Victims of the 1967 Newark Riot
Over the course of five days of rioting in Newark from July 13-July
17, 26 people were killed--all but two were African American. The two white
fatalities included a police detective, who was reportedly shot by a sniper,
and a fireman, killed by gunfire while responding to an alarm on Central
Avenue. Most of those killed during the riot were shot by police or National
Guard troops, some while allegedly looting or roaming the streets after
curfew. Several people, like Eloise Spellman, a mother of 11 children,
and Elizabeth Artis, a 68 year-old woman, were fatally wounded in their
own homes by a fusillade of National Guard/Police bullets aimed at suspected
snipers. The dead ranged in age from Eddie Moss, only 10 years old, who
was shot by National Guardsmen while riding in a car with his parents,
to Isaac Harrison, 73, who was shot by police while walking to his apartment.
Numerous others, including Joey Bass, age 12, were wounded. Injury estimates
range from 725 people (according to a New Jersey state police report),
to 1020 reported by the director of Newark City Hospital. Many lives, such
as those of Eloise Spellman's children, were irrevocably shattered.
JAMES SANDERS, Died 7/14/67 at 4:10am of gunshot wounds from
police. As sixteen year- old black youth, Sanders lived at 52 Beacon St
and James worked as a food distributor at a welfare center. According to
police records, James was shot while looting at Springfield Avenue and
Jones St. He may have been the youth that the Bergen Record of July 14
reported killed by two shots in the chest. According to the Newark News,
Sanders was killed by two Newark patrolmen as he ran with liquor bottles:
through a fence opposite 43 Jones St. That afternoon he had stopped to
see a friend at 298 Bergen, the same address where Rebecca Brown would
die two evenings later. Sanders’ father, who said James had never been
in trouble before, found his son in the City Morgue eight days after he
TEDOCK BELL, Died 7/14/67 at 4:30am of gunshot wounds. Bell,
a twenty eight year old black male, native of North Carolina, husband,
and father of four, who lived at 411 Bergen Street, was shot in the chest
by police at the corner of Magnolia and Bergen Streets, where a bar in
which he was employed had been broken into. In addition to bartending,
Bell was employed as a full-time machinist and had achieved notoriety as
a star basketball player in high school. Bell reportedly told his companions
not to run away from the police because “they weren’t doing anything wrong”.
As others ran for safety Bell stayed put. Then, a single officer approached
, at which point Bell ran. The officer chased and fired three times, striking
Bell in the chest from a distance of 5-10 yards. He continued to flee but
fell at the corner of Magnolia and Bergen St. He was taken to the hospital
by the brother of a neighbor, but was pronounced dead on arrival.
MARY HELEN CAMPBELL, Died 7/14/67 at 5:30 am in a car at the
corner of High and Spruce Streets. A thirty-one year old black woman who
lived at 380 Hawthorne, there is not much additional information about
Ms. Campbell. The police report states that she was sitting in a stationary
car when it was struck by a fire engine, while the Governor’s Select Commission
Report states her car struck the fire engine which resulted in her death.
Other accounts claim that she was run over by a police car or fire truck
around the same time on 17th Avenue.
JESSIE MAE JONES, Died 7/14/67 of gunshot wounds at her home
on 255 Fairmount Avenue around 7am. Mrs. Jones, a thirty-one-year-old mother
of seven children, employed at Hilltop Nursing Home was sitting on her
porch early Friday morning when she was shot by Eybind Chandler, a thirty-three-year-old
black man with a record of trouble with the police. Chandler had allegedly
been throwing bottles at cars when a white motorist stepped out of his
car to confront him. Chandler then reached for a gun and began chasing
the motorist. He fired a shot, which missed and struck Mrs. Jones in the
back of her head. Chandler was indicted for homicide in this case, but
other witnesses reported that Mrs. Jones had been killed by the white motorist.
Mrs. Jones and her daughter Dolores had been unable to sleep during the
night and had been sitting on the porch observing the fires and hearing
the gunshots around them until dawn.
RUFUS COUNCIL, Died 7/14/67 at 5:30pm of a gunshot wound to the
head while standing outside Roz’s restaurant, 69 South Orange Ave near
Wickliffe St. Council, a 32 year old black man and itinerant laborer from
North Carolina, left his wife and two teenage children behind in the South.
In Newark, he held a series of various temporary jobs, and was last employed
with a moving company. After finishing his dinner at Roz’s barbecue, Council
stepped out on the street and joined a crowd observing police and National
Guard troops firing into the nearby Scudder Homes. As he stood outside
on the corner, a caravan of police cars came up the street with officers
reportedly firing in the air. Council moved back toward the restaurant
and stood in the doorway when a police car pulled up to the curb. According
to eyewitness accounts, an officer exited from the back seat of the car
and pointed his service revolver at Council. Council put his hands up and
shook his head, begging the police officer not to shoot, but was shot in
the left side of his forehead. He died shortly thereafter. Hayden speculates
that Council was killed by police in revenge for the earlier shooting of
Detective Fred Toto, which occurred near Scudder Homes.
OSCAR (CURTIS) HILL, Died 7/14/67 around 6:30 pm of a gunshot
wound to the chest on or around Springfield Ave. up the hill from Scudder
Homes. Mr. Hill, a 50 year-old black man, worked at Spring Mountain Tavern
on Bell and Springfield, was a member of the American Legion and Bartenders
Union. He was last seen alive when he left work, wearing his American Legion
jacket, about 5 P.M. on Friday the 14th. His body was identified exactly
one week later in the morgue by his wife, from whom he had been separated
for some time.
ROBERT LEE MARTIN. Died 7/14/67 at 7pm. of police inflicted gunshot
wounds near the corner of Broome and Mercer. A twenty-two year old black
man, Martin worked nights for a maintenance company. He had come North
the previous year from Greenwood, Mississippi, with his parents, and six
brothers and sisters. According to the Governor’s Commision Report, Martin
went out with his brother-in-law early Friday evening to see what was going
on around the corner of Mercer and Springfield. A while later, police began
firing up the street. Martin thought they were firing in the air. He was
subsequently hit in the face by a bullet. His family reports that money
was taken from his body.
CORNELIUS MURRAY, Died 7/14/67 around 7pm of gunshot wounds by
police. A twenty-eight year old black male, husband and father of three
who lived at 16 Wainwright St., Murray worked for a local cable company.
Murray was shot and killed by Newark police while standing with relatives
near the R & R bar on Jones and Springfield Avenue. According to eyewitness
accounts, police were shooting all over the area. The circumstances of
his death are unclear. According to the July 24th issue of the Washington
Post, the police who killed Murray "suddenly came over the rooftops spraying
the street below with bullets." When Murray first was shot witnesses reported
a wound in the back. Later his father said that at the hospital he saw
a gash across the top of Murray's head and hole in his head. There were
$126 and a ring missing from Murray's body.
FRED TOTO, Died 7/14/67 at 7:30 p.m., at the corner of Broome
and Mercer Streets, from a .22 caliber bullet wound to the chest. A thirty
three year white police detective, Toto was on duty for twenty-four continuous
hours, rested briefly and then went back to work Friday afternoon. Patrolman
Paul Buttross was standing next to Toto when, according to Buttros, ‘we
heard some shots from an apartment house across the street. We all ducked
low but Fred stood up. I heard a shot, got some flying glass in my face
and when I turned around, Fred was down.”
ISAAC HARRISON, Died 7/14/67 around 8pm of gunshot wounds by
police as he was walking from his car to his apartment at Scudder Homes
Public Housing Project. Harrison, a 74 year old black man, originally from
Jamaica, was standing near his sons Virgil, Bussy, and Horace, all in their
thirties, when police began firing at Scudder Homes. Harrison’s son Virgil
was hit in the arm and then hit struck in the knee by bullets as he tried
to help his father get to safety. Isaac was struck in the chest and abdomen
and died on the scene. Eyewitnesses reported that police continued to fire
at the brick building for almost ten minutes. They expressed shock and
disbelief that the police were firing live ammunition at the apartment
complex. Police reported that they were returning fire from an alleged
sniper on the roof of the buildings, but they shot people standing at the
ground level. Another police account, included in the Kerner Commission
report states that police were pursuing looters who cut in front of a group
of spectators. This information is not confirmed by other sources.
EDDIE MOSS, Died, 7/14/67 at 8:30 p.m.,of a bullet wound to the
head. The exact location of his death is uncertain. Eddie, who was ten
years old at the time of his death, was a passenger carrying several members
of his family en route to the White Castle for dinner early Friday evening.
His father, who was driving, saw barricades on Elizabeth Avenue near the
White Castle, and slowed to a halt, but as he did so, National Guardsmen
opened fire. Mr. Moss drove around the barricades and stopped to let Eddie's
uncle jump out of the car to wave down the Guardsmen. Then with Eddie's
uncle back in the car, they drove away to escape further gunfire. When
they returned to their neighborhood, they found that their car had been
riddled with bullets and Eddie lay fatally wounded in the head with blood
spilled across the back seat. Police first reported that Eddie was killed
by sniper fire, but later said an investigation was pending.
LEROY BOYD, Died 7/14/67 around 10:30pm. at Belmont and Avon
Avenue of uncertain causes. A thirty seven year old black man, and native
of Virginia, lived at 322 Belmont Ave and worked at a paper company in
Elizabeth. Boyd was allegedly apprehended while looting a pharmacy on Belmont
Avenue. The suspects were reportedly lined up against the building, but
a bystander, Alfred Swift intervened and began insulting the police officers.
Police reports indicate that during the altercation with Swift, one of
the officer’s guns accidentally discharged fatally wounding Leroy Boyd.
Yet there are several alternative explanations for Boyd’s death. Boyd’s
son recalls hearing Swift fire a shot at one of the officers present at
the drug store, who happened to be black. Swift’s bullet supposedly missed
its intended target and hit Boyd. A funeral home director, however, reported
finding six .38 caliber bullets in Boyd’s body, the same caliber bullets
used by police. The county medical examiner ruled Boyd’s death a result
of blunt trauma. Boyd died on the sidewalk, Belmont and Avon.
RICHARD TALIAFERRO, Died 7/14/67 at 11:15pm of gunshot wounds
inflicted by police and state troopers near his home at 100 11th Avenue.
Taliaferro, a 25 year old black man, was wounded by police shotgun blasts
to his back while running down South 8th Street about a hundred feet from
a liquor store which was looted: Observers say he was "finished off" by
troopers in the street. A grand jury report states after being ordered
to halt by police, Taliaferro and companions “fired hand weapons at them”
to which police responded with their own fire. No such hand weapons were
actually found at the scene. Taliaferro was due to be inducted into the
army on July 21.
ALBERT MERSIER, JR., Died 7/14/67 at 11:55pm of gunshot wounds
from a police revolver. Mersier, a twenty year old black male, worked as
a laborer and lived with his parents and a younger sister at 117 Oliver
Street. Police say they shot and killed Mersier late Friday afternoon near
368 Mulberry Street as he was attempting to load a vacuum cleaner, allegedly
looted from a nearby burned-out appliance store, into his car. When he
saw the police, he attempted to flee. Police claim that Mersier refused
orders to halt.
MICHAEL PUGH, Shot 7/15/67 at 12:50am by national Guardsmen at
his home located at 340 Fifteenth Ave. A 12 year old black youth, Michael
was a sixth grade student who was planning to begin working in the summer
jobs program the next day. About midnight on Sunday, Michael's mother sent
him our with the garbage. The young man that Michael was with apparently
said something derogatory to the National Guardsmen who were on the corner.
In response, soldiers opened fire and killed Michael. He died around l
A.M on. Monday, July 16.
WILLIAM FURR, Died 7/15/67 at 2:55 p.m. of gunshot wounds administered
by police. A.twenty-four year-old African American male, Furr lived with
his father 2 Hollywood Avenue in Montclair. He had recently lost his job
at Fisher’s Bakery on Belmont Ave. a job he had held for five years. Several
witnesses, including Life reporters, observed Newark police shoot Mr. Furr
Saturday afternoon on Avon Avenue midway between Badger and Livingston.
Mr. Furr was observed carrying beer from Mack Liquors, which had been almost
completely looted prior to Saturday. Eyewitnesses say that police ordered
Furr to halt then gave chase and fired their weapons. Two shots from a
policeman’s shotgun hit Mr. Furr and a third seriously wounded Joey Bass,
a small boy, a bystander. For pictures of the police pursuit, captured
by a Life Magazine photographer, click here.
REBECCA BROWN, Died 7/15/67 at 6:30 pm at her home on 293 Bergen
Street. Mrs. Brown, a twenty nine year old black woman, native of Florida,
wife, and mother of four children, and nurse’s aide at Orange Memorial
Hospital, was killed when State Police and National Guardsmen fired a volley
of shots into her apartment and surrounding buildings She was shot in the
abdomen trying to pull her two year old daughter, Delano, to safety. Police
reports claim that a “sniper” may have shot her, although several eyewitness
accounts place Guardsmen and State Police at the scene. According to Mrs
Brown’s husband, who arrived from work after his wife was shot, police
tried to prevent him from seeing her body.
ELOISE SPELLMAN, Died 7/15/67 around 7:30pm of gunshot wounds
from police at her home at 322 Hunterdon Avenue, apt. 10E. Mrs. Spellman,
a 41 year old mother of eleven children whose husband had died several
years previously, was a resident of the Hayes Homes Public Housing Project.
Spellman was shot in the neck by gunfire as she peeked through her window.
Her daughter caught her as she fell, got her brothers and neighbors, then
waited forty-five minutes for an ambulance. The family learned late Sunday
morning that their mother was dead. Hers was one of several apartments
on the side of Hayes Homes facing the 16th Avenue firehouse which were
hit by gunfire as police, state troopers and guardsmen they strafed suspected
snipers. Mrs. Spellman lived on the tenth floor of a thirteen-story building;
bullet marks were visible on Hayes windows from the sixth floor up.
HATTIE GAINER, Died 7/15 around 8pm of gunshot wounds. Mrs. Gainer,
a fifty-three year old African American woman lived at 302 Hunterdon Street.
On Saturday evening, after shooting several rounds of fire into nearby
Hayes Homes, where suspected snipers were holed up, state troopers moved
toward toward Hunterdon Street where further incidents of sniping were
reported. They then began shooting at resident’s houses. Mrs. Gainer was
struck in the chest by a bullet that came through the window of her second
floor apartment. She died in the presence of three grandchildren, who ranged
in age from three to seven years old. Her daughter recalled police saying;
"We made a mistake. We’re killing innocent people”, as Mrs. Gainer lay
on the floor of her house. Mrs. Gainer had lived in the community for twenty
MICHAEL MORAN, Died 7/15/67 of gunshot wounds from suspected
snipers at the scene of a fire at Central and South 7th. Street. A 41 year
old white firefighter, Moran lived at 66 Eastern Parkway. A few minutes
after 10 p.m. Saturday, Moran responded to a fire alarm on Central Avenue,
a short distance from the station at Central and Ninth. It turned out,
according to a signed personal statement of Fire Director John Caulfield,
published in the July 17 Star-Ledger, that there was no fire visible at
the site of the alarm. Caulfield with Moran decided to enter the building.
Firemen broke open the second floor window. Caulfield told the Star-Ledger,
“the sniper opened fire”. …There were in fact some reporters at the scene
of the Moran shooting who felt the shots were coming from police. Some
newspapers, such as the Washington Post, decided to leave unanswered the
question of who killed the fire captain.
RAYMOND HAWK, Died 7/15/67 at 10:06 pm of gunshot wounds by police
near 949 Freylinghuysen Avenue in the area of Dayton Street. Hawk, a twenty-four
year old black male, husband and father, lived at 143 Spruce St. . Hawk
was by himself in the deserted street when police drove up and firing shots
down the alley at supposed looters. He was shot dead in the street as he
was trying to get to his car.
ROSE LEE ABRAHAM, age 45, Died 7/15/67 as a result of injuries sustained
on 7/14/67 around 11:45pm . Mrs. Abraham, an African American mother of
six children, was shot by police outside her
home on 42 Blum St. near Springfield Ave. Awakened by noise outside, she
went onto her porch searching for her children when police fired into a
crowd gathered nearby. Mrs. Abraham was shot in the hip and stomach, and
was taken to Newark City Hospital by her husband. After waiting six hours
to be operated on, Mrs. Abraham died of her wounds some 24 hours later.
She was survived by her husband
ELIZABETH ARTIS, Died 7/16/67 at 4:35 am at her home on 38 Prince
St. A sixty-eight year old black woman, Ms. Artis, who had been suffering
from a heart condition for four years became frightened by the sound of
heavy gunfire in the neighborhood and suffered a fatal heart attack.
VICTOR LOUIS SMITH, Died 7/16/67 around 8:25am of a reported
drug overdose. A twenty two year-old resident of 32 Barclay St, Smith was
found dead in a hallway at 26 Edmond Place. Police report observing needle
marks on his arms.
JAMES RUTLEDGE, Died 7/16/67 at 5:15pm of a gunshot wound from
a state trooper’s revolver. A nineteen year-old black man, Rutledge lived
at 171 Lehigh Avenue and held a variety of odd jobs. He was inside the
boarded-up Joe-Rae Tavern on at the corner of Bergen Ave. and Custer St.
Sunday afternoon when State Troopers and police broke in. James gave himself
up, but was shot point-blank by a trooper. Photographs show that James
was hit by about thirty-nine bullets in the chest alone, as well as numerous
.38 caliber shells and shotgun blasts to his entire body. No one was held
criminally responsible for his death.
RAYMOND GILMER, Died 7/18 around 1am of a bullet wound to the
back of the head. Gilmer, a 20 year-old black male, with a juvenile criminal
record, was living temporarily with his wife and four children at his mother's
house on Bergen Street. At the time, he was employed employed at State
Produce loading potato sacks. For reasons that are unknown, police were
pursuing Gilmer when he parked his car near Clinton and Jelliff and ran
across the street toward an alley. The police were observed to pull up
and fire several shots striking Gilmer in the back. Officers then proceeded
to search his car. Witnesses stated that nothing was discovered. In the
search. By contrast, police claimed that Gilmer had shot at them, and claimed
to have found a.38 caliber handgun along with a knife, stolen clothes,
and binoculars in Gilmer’s car.