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.
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.
“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