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Distant sounds of breaking glass

Will Bunch in Philly, still plugging away:

Then something approached, like a gathering storm.

“I heard a distant sound, like a rally of noise and people -- like when people fight, with cheering and jeering, and it seemed far away,” recalled [Richard] Watson, now 68, grey-haired and soft-spoken. “Then I heard breaking glass. Then I heard more breaking glass, and it sounded like it was on my block!

“That’s when I said, ‘Whoa, what’s going on here?’ Then I heard the sirens.”

It was the Philly Riots of 1964.

Today at 22nd and Cecil B. Moore, which was Ground Zero for the 1964 riot, there is a bizarre vibe, as if time came to a stop that Friday night. There is no sense that shoppers once walked these streets, which were redolent with fresh vegetables on pushcarts or today’s ocean catch glistening in store windows. Instead, buildings with rusted-out tin facades and plywood windows alternate like moldy chess pieces with weedy green patches of grass; on 22nd, the front door of an empty building throws wide open to a room littered with food cartons and trash; a nearby man nearby sunk into a folding chair asks a stranger to buy him a soda. It’s impossible not to think:

What the hell happened here?

Read the whole thing; Will Bunch is old-school, one of the greats.

The moral I draw: Anybody who says property damage isn't violence is an idiot. Or worse. I'm not making a moral judgment. I'm just saying, trying to think strategically, what is.

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Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

not seriously addressed, very soon.

(Frankly, was pretty young during the Philly riots--don't remember hearing much about them, compared to South Central LA a number of years later.)

I've already seen "apologetic" pieces regarding the Holder US Attorney Offices not being able to bring charges against the Officer who killed Brown. (Rodney King's beating/incident apparently was quite an exception to the rule.)

"Nonprosecution" could wind up being the straw that broke the camel's back, and a catalyst for much broader protests across the US. So, I hope the Justice Dept "dots its ps and qs" when they render their decision.

(I sure wouldn't want to be the one making the decision, or making the announcement, if they don't file charges.)