Newark’s 1974 Puerto Rican Riots Through Oral Histories


  • Nicole Torres



This article includes contents of recorded oral histories from Sigfredo Carrion, William Sanchez, Gustav Heninburg, and Raul Davila recounting the events that took place in Branch Brook Park in 1974; events also known as the Puerto Rican Riots. These events were witnessed by members of the Puerto Rican community living in the city at the time, as well as respected members of the city council and leaders of social activist groups. These oral histories were carefully read and analyzed in order to construct a brief and comprehensive retelling of those events for those unfamiliar with the subject. Much of the evidence used was found in the New Jersey Hispanic Research and In-formation Center located at the Newark Public Library. This article also examines the frustrations and concerns facing the Puerto Rican community as told by those who experienced them firsthand, and explains the breaking point that led the community to finally come together and de-mand their voices be heard. The results of this uprising led to the creation of local organizations, such as La Casa de Don Pedro, and the construction of a more visible Puerto Rican identity with-in the city.