North Philadelphia was the city’s center with a huge number of the African-American population. The riot took place in the neighborhood of North Philadelphia between black residents and police. This riot was one of the first in civil rights era, and after this 1964 Rochester race riot and Harlem riot of 1964 took place. The Philadelphia Tribune which was the city’s black newspaper, use to write several articles on police brutality and racial discrimination against African-Americans. There were several articles about white police officers who were freed from the charges of brutality.
Despite all the efforts of the Philadelphia Police department, racial tension was at its peak over the matter of police brutality. The Philadelphia Police Department started assigning police to the black neighborhood as an effort to improve their relationship with the city’s black community. However, during the summer of 1964 riots start breaking out in other black areas of northern cities such as New York, Rochester, Jersey City and Elizabeth. The reason behind the rise of the riots was police brutality against black citizens.
Th conflict began when a black lady Odessa Bradford, refused to move her car out of the intersection at 23rd Street and Columbia Avenue. The black woman was arguing with her boyfriend in the car. The police officers tried to remove her from the car which worsens the situation. A large angry crowd gathered around the area. Another man tried to help Bradford while attacking the police officers. Eventually, both Bradford and the man were arrested.
On the other hand throughout the whole North Philadelphia, the rumors started spreading that black pregnant women had been beaten to death by two white officers. The rumor worsens the situation. During the next two days, the furious masses looted the white-owned businesses. The angry mob outnumbered the police. Philadelphia Police department decided to withdraw from the area instead of aggressive confrontation.
Although no one was killed during the riots, 314 people were injured, and police arrested 774 people. 225 stores were also damaged during the riot. The business activity also declined in North Philadelphia, the stores that were looted never re-opened for business. Fictionalized version of these riots was depicted in the first season finale of the NBC television series “American Dreams.”