1960's Police Brutality-Harlem Riot of 1964

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Harlem Riot of 1964

The 1960’s are usually associated with Civil Rights and Woodstock. Well those are two of the key events that made the 1960’s as we know it today. The Harlem Riot of 1964 was only one of three riots that happened since the founding of Harlem, New York. The ironic thing about this one particular riot is that it occurred just two weeks after President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The situation behind the riot was all over “police brutality”. On July 16, Police Lt. Thomas G. Gilligan killed 15 year old James Powell. Supposedly, Powell and two other friends were involved in horseplay with a building superintendent, Patrick Lynch. Lynch supposedly sprayed the boys with his garden hose. The two other boys chased Lynch and as Powell went to follow along with them, Lt. Gilligan intervened and shot at him twice, the second bullet being fatal.

Lt. Gilligan claims that Powell came at him with a knife and that he was only trying to protect himself. Later on in the year, a grand jury found Lt. Gilligan not guilty and did not face any criminal charges. The black community of New York was highly angered at this decision and decided to take matters into their own hands, sparking the Harlem Riot of 1964.

The north and the south have struggled with civil rights, mostly known as two different forms of segregation. Although, this riot shows that both the north and south are facing the same issue, civil disobedience. Congress Of Racial Equality (CORE) set up a rally on 125th street in Harlem. At first, the rally was intended for the three missing Mississippi civil rights workers. Well, that all changed after CORE heard about this. They then shifted the mean for the rally to the severe issue of police brutality. Ever since CORE was established, police brutality was their main concern. A few types of examples of police brutality was spraying the black crowds with a fire hose, attack dogs, and physical abuse with weapons (bats)....
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