With 40-Year Prism, Newark Surveys Deadly Riot

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Four decades later, many people here still cannot agree on what to call the five nights of gunfire, looting and flames that disemboweled the geographic midsection of this city, leaving 23 people dead, injuring 700, scorching acres of property and causing deep psychic wounds that have yet to fully heal.

To the frightened white residents who later abandoned Newark by the tens of thousands, it was a riot; for the black activists who gained a toehold in City Hall in the years that followed, it was a rebellion. Those seeking neutrality have come to embrace the word disturbance.

“There is not one truth, and your view depends on your race, your age and where you lived,” said Linda Caldwell Epps, president of the New Jersey Historical Society.

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