From Riot to Revolt: Asbury Park in July 1970

Daniel Weeks


This paper investigates the civil unrest that rocked the New Jersey resort city of Asbury Park for four days in July 1970. It focuses particularly on how various participants and the media represented the violent events in the West Side of the city. These representations, which were publicized in the Asbury Park Press, the New York Times, and elsewhere, demonstrate two interrelated dynamics. First, that in attempting to characterize the events in Asbury Park as either as a criminal riot or justifiable revolt participants on all sides resorted to well-worn stereotypes, and second, that these stereotypes, once publicized in the media, began to shape events in the city in consequential ways. This study also demonstrates that the civil unrest moved through several phases from a teenage "rock and bottle festival" to a true revolt against discrimination, segregation, and the general conditions of the ghetto.

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