemed like “laughing at a funeral” was to many in the community more like the celebration of a new beginning. People felt as though for a moment they were creating a community of their own.
Economic gain was the basis of mass involvement. The stores presented the most immediate way for people to take what they felt was theirs. Liquor was the most convenient item to steal. The Governor’s announcement Friday morning that he would “dry the town out” came a little late. But more useful things were also the object of the looters. Boys who had few clothes took home more than they had ever owned before. Mattresses were carried into apartments to replace the second-hand or overused ones purchased on installment. New television sets, irons, tables and chairs, baseball bats, dishware and other household goods were carried out in arm-loads. People walked, ran, or drove off with their possessions. There were Negro gangsters and hijackers, with connections in the white mob network, on the scene too, but most of the people were taking only for themselves. One reason there was so little quarreling over “who gets what” was that there was, for a change, enough for all.
For the most part the rioting was controlled and focused. The “rampaging” was aimed almost exclusively at white-owned stores, and not at such buildings as schools, churches, or banks. The latter institutions are oppressive but their buildings contain little that can be carried off. To this extent the riot was concrete rather than symbolic. There were no attacks by Negroes on “soul brother” stores. There were people injured by glass on the streets where they fell, but they typically fell because police chased them, not because of stampeding in the rush for goods.
Basic feelings of racial hate were released at white people far less often than was suggested by the media. Many missiles were thrown at cars driven by whites but not often with murderous intent. Several times such cars were stopped, the occupants jeered at and terrified, and a few actual beatings occurred. However, no white passers-by or storeowners were killed and very few, if any, were shot at. No white neighborhoods were attacked, though rioting reached the borders of at least four separate white areas. Several white community workers felt able to move around on foot freely by day and even at night, especially in the company of Negroes. Driving was more difficult because all white people appeared to be outsiders motoring home. These conditions remained the same throughout the week, though the tensions between whites and blacks intensified as the stage of spirited looting was replaced by that of bitter confrontation with the troops.
POLICE BEHAVIOR became more and more violent as the looting expanded. The size of the rebellion was far too large for 1400 patrolmen. Their tactic seemed to be to drive at high speeds, with sirens whining, down major streets in the ghetto. Thus they were driving too fast for rock-throwers while still attempting a show of force. As a result of this maneuver a woman was run down and apparently killed on 17th Avenue. The sight and sound of the police also stirred the community into greater excitement.
As darkness fell, the number of arrests increased sharply. Police started firing blanks. According to the Times of July 14, police were asking by radio for “the word” to shoot, and when news came in that policemen in one car were shooting real bullets, another voice shouted over the radio: “It’s about time; give them hell!” At midnight orders were given for police to use “all necessary means—including firearms—to defend themselves.”
Murdering looters was now possible. A short time afterward, twenty-eight-year-old Tedock Bell walked out of his Bergen Street home to see what had happened to the nearby bar where he was employed. When the police came, his wife left in fright. But Tedock told his sister-in-law and her boyfriend not to run because they weren’t doing anything. They did run, however, while he walked. He became the first victim a minute later. About 4 A.M. patrolmen Harry Romeo and David Martinez reported they saw four men emerge with bottles from a liquor store on Jones Street. They called halt, the officers told the Newark News—calling halt is a preliminary to shooting someone—but the looters ran. Martinez shot and killed one of them going through a fence.
More than 250 people were treated at City Hospital that night, at least fifteen reportedly for gunshot wounds. Less than one-quarter of them were held for further diagnosis and treatment. The police took over the ambulances from the Negro drivers and rescue workers. Snipers were shooting at the ambulances, police said. By 2:20 A.M. Mayor Addonizio was revising his midnight estimate that the situation was under control. Announcing that things had deteriorated, he asked Governor Hughes for aid in restoring order.
By early Friday morning 425 people were in jail. In addition to five dead, hundreds were wounded or injured. The Newark News that morning expressed hope that Newark might again become a city “in which people can live and work harmoniously in a climate that will encourage, not repel, the expansion of the business and industry that provide jobs for all.”
III. THE OCCUPATION
“An obvious open rebellion,” asserted Governor Hughes after his tour of Newark at 5 A.M. Friday. From that announcement until Monday afternoon, the black community was under military occupation. More than 3000 National Guardsmen were called up Friday morning from the surrounding white suburbs and southern Jersey towns. Five hundred white state troopers arrived at the same time. By mid-afternoon Friday they were moving in small convoys throughout the city, both clockwise and counter-clockwise, circling around seven parts of the ghetto. Guardsmen were moving in jeeps or small open trucks, usually led or followed by carloads of troopers or Newark police. Bayonets were attached to the Guard’s 30-caliber M-1 rifles or 30-caliber carbines, which they carried in addition to 45-caliber pistols. Personnel carriers weighing as much as eleven tons, and trucks mounted with machine guns, appeared here and there among the jeeps and police cars. The presence of these vehicles was designed, according to Governor Hughes, to build the confidence of the Negro community.
Confidence in what? Hughes defined the issues over and over in television, radio, and press interviews, as well as in meetings with community leaders. “The line between the jungle and the law might as well be drawn here as any place in America,” he announced shortly after arriving in Newark. On Saturday he talked again of the line between society and the jungle, adding that the Negroes “had better choose sides” becauses the “side of law and order has joined this to the finish.”
Certainly the police and much of white America agreed. In the carrying out of the Governor’s weekend definitions and policies at least twenty Negroes died, nearly all from police shooting, another 1000 were injured and 1000 jailed; more than 100 Negro-owned businesses were attacked by police and troopers; and hundreds of apartments were fired into along the ghetto’s streets. The average white citizen was convinced that these things had to be done in order to halt what Governor Hughes called a “criminal insurrection.” The troops, the public was told, had to be brought in to put an end to the looting, burning and sniping. But were the troops really brought in for these purposes?
The police themselves reported that looting was on the decline when the troops arrived: “the police radio which put out alarms at a frantic pace Thursday night,” said Saturday’s Newark News, “was less hectic last night, but a majority of calls were for sniping.” Most of the looting was at an end. When Hughes spoke of the “funeral of the city” Friday morning, he referred to the visible fact that most of the ghetto’s stores were destroyed by that time. Certainly, this was true of those stores which contained merchandise that could be carried away. Nearly all the damage had been done in twelve hours Thursday night. If the troops had been concerned to prevent looting, they could have grouped themselves in such a way as to protect the business districts downtown and in white neighborhoods. If they wanted to protect the remaining ghetto stores, they could have stood in small teams with machine guns in front of these stores, but the fact is that they were patrolling aggressively against people inside the ghetto.
If the troops were supposed to prevent stores from burning, they were not needed. A motoring caravan of troops cannot prevent people from setting a building on fire; troops are not equipped to fight blazes already set. Nor can they do much to shield firemen from missiles that are thrown, dropped, or fired. Moreover, the facts show that arson was insignificant in the Newark riot. Although the fire department reported 110 alarms from Thursday afternoon to Friday morning, it later admitted that most of the alarms were false; and a drive through the city on Friday morning showed evidence of no more than twenty-five fires throughout the ghetto. There was a clear reason for this: most of the houses are woodframe firetraps, and Negroes live above most of the stores that were looted. Burning would have risked the lives and property of black people. At the end of the riot, the fire department figures showed only ten major fires.
But the major justification for the use of troops, especially as looting and burning diminished, was the need to counter the attacks of snipers. There were 3000 National Guardsmen, 1400 Newark police, 500 state troopers, and several hundred firemen who were standing and riding in the open during the riot. They were exposed, it was claimed, to a “withering sniper fire.” With a pistol, and certainly with a rifle, an amateur sniper could have killed several soldiers. But only one policeman and one fireman were killed, both after the troops were brought in. The circumstances of their deaths are unclear. Both were described as sniper victims, although they were caught in the middle of police fire, and no one knew even the direction from which the snipers were shooting. But even if we assume they were sniper victims, two killings from Wednesday to Monday, in an area swarming with troops, suggest that the sniper fire from Negroes was far more limited than was claimed.
Life published an interview with a sniper who said that few whites were killed because the snipers were shooting in the air in order to distract the police from looters. If this was so, the officials who reported direct and heavy fire on police cars, ambulances, fire trucks, jeeps, and armored cars were being less than accurate about a very important issue. A shot in the air can be distinguished from withering fire aimed at human targets or vehicles.
No snipers were killed. No one was arrested in the act of sniping. Many people in the community knew that guns and ammunition were around, but only a tiny handful of people did any shooting. Some of these were isolated individuals, some operated in small teams. However, it must be emphasized that it was impossible for the snipers to initiate the riot. In the judgment of those who were present at the crucial incident on Wednesday, July 12, none of the people who could be considered “organized snipers” were even on the scene. They only began to emerge on Thursday after large numbers of young people had made their decision to riot. It is entirely possible that the riot would have been over had the troops not entered the community on Friday afternoon. The snipers were the pretext used by officials to commit thousands of violent acts against the whole Negro community. If the Governor was concerned about snipers, people in the ghetto said, then he should not have sent in the troops who served as targets.
BUT THE TROOPS came flooding in. John V. Spinale, an assistant to the Governor, stated that they had been instructed to act with the “utmost restraint” and to “shoot only when necessary, primarily in self-defense.” The reality was very different.
In the heavily looted Clinton Hill area (to take one example), the troops arrived early Friday afternoon. Parking their tank, armored cars, and jeeps in a lot ordinarily used by shoppers, the troops made their way up and down the avenue brandishing rifles and bayonets. Hundreds of people were on the street before they came, mostly people looking in wonder at the shattered remains of stores. When the troops arrived, however, young people and men came to the avenue in larger numbers than before. To show the troops that securing the area was impossible by military means, several youths set fire to a store the soldiers were “guarding.” Several fire engines and troop reinforcements rushed to the scene, drawing thousands of people into the street. Periodically squads of soldiers would march down the street driving people away with outstretched bayonets. But when the clearance was over, the people returned.
As dusk came, about fifty Guardsmen and troopers took up positions on the four corners of Clinton and Hunterdon. Several of them stood in the center of the street directing pedestrian and automobile traffic. Along Hunterdon Street people lined the stoops and stood in front of their homes. About thirty men, mostly young, stayed around the corner, alternately talking and arguing with the troops. The troops were all white, a fact that was not lost on one person who shouted that her son was in Vietnam.
At one point a car bearing Newark police drove down Hunterdon. A curse was uttered at the car by a man on the stoops, and the policeman slammed to a halt. The driver backed the car up to where the man was standing, stopped, got out, and approached the man, wrapping the leather cord of the nightstick around his wrist. “What did you say? What did you say, Mister?” the club grazing back and forth over the motionless black face. “Do you want this over your head? Well, get back inside. Do you hear me, get back inside. Get inside your house!” The policeman’s eyes were bulging and his voice was trembling. the man backed up to his porch, the policeman backed up to his car. Two hundred people had formed into a quiet audience.
When the police drove away, the young men went back up Hunterdon to taunt the Guardsmen. The soldiers marched toward them, bayonets pointing. The kids kept coming, a few spreading out into the street or behind the cars. Face to face, ten soldiers with guns against twenty-five kids with two bottles. The Guardsmen pushed the kids back with their bayonets. One bayonet went too far through the shirt and the victim turned around screaming into the soldier’s face. Quickly the troops circled around him and the rest of the kids moved into a wider circle. With the bayonets on his skin, the young man continued yelling. Down the street troopers rushed with pistols and clubs swinging. The soldiers opened their circle to allow the trooper to crack the captured one across the back. Two blows and he fell to the street, and twisted in a convulsion. Rocks and bottles flew at the troops and four black men ran up to the writhing body. They sat on the victim to prevent his body from snapping. At the corner all the Guardsmen were in a square formation pointing their rifles at people along the street and in their houses. They marched around in a tight step. The people retreated into homes and alleys. The street fell silent except for the soldiers’ footfalls. A neighborhood worker, deputized by the police to cool people off, put down his bullhorn and swore, “If they’re going to do this, fuck it. I can’t do anything.” After a moment he picked up the bullhorn and started speaking: “Please, people, take your little children inside, take your children inside. Someone is going to get hurt out here.”
IV. THE TERROR
We will never know the full story of how these troops and the police hurt the black people of Newark. But there is now sufficient evidence to establish the main features of their behavior.
Less than 2 percent of the guardsmen and troopers were Negro. Virtually none of the 250 Negro Newark policemen took part in the violent suppression. The New Jersey National Guard, like that in other states, is a lily-white organization which seems to have the character of an exclusive “club” for middle-income businessmen from the suburbs. The New Jersey state troopers also are predominantly white, and many are from conservative South Jersey towns where the troopers act as local police. It was understandable that these men would bring into the ghetto racist attitudes that would soon support outright sadism. A captain who commanded helicopter-borne infantry told a New York Times reporter on July 14:
“They put us here because we’re the toughest and the best…. If anybody throws things down our necks, then it’s shoot to kill, it’s either them or us, and it ain’t going to be us.”
On Saturday, the 15th, troopers charged up the stairs of the Hayes houses, shouting, “Get back, you black niggers!” There was shooting up each flight of stairs as they charged. Later, a trooper pumped more than thirty bullets into the body of a fallen teen-ager while shouting, “Die, bastard, die.” A Guardsman asked a witness, “What do you want us to do, kill all your Negroes?” A Newark policeman chipped in, “We are going to do it anyway, so we might as well take care of these three now.”
These are not isolated examples, but a selection from innumerable incidents of the kind that were reported throughout the riots. From them, we can draw three conclusions about the soldiers and the police. *
Trigger-happiness because of fear, confusion, and exhaustion: Many of the troops were assigned to round-the-clock duty. During that duty they were under conditions of extreme tension. They were kept moving about by incidents or reports of looting, burning, and shooting. They drove at speeds of more than fifty miles per hour; they ran continually along the streets after people. They were surrounded by unfamiliar and hostile faces. There were no foxholes or other shelters from attack. The troopers and Guardsmen knew little or nothing about the terrain, and often were unable to tell the direction of shooting. The New York Daily News of July 20 summarized:
Reporters in the riot area feared the random shots of the guardsmen far more than the shots from snipers…. Once a frantic voice shouted [over the radio], “Tell those Guardsmen to stop shooting at the roof. Those men they’re firing at are policemen.”…”They were completely out of their depth,” said one reporter. “It was like giving your kid brother a new toy. They were firing at anything and everything.”
In a report on police behavior for The New York Times, July 20, Peter Kihss quoted the police radio on Sunday night to this effect:
“Newark police, hold your fire! State police, hold your fire!… You’re shooting at each other! National Guardsmen, you’re shooting at buildings and sparks fly so we think there are snipers! Be sure of your targets!”
Kihss adds: “After these appeals, there seemed to be a decrease in sniper alarms.”
General and deliberate violence employed against the whole community: On Friday night ten Negroes were killed, 100 suffered gunshot wounds, 500 were “treated” at City Hospital, and at least as many were arrested or held. By Sunday night another ten were dead, at least fifty more had gunshot wounds, and another 500 were in jail. People were stopped indiscriminately in the streets, shoved, cursed, and beaten and shot. On Thursday, Joe Price, a veteran of the Korean war and an employee of ITT for 15 years, was beaten on the head, arms, stomach, and legs by five Newark policemen inside the Fourth Precinct. He had protested police harassment of neighborhood teenagers earlier in the day. Later, Jerry Berfet, walking peacefully on the sidewalk with two women, was stopped by police who told him to strip, ripped off his clothes, and forced him to run naked down the street. No charges were entered against either man. A Negro professional worker was arrested while driving on a quiet street after 10 P.M. curfew, beaten unconscious, and then forced to perform what his lawyer describes as “degrading acts” when he revived in the police station.
Troops fired wildly up streets and into buildings, at real or imagined enemies. On Saturday before darkness fell, three women were killed in their homes by police fire. Rebecca Brown, a twenty nine-year-old nurse’s aide, was cut nearly in half as she tried to rescue her two-year-old child from the window. Hattie Gainer, an elderly twenty-year resident of her neighborhood, was shot at her window in view of her three grandchildren. Eloise Spellman was shot through the neck in her Hayes apartment with three of her eleven children present.
A child in Scudder Homes lost his ear and eye to a bullet. A man was shot while fixing his car as police charged after a crowd. When another man told police he was shot in the side, the officer knocked him down and kicked him in the ribs.
The most obvious act of deliberate aggression was the police destruction of perhaps 100 Negro-owned stores Saturday and Sunday. One witness followed police down Bergen Street for fifteen blocks, watching them shoot into windows marked “Soul Brother.” Another storeowner observed a systematic pattern. On his block three white-owned stores were looted Thursday night; no Negro stores were damaged. There were no other disturbances on his block until well after midnight Saturday when he received calls that troopers were shooting into the Negro-owned stores or were breaking windows with the butts of their guns.
Was it because the police hated black people indiscriminately? Was it because the police wanted to teach middle-class Negroes that they must take responsibility for what “criminal” Negroes do? Or because the police wanted to prevent Negro-operated stores from gaining an advantage over the looted white merchants? Whatever the reason, the result was summed up clearly by Gustav Heningburg, a Negro who is a lay official of the Episcopal Church. He told the Newark News of July 17 that “the non-rioting Negroes are more afraid of the police than the rioters” because the police were retaliating instead of protecting.
Governor Hughes said on Sunday that all reports of excessive behavior would be handled by the troopers’ own investigative unit. If charges were proved true, “and after all the police are only human,” the Governor was sure that “justice will be done.” As for himself, “I felt a thrill of pride in the way our state police and National Guardsmen have conducted themselves.”
Cold-blooded murder: An evaluation of the deaths so far reported suggests that the military forces killed people for the purposes of terror and intimidation. Nearly all the dead were killed by police, troopers, and Guardsmen. The “crimes” of the victims were petty, vague, or unproven. None were accused by police of being snipers; only one so far is alleged to have been carrying a gun. Several of the dead were engaged in small-scale looting at most. The majority were observers; ten, in fact, were killed inside or just outside their homes. Many were killed in daylight. Nearly all the dead had families and jobs; only a few had previous criminal records. Seven of the dead were women, two were young boys. Of those known to be dead, five were killed Thursday night: one by a hit-and-run car, one allegedly shot by mistake by a sniper, three others by Newark police. Ten were slain on Friday night; six between Saturday afternoon and the early part of Sunday; one on Monday night. All but one or two of these were police victims.
The killing of nineteen-year-old James Rutledge will not soon be forgotten in Newark. On Sunday afternoon, he was inside a looted tavern with several other teen-agers hiding from the fire of troopers and police. According to a witness, the troopers burst into the tavern shooting and yelling, “Come out you dirty fucks.” James Rutledge agreed to come out from behind a cigarette machine. He was frisked against the wall. Then:
The two troopers…looked at each other. Then one trooper who had a rifle shot Jimmy from about three feet away…. While Jimmy lay on the floor, the same trooper started to shoot Jimmy some more with the rifle. As he fired…he yelled, “Die, you dirty bastard, die you dirty nigger, die, die…” At this point a Newark policeman walked in and asked what happened. I saw the troopers look at each other and smile….
The trooper who shot Jimmy remained…took a knife out of his own pocket and put it in Jimmy’s hand.
Shortly after three men came in with a stretcher. One said, “they really laid some lead on his ass.”…He asked the State Trooper what happened. The Trooper said, “He came at me with a knife”…
For anyone who wonders whether this is an exaggerated youthful horror story, the photographs of James Rutledge’s chest and head are available from his mother.
CLEARLY THE EVIDENCE points to a military massacre in Newark rather than to a two-sided war. This was not only the conclusion of the Negroes in the ghetto but of private Newark lawyers, professors of constitutional law, and representatives of the state American Civil Liberties Union. They charge that the police were the instrument of a criminal conspiracy “to engage in a pattern of systematic violence, terror, abuse, intimidation, and humiliation” to keep Negroes as second-class citizens. The police, according to the complaint, “seized on the initial disorders as an opportunity and pretext to perpetrate the most horrendous and widespread killing, violence, torture, and intimidation, not in response to any crime or civilian disorder, but as a violent demonstration of the powerlessness of the plaintiffs and their class…”
Thus it seems to many that the military, especially the Newark police, not only triggered the riot by beating a cab-driver but then created a climate of opinion that supported the use of all necessary force to suppress the riot. The force used by police was not in response to snipers, looting, and burning, but in retaliation against the successful uprising of Wednesday and Thursday nights.
Responsible officials of Newark and the state gave the orders to the police. “The Governor’s word was interpreted as a go-ahead to shoot.” a federal officer confided after the riot. Certainly by “drawing the line” for all America in Newark the Governor was endorsing the use of massive force. The city’s political officials seemed to know what was going on as well. One of the Mayor’s aides, Donald Malafronte, told the New York Daily News on July 15: “We’re through sending out kids with armbands telling kids not to riot. From now on we treat looters as outright criminals.”
In the aftermath of the riot, a Committee of Concern consisting of solid and responsible white citizens, including the Episcopal Bishop, the Dean of Rutgers in Newark, and the vice-president of Newark’s largest department store, formally stated their own awareness of police brutality. One of the causes of the riot, in their view, was the feeling in the Negro community that the police are “the single continuously lawless element operating in the community.” The solid citizens agreed that this Negro view had merit. If Life magazine could bemoan the fact that the Negro community would not turn in its “lawless elements,” couldn’t the solid white citizens be asked to turn in the murderous element in their midst?
The riot made clear that if something is not done about the police immediately, the fears of white society will be transformed into reality: whites will be facing a black society which will not only harbor, but welcome and employ snipers. The troops did not instill fear so much as a fighting hatred in the community. People of every age and background cursed the soldiers. Women spit at armored cars. Five-year-old kids clenched bottles in their hands. If the troops made a violent move, the primitive missiles were loosed at them. People openly talked of the riot turning into a showdown and, while many were afraid, few were willing to be pushed around by the troops. All told there were more than 3000 people arrested, injured, or killed; thousands more witnessed these incidents. From this kind of violence which touches people personally springs a commitment to fight back. By the end of the weekend many people spoke of a willingness to die.
BY SUNDAY the crisis was nearing a new stage. If the occupation of Friday and Saturday was going to continue, the community would have started to counterattack in a real way. “Why should we quit,” one kid wanted to know, “when they got twenty-five of us and only two of them are dead?”
Perhaps some fear of this trend led Governor Hughes to pull the troops out Monday morning. Perhaps he could see what another three days of occupation and siege would bring. Perhaps, on the other hand, he had no choice. The troops were tired, riots were spreading to other cities of the state, a railroad strike was beginning, and there were all those political engagements awaiting a man with large ambitions. It may also be true that the Governor knew the situation all along but knew as well that 90 percent of New Jersey is white and frightened. In this view, the Governor took a tough line in support of the troops at the beginning so that withdrawal would be politically acceptable to white voters later on. As late as Sunday night, a top State Police official was concerned that his men would consider him “chicken” if a pull-out were discussed openly.
Does it matter what Richard Hughes believed? Whatever it was, the consequences are what matter finally. The average view of Negroes as “criminals” to be suppressed was reinforced throughout the suburbs of New Jersey. The Negro community learned more deeply why they should hate white people. The police remain a protected and privileged conservative political force, the only such force licensed to kill. With all this coming to pass, few people were joyous as the troops went home on Monday.
V. FROM RIOT TO REVOLUTION
This country is experiencing its fourth year of urban revolt. Yet the message from Newark is that America has learned almost nothing since Watts.
There is no national program for economic and social change which answers the questions black people are raising. On the national scene, youth unemployment is well over 30 percent in the ghettos, in spite of the draft and manpower and make-work programs. Congress can pass laws against guns and riots, the FBI and local officials can bring criminal conspiracy or redbaiting charges, but until this country does something revolutionary to support the needs and aspirations of its youth—black and white, as the youth themselves define them—there will be no end to social crisis.
Those in power seem to regard the “riot problem” more and more as another form of natural disaster rather than as a problem capable of solution. Businessmen still hem and haw about the “profitability” and “viability” of building new homes where slums now stand. The summer issue of Newark Commerce, the Chamber of Commerce magazine, is entitled, “New Life in Newark.” The magazine complains that the good side of Newark life—its closeness to New York City, its rich undeveloped resources—is often overlooked because of “partially true” rumors that “Newark is crowded, it has slums, and the Negro population is growing rapidly.”
Political bankruptcy leads to the use of military force. As in Vietnam, American reactionaries, especially those in the military bureaucracies, are trying to pull the rest of the country into the use of terror to maintain the free world. The terror is usually covered over—civilians have weak stomachs—or “regretted” as the price of securing law and order. Inflammatory tales about the terror practiced by the natives, which often only reflect the projected guilt of the oppressors, spread widely through the white community.
The result is that the white community is moved into adopting the very jungle attitude of lawlessness which it fears in Negroes, “Go kill them niggers,” white crowds shouted to the Guardsmen as they rode into Newark. During the riot, a Times reporter was stopped at 2:30 A.M. in Mayor Addonizio’s west side neighborhood by a pipe-smoking man carrying (illegally) a shotgun. He informed the Times reporter that a protection society was forming in case “they” should come into the neighborhood. Negroes, on the other hand, were stripped of the smallest weapons and not even allowed in the streets after midnight. Such are the ways in which a society becomes militarized. Just as a military “takeover” in Washington is not necessary to expand the war in Vietnam, a police “takeover” of local government is not necessary to declare war on Negroes. Once the civilians believe there is no political way to deal with the issue, the problem is turned over to the troops.
The use of force can do nothing but create a demand for greater force. The Newark riot shows that troops cannot make people surrender. The police had several advantages over the community, particularly in firepower and mechanical mobility. Their pent-up racism gave them a certain amount of energy and morale as well. But, as events in the riot showed, the troops could not apply their methods to urban conditions. The problem of precision shooting—for example, at a sniper in a building with forty windows and escape routes through rooftop, alley, and doorway—is just as difficult in the urban jungle as precision bombing is in Vietnam. There is a lack of safe cover. There is no front line and no rear, no way to cordon an area completely. A block which is quiet when the troops are present can be the scene of an outbreak the moment the troops leave.
At the same time, the morale supported by racism soon turns into anxiety. Because of racism, the troops are unfamiliar with both the people and layout of the ghetto. Patrol duty after dark becomes a frightening and exhausting experience, especially for men who want to return alive to their families and homes. A psychology of desperation leads to careless and indiscriminate violence toward the community, including reprisal killing, which inflames the people whom the troops were sent to pacify.
The situation thus contains certain built-in advantages for black people. The community is theirs. They know faces, corners, rooms, alleys. They know whom to trust and whom not to trust. They can switch in seconds from a fighting to a passive posture. It is impressive that state and local officials could not get takers for their offer of money and clemency to anyone turning in a sniper.
This is not a time for radical illusions about “revolution.” Stagnancy and conservatism are essential facts of ghetto life. It is undoubtedly true that most Negroes desire the comforts and security that white people possess. There is little revolutionary consciousness or commitment to violence per se in the ghetto. Most of the people in the Newark ghetto were afraid, disorganized, and helpless when directly facing automatic weapons. But the actions of white America toward the ghetto are showing black people that they must prepare to fight back. The conditions are slowly being created for an American form of guerrilla warfare based in the slums. The riot represents a signal of this fundamental change.
To the conservative mind the riot is essentially anarchy. To the liberal mind it is an expression of helpless frustration. While the conservative is hostile and the liberal generous toward those who riot, both assume that the riot is a form of less-than-civilized behavior. The liberal will turn conservative if polite methods fail to stem disorder. Against these two fundamentally similar concepts, a third one must be asserted, the concept that a riot represents people making history.
The riot is certainly an awkward, even primitive, form of history-making. But if people are barred from using the sophisticated instruments of the established order for their ends, they will find another way. Rocks and bottles are only a beginning, but they get more attention than all the reports in Washington. To the people involved, the riot is far less lawless and far more representative than the system of arbitrary rules and prescribed channels which they confront every day. The riot is not a beautiful and romantic experience, but neither is the day-to-day slum life from which the riot springs. Riots will not go away if ignored, and will not be cordoned off. They will only disappear when their energy is absorbed into a more decisive and effective form of history-making.
Men are now appearing in the ghettos who might turn the energy of the riot into a more organized and continuous revolutionary direction. Middleclass Negro intellectuals and Negroes of the ghetto are joining forces. They have found channels closed, the rules of the game stacked, and American democracy a system which excludes them. They understand that the institutions of the white community are unreliable in the absence of black community power. They recognize that national civil-rights leaders will not secure the kind of change that is needed. They assume that disobedience, disorder, and even violence must be risked as the only alternative to continuing slavery.
The role of organized violence is now being carefully considered. During a riot, for instance, a conscious guerrilla can participate in pulling police away from the path of people engaged in attacking stores. He can create disorder in new areas the police think are secure. He can carry the torch, if not all the people, to white neighborhoods and downtown business districts. If necessary, he can successfully shoot to kill.
It is equally important to understand that the guerrilla can employ violence during times of apparent “peace.” He can attack, in the suburbs or slums, with paint or bullets, symbols of racial oppression. He can get away with it. If he can force the oppressive power to be passive and defensive at the point where it is administered—by the case-worker, landlord, storeowner, or policeman—he can build people’s confidence in their ability to demand change. Such attacks, which need not be on human life to be effective, might disrupt the administration of the ghetto to a crisis point where a new system would have to be considered.
These tactics of disorder will be defined by the authorities as criminal anarchy. But it may be that disruption will create possibilities of meaningful change. This depends on whether the leaders of ghetto struggles can be more successful in building strong organization than they have been so far. Violence can contribute to shattering the status quo, but only politics and organization can transform it.
The ghetto still needs the power to decide its destiny on such matters as urban renewal and housing, social services, policing, and taxation. Tenants still need concrete rights against landlords in public and private housing, or a new system of tenant-controlled living conditions. Welfare clients still need the power to receive a livable income without administrative abuse, or be able to replace the welfare system with one that meets their needs. Consumers still need to control the quality of merchandise and service in the stores where they shop. Citizens still need effective control over the behavior of those who police their community. Political structures belonging to the community are needed to bargain for, and maintain control over, funds from government or private sources. In order to build a more decent community while resisting racist power, more than violence is required. People need self-government. We are at a point where democracy—the idea and practice of people controlling their lives—is a revolutionary issue in the United States.
August 24, 1967