2014 is the 50th Anniversary of the anti-cop Harlem Race Riots, which spilled into Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant. Is it “coincidence” that two NYPD officers were executed in that very neighborhood?
Or is it indicative of something far more sinister?
At the time, I was a young British “Bobby” on the beat in England. I remember this so well, reading about these riots and worrying, to some degree, if this could ever happen in England. I took the trouble to try to understand just how this had happened and why it had progressed so rapidly across America.
This is how it was reported…
Harlem Race Riot (1964) … http://www.uncoveringyonkers.com/harlem-race-riot-1964.html.. Christina Vignone
New York City’s third Harlem race riot began much like its predecessors with an incident bringing residents to the streets. On July 16, 1964 Patrick Lynch, the superintendent of an apartment building on East 76th Street, sprayed a group of young boys with a hose while they were playing outside. After a confrontation, Lynch entered the building with James Powell, one of the teenagers originally from Harlem, in pursuit. Off-duty Lieutenant Thomas Gilligan watched as the events unfolded and chased the rest of the boys inside. He showed his shield to the group but shot and killed Powell, claiming the boy lunged at him with a knife. Unlike the 1935 and 1943 race riots, crowds protesting this incident of race-based policing gathered not only in Harlem but also in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn as well, demonstrating that
“the actions in 1964 proved to be the beginning of an urban black protest throughout the country.”
Demonstrators carrying photographs of Lieutenant Thomas Gilligan march on 125th Street near Seventh Ave. during the Harlem Riots of 1964.
In both boroughs, crowds beat on cars driven by white people, broke store windows and threw Molotov cocktails at the police while chanting, “Blood for blood.” Over the next two months protests spread to Rochester, Paterson, Jersey City and Elizabeth, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Dixon, Chicago as well. The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) condemned the New York Police Department as well as the District Attorney for exonerating Gilligan of Powell’s death, which mirrored
|…many members of the Negro community [who] expressed the opinion that if the Powell youth had been white he would have been treated differently by the white police officer and might still be alive.Footnotes|
Theodore James, “NEGRO BOY KILLED; 300 HARASS POLICE: Teen-Agers Hurl Cans and Bottles After Shooting by Off-Duty Officer,” New York Times, July 17, 1964. ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2008) with Index (1851-1993), 1.
 “Verdict in Harlem,” New York Times September 2, 1964. ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2008) with Index (1851-1993), 36.
 Joseph Boskin, “The Revolt of the Urban Ghettos, 1964-1967,” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science , Vol. 382, Protest in the Sixties (Mar., 1969), 1-14, 7.
 Paul L. Montgomery and Francis X. Clines, “THOUSANDS RIOT IN HARLEM AREA; SCORES ARE HURT: Negroes Loot Stores, Taunt Whites — Police Shoot Air to Control Crowd,” New York Times, July 19, 1964. ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2008) with Index (1851-1993), 1.
A few years later, then a young Detective, I was assigned to New Scotland Yard in London to help start up a new Unit which had the ostentatious name of “The Revolutionary Criminality Unit”. This Unit had been started by my Detective Chief Superintendent, Cyril Holdaway, a quite remarkable man, he had a brilliant brain, years ahead of his peers. He was also tenacious, nicknamed “the Tank”, because he was fearless and unstoppable, he was also tenacious!. I remember the man, a few years earlier, as a uniformed Officer, he had chased a pedal cycle red rear light for over twelve miles in the middle of the night to catch the thief!.
Organized crime was just then becoming a major problem, not just major crime of the “old” sort but frequently major crime with a subversive bent. The “Alternative Society” and drug culture was in full swing and intertwined was a Political aspect not previously seen. Communism was still a quietly spoken word, but we were seeing violently anti-social grouping of Anarchy, Marxism, Mao-ism and with it a sharp increase in the rise of Trade Unions espousing leftist philosophy, in other words, the rise of the Left. There was a war going on between Northern and Southern Ireland, with the Northern Irish and recently formed Provisional IRA showing strong Marxist tendencies and the drive and power to promote that ideology. It is much mis-understood, but the English were involved in the fight to try to prevent having a Marxist State develop in the Heart of Great Britain, Northern Ireland. Oh sure, the old English / Irish argument had been going on for years, but I think it would have settled long before had the “Provisionals” not come into the fight with extreme violence, bombing, kidnapping, and torture.
So we were a country becoming emerged in Political issues. My Boss, and other Senior Police Officers had figured out through the eyes and ears of the Special Branch that the Political Ideology was being spread by having been taught in Prisons. Ideological Irish terrorist prisoners were actively teaching the other inmates of our prisons how to make bombs, and carry out guerilla warfare against Law and Order.
My Unit at Scotland Yard monitored this activity for several years, plotting its growth, its personalities and the world wide spread amongst like minded groups. It was not long before Cuba became noticed and it was found to be highly active and running several different types of Terrorist training camps for all of the Groups from around the world. Basque Separatists, FALN, FARC, Red Hand, Red Army Faction and Baader Meinhof to name but a few of the real Revolutionaries. Several Countries were sending their innocent youth in the hopes that these youths would join one or other Movement. The most noticeable of these, was perhaps the “Venceremos” Brigades which consisted of large numbers of young people from all over, ostensibly to assist the poor Cuban peoples agricultural programs, but in fact these also became terrorists and trainees.
 Paul L. Montgomery and Francis X. Clines, “THOUSANDS RIOT IN HARLEM AREA; SCORES ARE HURT: Negroes Loot Stores, Taunt Whites — Police Shoot Air to Control Crowd,” New York Times, July 19, 1964. ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2008) with Index (1851-1993), 1..
I became well acquainted with the American Groups, in particular The Weatherman, but many others also and many individuals.
In 1980 I settled in America and became a Citizen. I studied and enjoyed the United States Constitution. In 2007 I became interested in the identity of the person trying to get elected President of this great Country. He was particularly of interest to me just because no one knew his real identity and it was quite obvious he was not about to explain.
As Yogi Berra once (allegedly) said ….. It’s Deja-vu all over again!