Thank you "R1..." and "mack". Certainly, anyone that was around then remembers this.
Most known riots of the past occurred in Washington, D.C., parts of New York City, Newark, N.J., L.A. City in 1992, even smaller cities like Hartford, Ct had their share.
I remember becoming of legal drinking age in Connecticut and sitting at a bar watching the news when Martin Luther King got shot. Everybody knew there would be trouble then. And there was. Within the first few hours the news was reporting riots breaking out in several cities across the country.
The LA riots of 1992. Many of us saw on live TV buildings being looted and set on fire. We saw one innocent truck driver just because he was driving in the wrong place, at the wrong time, be beaten after being dragged from his truck.
Although not considered a riot, the Blackout of 1977 in New York City with over 2,000 arrest and about 2,000 serious fires, should probadly be classified as a riot. Same thing happened, looting, fires, arrest, people injuried etc. One looter referred to the lights going out in NYC as "a Gift from God", apparently allowing him to loot and burn.
Whatever the reason, we haven't seen a riot in a long time. I sure hope it stays that way.
As many of us know, Newark is still a very tough city to this day. I remember going down there to watch a New Jersey Devils hockey game at the Prudential Center in Downtown Newark. It was clear, if you walked too far in a certain direction, it's very likely you'd be in trouble. Also, the Newark Fire Department still responds to the most "Working Fires"(or Signal 11's as they're called there) out of any fire department in New Jersey, despite being cut in half from what it was during the riots, 46 years ago this month.
I believe the riots of the mid 1960s seemed to initiate the FDNY War Years, and the War Years in other cities, better than any other event or trigger or cause. Even though fire activity was increasing slowly as the 1960s began, the civil disobedience and arson and lack of law and order following the 1964 Harlem Race Riots (which spread to Bed Sty and other parts of Brooklyn) seemed to be both the template for neighborhood destruction and accepted by city officials. 1967 saw widespread riots starting in Newark and spilling over into many cities, again with widespread looting and blatant arson. 1968 was the year MLK was asassinated and riots erupted. Civil disobedience was almost accepted by politicians. If you look at NYC fire statistics, 1968 was the year that serious fires jumped over 50% - in one year! FDNY jumped from about 2000 serious fires a year to over 3000, just from 1967 to 1968. The numbers of fires would continue to increase into the 1970s. Althought there were many causes of the War Years, I still believe the riots seemed to provide not only the spark, but also the political cover - the ability for politicians to ignore the arson, then the false alarms, garbage fires, ADVs, vacant buildings and overall lawlessness that continued to grow and spread in NYC, Newark, Cleveland, Boston, DC, Buffalo and most of our major cities.
In 1968 I was assigned to a unit @ Tan Son Nhut AB in Saigon. I was there when the King assasination was announced. Emotions were high. There were severe race relatons then, black ems/nco clubs vs whitey. Base comander called out all units to parade rest. He said that all those who were upset report to the weapons site, we will give you a M-16 and 200 rounds, 20 clips and chopper you out into hell! PS Any combat vet will tell you 19 rounds in a clip, 20 bent the spring. Watch any good Vietnam movie, assault troops will always hit their clip on their helmets. Just a FAC who put maximum ar support on the bad guys!! No matter what the record says Vietnam vets got it done. Walter Cronkite and Jane Fonda deserve each other, they sold every Vietnam soldier down the river. I would not piss on Fonda/Cronkite if his head was on fire. Personnal opinion. Do not want to upset others, just an old school bastard who was raised by another old school bastard, whose son is another old school bastard. He will be there. Will you. BFD, CFD, FDNY and every other POC, Vollie and others will answer your call. Support them!!!!!!!!!!
I believe as "Mack" said, "the riots were the start of the FDNY War Years. Of course there were other reasons too that sparked the huge increase in fires over the years, but I also agree that the riots with its looting and burning set the stage for the FDNY War Years and the War Years of arson that so many other cities began to face.
Until this was mentioned as to the start of those War Years, I had never really given much thought to what started this dramatic increase in fires over a few short years. I think for some of us, we may have just found the answer. Coupled of course with arson for profit, revenge, and some other social issues.
Those who were around to live and see this as it happened got an education that no college could ever offer. And it is an education that will never be forgotten.