The white population had been flowing steadily out of Newark since the s. Jobs were leaving, too. During the s, 1, manufacturers left the city. Almost all the breweries shut down. Westinghouse and General Electric departed. The best jobs that remained in Newark were reserved for whites. Conflicts arose in the streets over these precious job opportunities in the business community and at city agencies. CORE led the fight for jobs and against police brutality. NCUP attracted local black activists, organizing rent strikes against unscrupulous landlords and joining with CORE to fight police transgressions.
On the second night of the Rebellion, I was driving around with three guys in my car. It was past the 10 pm curfew, but we needed to see what was going on in the streets. I was climbing up the hill on Court Street, heading west toward the Scudder Homes, when I heard the siren. It was a hot night; the windows of my white Ford Fairlane were down. We neared the corner of High Street—now Martin Luther King Boulevard—when I picked up the whirling lights of a Newark police car in my rearview mirror.
The siren was getting closer. They were coming for us. I pulled over to the grassy divider in the middle of Court Street. The squad car sped forward, angling in front of me, presumably to prevent our escape. Four cops jumped out, guns drawn, and ordered us out of the car with our hands up.
One of them had a shotgun. We stepped from the car as directed. We knew we were in big trouble. I had never before looked down the wrong end of a shotgun. It seemed like it was looking back at me.
I turned and assumed the position, hands on the roof of my car, legs spread wide. The pat-down produced no weapons. Still, these guys were scary. One cop ordered me to open my trunk, which I did without hesitation. I thought about my Virginia plates. There were no guns or contraband in my trunk—but there was anger in these cops. And there were no witnesses. I felt the cops were waiting for any sudden move. One was nervously jabbing his gun at us with vicious stabs, barking orders.
Maybe he had used these moves before, hoping the urban deer would make a break so he could shoot them down. We stayed cool. No outbursts, no eye contact with the hunter. Fortunately, one of the cops—a sergeant who seemed older and wiser—noticed the box of law books in my trunk. Was he really in charge?
We stayed put until the nervous one holstered his weapon. Shotgun man lowered his weapon, too. Just as quickly as they descended on us, they were gone, turning right on High Street, lights whirling into the night. I probably owe my life to that sergeant, and I am thankful for his intervention, whatever his motives.
Was he concerned about our safety—or afraid it would be hard to explain the killing of law students? It is hard to explain to anyone who was not there the climate of resistance in the streets during the s. People boycotted retail merchants who sold bad meat and schools that failed to properly educate children.
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People demonstrated against poorly managed, overcrowded public housing, and against rampant urban renewal that gobbled up residential neighborhoods without providing adequate replacement housing. And of course, they spoke out against police brutality. All that was left was the politics of confrontation. Up to , those confrontations had been nonviolent.
As for Mayor Addonizio, he seemed to be blind to the depth of anger in the streets. There were blacks working in City Hall.
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If there was police brutality, it was kept quiet within the police precincts…. It never was brought to our attention. Addonizio certainly knew about the killing of Lester Long. He apparently wanted to remove Hank Martinez, the officer who did the shooting. But, according to Reilly, under pressure from the police rank and file and the PBA, the administration minimized the punishment. Published reports said Martinez received a five-day suspension. He had bigger things in mind.
Within 48 hours of the start of the Rebellion, Governor Richard Hughes—responding to a plea for help from Addonizio—called in the National Guard. The state police had already been mobilized.
Violence and looting had escalated. I was somewhere in the Central Ward when I noticed an older woman walking back from a day of fishing in Weequahic Park. She watched as a young boy ran down the street, clutching groceries in his arms. A loaf of bread dropped to the ground.
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Why Newark cops no longer chase every stolen car. We saw how one pursuit went down.
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Welcome to Loot. Checkout Your Cart Price. Description Details Customer Reviews Some of the stories in this book are from my personal thoughts and feelings while performing my duties as a police officer that go from one situation to another. Fast moving episodes telling of life, death, unrest, and riots during some of the turbulent years from January, to June, in the city of Newark, New Jersey.
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