Image: Time Magazine

On Wednesday in Newark, N.J., members of the community will gather at a memorial to 26 citizens of that city. Under an inscription — “We will forever remember the names of those whose lives were lost” — it lists the names of those who were killed during a riot that began 50 years ago.

But, as urban riots in recent history have drawn comparisons to those of a half-century ago, it’s clear that, while the names of the fallen are an important piece of history, there’s something else worth remembering, too.

The incident that sparked the Newark riot occurred during the early evening of July 12, 1967, when a black cab driver was beaten and arrested by two white police officers for a minor traffic infraction in Newark’s Central Ward area. As word of the incident spread, a crowd gathered outside police headquarters where the injured driver, who was rumored to be dead, was being held. Despite calls to remain calm, frustrated protesters, fed up with the lack of response to their concerns, began throwing rocks, breaking police station windows. Two days of looting followed — and when the looting stopped, the killing began, as New Jersey Governor Richard J. Hughes called in state troopers and the National Guard to restore order. The violence only escalated, resulting in the loss of life. By the time the fighting ended on July 17th, the level of property damage was massive, and injuries were in the hundreds.

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