Unity & Power

 In 1970, together the African-American and Puerto Rican community successfully elected Kenneth Gibson as Newark’s first Black mayor. Even with the win, African-Americans continued to support one another against police repression. In 1973, Puerto Rican community activist Ramon Rivera was a victim of police brutality by Newark’s police tactical squad. Showing solidarity, the Black New Ark, covered Rivera’s arrest and called for the creation of a community police review board.

Crowd in Front of City Hall
Following the initial outburst, Mayor Gibson asked the crowd of Puerto Rican citizens to join him at City Hall and hopefully come to a resolution. They marched to from Branch Brook Park and gathered outside on its front steps in hopes of being heard.

BRANCH BROOK PARK: THE FINAL STRAW

One of the most important events of Puerto Rican culture and heritage in Newark was the celebration of Las Fiestas Patronales in Branch Brook Park. However, 1974 proved to be a year unlike any other. Mounted police interrupted a dice game. In the scuffle that followed, a little girl was nearly trampled. 

The incident served as the final straw and ignited the Puerto Rican riots of 1974. In an attempt to diffuse the situation, Mayor Gibson invited the community to city hall to voice their concerns. Once there, the community realized they needed representatives to negotiate with Gibson and founded the People’s Committee Against Repression and Police Brutality, spearheaded by community activists Sigfredo Carrion and Amiri Baraka.

Puerto Rican Leader Victimized by Newark Police - Black New Ark Newspaper
Black Newark often covered issues within the city’s Puerto Rican community. This article highlights an attack on Puerto Rican activist, Ramon Rivera. According to the article, Rivera was not allowed phone calls and was denied access to sanitary facilities and medical attention while in police custody.

“The establishment of a Police Review Board is one progressive change which is needed to insure equal enforcement of law and justice to the oppressed people here in Newark.”

—Black New Ark