A major part of the report was a review of information emerging from 24 disorders in 23 cities. The conclusions from this work are striking terms of their similarities (Yellow indicates quotation from report, white lettering represents my commentary, blue lettering indicates quotation from some earlier work, green lettering represents hyperlink):
* The final incident before the outbreak of disorder, and the initial violence itself, generally took place in the evening or at night at a place in which it was normal for many people to be on the streets.
* Violence usually occurred almost immediately following the occurrence of the final precipitating incident, and then escalated rapidly. With but few exceptions, violence subsided during the day, and flared rapidly again at night. The night-day cycles continued through the early period of the major disorders.
* Disorder generally began with rock and bottle throwing and window breaking. Once store windows were broken, looting usually followed. (yes, I said that this study came from 1967)
* Disorder did not erupt as a result of a single "triggering" or "precipitating" incident. Instead, it was generated out of an increasingly disturbed social atmosphere, in which typically a series of tension-heightening incidents over a period of weeks or months became linked in the minds of many in the Negro community with a reservoir of underlying grievances. At some point in the mounting tension, a further incident-in itself often routine or trivial-became the breaking point and the tension spilled over into violence. (so, this should lead to discussions of what was taking place in Baltimore over time, consultations of survey data from the black community, evaluations of the black press to identify what folks were talking about and potentially a discussion with community leaders)
* "Prior" incidents, which increased tensions and ultimately led to violence, were police actions in almost half the cases; police actions were "final" incidents before the outbreak of violence in 12 of the 24 surveyed disorders. (police violence is an old problem with the black community and one that should have been curbed earlier given its explicit connection to earlier riots)
* No particular control tactic was successful in every situation. The varied effectiveness of control techniques emphasizes the need for advance training, planning, adequate intelligence systems, and knowledge of the ghetto community. (interesting shift to socio-political control efforts/management as opposed to deeper discussion of root causes)
* Negotiations between Negroes--including your militants as well as older Negro leaders--and white officials concerning "terms of peace" occurred during virtually all the disorders surveyed. In many cases, these negotiations involved discussion of underlying grievances as well as the handling of the disorder by control authorities. (big difference. who were the authorities going to negotiate with. the NAACP seems largely disconnected from the black community and the militants were put in jail from the 1960s and 1970s seemingly not replaced with any organized black militant presence - linking back to an interesting article from Pam Oliver where she shows that state repression of social movements and crime control are connected to one another)
* The typical rioter was a teenager or young adult, a lifelong resident of the city in which he rioted, a high school dropout; he was, nevertheless, somewhat better educated than his nonrioting Negro neighbor, and was usually underemployed or employed in a menial job. He was proud of his race, extremely hostile to both whites and middle-class Negroes and, although informed about politics, highly distrustful of the political system.
* A Detroit survey revealed that approximately 11 percent of the total residents of two riot areas admitted participation in the rioting, 20 to 25 percent identified themselves as "bystanders," over 16 percent identified themselves as "counter-rioters" who urged rioters to "cool it," and the remaining 48 to 53 percent said they were at home or elsewhere and did not participate. In a survey of Negro males between the ages of 15 and 35 residing in the disturbance area in Newark, about 45 percent identified themselves as rioters, and about 55 percent as "noninvolved." (This broadly corroborated an evaluation of those arrested as well)
* Most rioters were young Negro males. Nearly 53 percent of arrestees were between 15 and 24 years of age; nearly 81 percent between 15 and 35.
* In Detroit and Newark about 74 percent of the rioters were brought up in the North. In contrast, of the noninvolved, 36 percent in Detroit and 52 percent in Newark were brought up in the North. (I'm not sure of where individuals in Baltimore came from historically but the larger question seems to be one of a cohort of individuals being brought up in a community and context which is broadly underdeveloped and over-policed. Yes, I will invoke the tv show the WIRE here for a second but obviously the coverage of the Baltimore PO-Lice [as they were pronounced] in the show was perhaps a bit less violent than might be appropriate)
* What the rioters appeared to be seeking was fuller participation in the social order and the material benefits enjoyed by the majority of American citizens. Rather than rejecting the American system, they were anxious to obtain a place for themselves in it. (Now this remains to be an interesting question. No one seems to be trying to figure out what rioter or protestors for that matter are putting forward regarding their grievances. Everyone is focused on the action and the violent action at that. Do not actions following from grievances however? The grievances might become focused by movements and spokespeople later but the mass, unfiltered grievances exist nonetheless. What were they? What are they? What will they become?)
* Numerous Negro counter-rioters walked the streets urging rioters to "cool it." The typical counter-rioter was better educated and had higher income than either the rioter or the noninvolved. (Perhaps no counter-rioter has received more coverage than the black mother out in the street, popping her child upside his head (shown below). Even my mother sided with the woman, which led to an interesting agreement to disagree as I went on to argue that her action was counter-productive to the larger point. I suggested that the mother should have been outside with her son teaching him a more effective way to change the system that resulted in black males being killed. She maintained that it was the fear of the violence and desire to protect that prompted the mother's response. While I understood the impulse, it was the aftereffect and its resonance that I found problematic. We should not be having a conversation about black mothers and sons [a topic that is near and dear to me as I am very much my mother's son]; rather, we should be talking about police violence and democratic accountability)
* The proportion of Negroes in local government was substantially smaller than the Negro proportion of population. Only three of the 20 cities studied had more than one Negro legislator; none had ever had a Negro mayor or city manager. In only four cities did Negroes hold other important policy-making positions or serve as heads of municipal departments. (This came from the belief that having more blacks in office would lead to better outcomes for black folk. I am not sure if the data on this exists and actually I always found the symbolic representation discussion kind of distracting. Shouldn't the question be has the political, economic, social, psychological and health condition of African Americans changed and what [if anything] has facilitated that change. I am not privileging black politicians as an explanation. I think that all possibilities should be explored with equal vigor. Similarly, I never accepted the argument that black incorporation into the police departments of America would resolve the problem of anti-black police violence for these brave individuals are being trained in a specific facility as well as surrounded by a particular community and culture that they are trying to survive within. This would more likely lead to isomorphic adaptation [i.e., assimilation and trying to fit it] than to a fundamental change in police practices.
Indeed, when writing my book How Social Movements Die involving policing in Detroit, I remember a particularly important section:
After two years of studying police-African American interactions, Burton Levy, the head of the Community Relations Division of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission, concluded that Detroit had a faulty police system, not just a few “rotten eggs”. Rather,
[This system] recruits a significant number of bigots, reinforces the bigotry through the department’s value system and socialization with older officers, and then takes the worst of the officers and puts them on duty in the ghetto, where the opportunity to act out the prejudice is always available (cited in Fine 2000, 95).
This resulted in a very bad situation throughout the ranks. Taken from a survey around 1967, it was found:
That white police officers] held “predominantly negative views of the black community.” Lower echelon white officers saw Detroit’s blacks as a “privileged minority… without real grievances, deficient in respect for law and order and ready to use violence to attain a still greater advantage vis-à-vis the white community…” Slightly more than 80 percent of the white patrolmen thought that the more blacks received, the more they wanted and the more likely they were to resort to violence to satisfy their desires. Detectives, sergeants, lieutenants, and inspectors largely shared these views (Detroit Free Press 1968).
Having a couple of black police or even several without changing the culture was not going to change anything.
* Although almost all cities had some sort of formal grievance mechanism for handling citizen complaints, this typically was regarded by Negroes as ineffective and was generally ignored. (Does your city have a police review system independent of the police department? Many of these were placed in police departments which kind of defeated the purpose.)
* Although specific grievances varied from city to city, at least 12 deeply held grievances can be identified and ranked into three levels of relative intensity: '
First Level of Intensity
1. Police practices
2. Unemployment and underemployment
3. Inadequate housing
Second Level of Intensity
4. Inadequate education
5. Poor recreation facilities and programs
6. Ineffectiveness of the political structure and grievance mechanisms
Third Level of Intensity
7. Disrespectful white attitudes
8. Discriminatory administration of justice
9. Inadequacy of federal programs
10. Inadequacy of municipal services
11. Discriminatory consumer and credit practices
12. Inadequate welfare programs
* The results of a three-city survey of various federal programs--manpower, education, housing, welfare and community action--indicate that, despite substantial expenditures, the number of persons assisted constituted only a fraction of those in need. (Changes from 1967? Good question)