Fifty years ago, the city of Newark, New Jersey experienced a string of violent riots after two white police officers stopped and beat up a black taxi driver on July 12 in a community that had suffered decades of social frustration caused by poverty and racial profiling.
While more than half a century has passed, many of the issues at the heart of the protests continue to divide the country today.
Here’s how the riots started, how the police responded, and how it set the stage for the future police brutality protests.
In the late 1960s, Newark was suffering from high poverty rates, lack of good job opportunities, and chronically underfunded schools. The largely African American population was also dealing with police profiling and lack of political representation.
Source: Seton Hall University
While problems such as these festered for many years, frustration came to a head when two white police officers pulled over and beat up black taxi driver John William Smith.
Source: The Guardian
After a false rumor spread that Smith had died in police custody, people gathered around the station and started throwing rocks and bottles.
Source: NBC News