Newark unveils plan for museum, anti-violence office at notorious police station

Newark officials on Monday unveiled plans to convert a police precinct into a museum focusing on the 1967 riots that erupted in the state’s largest city after a Black taxi driver was beaten by police.

The Newark Community Museum will replace the police division’s 1st Precinct on 17th Avenue and house the city’s Office of Violence Prevention and Trauma Recovery, according to Mayor Ras Baraka’s office.

“Re-imagining the Precinct building where the Newark Rebellion began will remind us of our City’s history of fighting for justice while building a future where violence is seen as a public health issue in which policing is only one part of the solution,” Baraka said in a statement.

“The museum will enable residents to both record Newark’s history and see it directly. The Office of Violence Prevention and Trauma Recovery will continue its effective work of involving the community in solutions that reduce violence and trauma,” the mayor said.

City Historian Junius Williams will work with other officials and an advisory committee to convert the police station into a “place where Newark residents’ movement for justice and celebration of life will be on permanent display,” the mayor’s office statement said.

Residents can also donate artifacts to the collection, officials said. Exhibits will document local activism and positive changes in city policing.

The 1st Precinct, then called the 4th Precinct, was where taxi driver John Smith was dragged into after being attacked by police 54 years ago. The July 12, 1967 beating sparked five days of unrest that left 26 people dead, hundreds injured and widespread damage across the city.

“There is a negative history in that building,” Baraka said. “We are going to set it on a course of positivity.”

The city used architecture and design firm Gensler to develop the museum’s plan and released conceptual renderings of the structure. The police precinct is set to close by Dec. 31, officials said.

Newark’s police department has undergone sweeping reforms, including being placed under a federal monitor and being organized under the city’s Department of Public Safety.

Last year, Newark created the Office of Violence Prevention and Trauma Recovery, which was initially funded with $5 million of the public safety budget, to manage anti-violence community initiatives and policy.

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published this page in News and Politics 2021-07-13 04:07:39 -0700