Hunters Point Uprising

Newcomb and 3rd Street – Sept. 28, 1966

“On September 27, 1966 a white police officer shot and killed a seventeen-year-old African American teen, Matthew Johnson, Jr., as he fled the scene of a stolen car. Arthur Hippler wrote a book called Hunters Point: A Black Ghetto in which, among other things, he attempts to debunk the police account of the uprising (which was published as a pamphlet called 128 Hours). This account is based partly on his. For two hours after the shooting, a large, angry crowd milled about the site along Navy Road. The police, meanwhile, were hurrying the African Americans on the city’s Human Rights Commission over to the scene. Nathaniel Burbridge of the NAACP and Tom Fleming, editor at the Sun-Reporter newspaper in the Fillmore arrived at the Bayview Opera House public meeting in the early evening where the angry crowd pressed their demands that the cop be charged with murder, a concept that was incomprehensible to the assembled authorities. By the time Mayor Shelley arrived, the restive crowd was quick to jeer him and even throw tomatoes at him. When the Mayor promised them that Patrolman Johnson had been suspended, it was too late. The lone black supervisor, Terry Francois, known as a NAACP and civil rights defense lawyer, was jeered and pelted with rocks when he appeared. That night saw sporadic looting, rock-throwing and petty arson. ‘Community leaders’ tried to calm the situation the next day, but Police Chief Tom Cahill issued an ultimatum: calm by noon Wednesday or massive force would be introduced. Neighborhood leaders, mostly part of the middle-aged matriarchy and/or their ministerial allies, had nothing to offer the rebels and their pleas for calm went unheeded. Around six in the evening, a few hours after Governor Pat Brown authorized the use of the National Guard and Highway Patrol, the police responded to alleged gunfire by opening up on the Bayview Community Center and surrounding buildings. After riddling it with hundreds of bullets the police found no gunmen or weapons but only several pre-teen kids huddling in the corner. The long suppressed anger over the abysmal status imposed on African Americans was uncontainable, but even still the action was for the most part not terribly violent. …”
W – Hunters Point social uprising (1966)
Bay Area Television Archive: Public Comment on Bayview Hunters Point Uprising

Protesters on 3rd Street during the 1966 revolt in Hunter’s Point.

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