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Thursday, August 28, 2014

50 years ago today.. Aug 28-30 1964: Philadelphia Race Riot

There have been many documented instances over the years of rioting in major urban areas due to either alleged police brutality or racial tensions so high that that it only needed a spark whether something real or mere rumor to explode into a scary ordeal

Being that we've spent so much time discussing race in America today and comparing how the media and minority population has treated the police killings of Michael Brown (black) vs Dillon Taylor (white), we thought we'd go back in time to an event which occurred 50 years ago today..

The Philadelphia race riot wasn't as big or bloody or got the same national attention as the 1964 Watts riots in LA or the 1968 riots in Detroit, but it still affected many people and there were repercussions that serve as lessons for today and beyond..
~ Looters using the riot as excuse to take anything they want..

It took place in the predominantly black neighborhoods of North Philadelphia (home to 400k to 600k of the city's black residents) from August 28 to August 30, 1964.  

According to Wikipedia (in blue):

Tensions between black residents of the city and police had been escalating for several months over several well-publicized allegations of police brutality...

The Philadelphia Police Department had tried to improve its relationship with the city's black community assigning police to patrol black neighborhoods in teams of one black and one white officer per squad car and having a civilian review board to handle cases of police brutality.
Despite the improvement attempts of the Philadelphia Police Department, racial tensions had been high.. The Philadelphia Tribune, the city’s black newspaper, ran several articles on police brutality which often resulted in white policemen who were brought up on charges of brutality being acquitted...

The unrest began on the evening of August 28 after a black woman named Odessa Bradford got into an argument with two police officers, one black, Robert Wells, and the other white, John Hoff, after her car stalled at 23rd Street and Columbia Avenue.

Because Bradford's car had stalled, and she was unable to drive it, an argument between her and the two officers ensued. 

The officers then tried to physically remove Bradford from the car. As the argument went on, a large crowd assembled in the area. 
A man tried to come to Bradford's aid by attacking the police officers at the scene, both he and Bradford were arrested.

Rumors then spread throughout North Philadelphia that a pregnant black woman had been beaten to death by white police officers. 

Later that evening, and throughout the next two days, angry mobs looted and burned mostly white-owned businesses in North Philadelphia, mainly along Columbia Avenue. Outnumbered, the police response was to withdraw from the area rather than aggressively confront the rioters.

Although no one was killed, 341 people were injured, 774 people were arrested and 225 stores were damaged or destroyed in the three days of rioting. 
Some of the tension was attributable to religion, with Black Muslims and black nationalists pitted against Black Baptist ministers who called for calm.

Business activity in North Philadelphia declined even further after the riots, as many of the damaged or destroyed stores never re-opened for business.."

So to summarize, you had a black population looking to pick a fight with law enforcement over perceived police brutality by local law enforcement egged on by a black newspaper in a heated social climate that was the same year the Civil Rights Act was passed..

And the riot and all the destruction and physical injury that followed was based not on a real victim suffering at the hands of police but a rumor..  something pretend and not true.
~ North Philly today... 

And to those blacks who started then kept the riot going for three days, it really didn't matter to check the validity of whether a black pregnant woman was killed or not..

It was about getting revenge and attacking the system and 'whitey' via the destruction of businesses they owned and operated to serve that community.

And the North Philly population got their little victory.. They scared the hell out of law enforcement, the local business community and the rest of the city..

And where do things stand now?
North Philly is among the poorest and most dangerous places in the nation to live. Its where the campus of Temple University is located

 So much violence goes on along with an active drug trade and prostitution, that even blacks who live there want to desperately get out for a better life..

The riots killed off the businesses in that area which in turn kill off jobs and opportunity to make money legally, and those sewer rats of 1964 basically sabotaged their home for generations later to still feel the repercussions

All because of the desire to destroy and cause physical suffering to others based on fiction; a rumor
And the Black Muslims.. pieces of refuse like Farrakhan of today played upon and stoked the fears and angers of a simple, uneducated populace to react with violence when channels had been set up via police for legal recourse for actions of brutality..

This was the big struggle of the black community in the 1960s.. The peaceful black Baptist movement led by Dr. King and the violent radical thug black Muslim element led by Malcolm X among others..

And when King was killed in 1968, all the riots and looting and killing which followed were perpetrated by the same violent animals who wanted to use fear and destruction to overthrow and change society so they would be the rulers...
The biggest lesson from the Philadelphia Riot is this..  If people, particularly in the minority community are feeling anger and rage against an entity, a System or 'whitey',  truth and reality mean nothing..

All they want and need is some spark to allow them to attack in large numbers..

No one can ever call themselves a 'victim' or play race-card games and expect any empathy while perpetrating the tactics of a savage or terrorist.