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Violent Clashes between Negroes and Police in Harlem

June 18, 1963 - A minor street incident in Harlem set off a series of violent clashes between Negroes and the police last night. Several persons were injured, including 2 policemen, and at least 27 were arrested. The area for several blocks around the intersection of 125th St. and Seventh Ave. was closely guarded much of the night by hundreds of helmeted policemen posted a few yards apart. Witnesses said the trouble began at the intersection about 9:30 p.m., when a white policeman ordered a Negro vendor of ices to move on. The vendor protested loudly, and a crowd quickly gathered. Two youths joined the vendor, and a scuffle followed. Two stones shattered the windows of a jewelry store at the corner, and a flying bottle struck a patrol car. Police reinforcements placed two persons under arrest to angry shouts from the crowd. One noisy group formed a half-block north of the intersection in front of a store that is the headquarters of the African Nationalists, an extremist group. Its windows bear a picture of a police dog biting a Negro, and a sign reading “Damn white men.” A line of policemen sought to push this group away and was shoved back. Street traffic was halted as the numbers of demonstrators and policemen grew. At about 11:15, several trash cans were set afire and scattered into the street. At this, club-swinging policemen moved in from several directions. A number of persons fell, one bleeding from the head. Patrolman Dennis Madden was knocked down and suffered a cut forehead. Patrolman Joseph Dertinger was struck on the arm by a bottle, apparently hurled from a roof. He was taken to Harlem Hospital. The police estimated that 1,000 persons were in the scattered crowds at their height. Officials on the scene said the disturbances appeared to have been entirely spontaneous and unconnected with any Harlem organization.


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