Newark civil rights organization The People’s Organization for Progress annually hosts its remembrance of the 1968 Newark Uprising. Each year rally is held at the Rebellion Monument Park, located on Springfield Street, followed by a march to the former 1st Precinct where the uprising began.
On July 12, 1967, two white Newark police officers arrested and brutally beat Black cab driver, John William Smith. The beating came as Newark was experiencing fierce racial tensions between Black citizens and white politicians who were running the city.
The night of the beating, an uprising ensued lasting four days leading to over 1,400 arrests, over 700 injuries, and it left 26 people dead. The uprising was part of what was known as “The Long Hot Summer” where 159 other cities also saw uprisings among Black citizens who were experiencing racial injustices across the country.
Decades later a statewide movement continues to have several major police reform bills passed into law, including the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) bill. If passed, the CCRB would mandate Civilian Review Boards with full subpoena power.
In 2021, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and other city officials announced that Newark’s 1st Precinct, located at 17th Avenue, will be closed by Dec. 31 and transitioned into the museum and the headquarters for the Office of Violence Prevention and Trauma Recovery. The precinct is where the 1967 Newark Uprising began.
Residents were asked to donate their artifacts about their experiences with injustice. The museum will also chronicle local activism and positive police changes along with stories of people’s struggle for justice.
“Re-imagining the precinct building where the Newark Rebellion began will remind us of our city’s history of fighting for justice while building a future where violence is seen as a public health issue in which policing is only one part of the solution,” said Baraka. “The museum will enable residents to both record Newark’s history and see it directly.”