Published on NJ.com
The nation recently watched as yet another community's residents, moved by long-simmering frustration and anger, took to the streets to protest the killing of Freddie Gray by members of law enforcement. The protests in Baltimore—like those before it in Ferguson, Mo., which were triggered both by violent encounters with law enforcement and the enduring effects of poverty, racism, and disinvestment—call to mind Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s powerful admonition: "A riot is the language of the unheard."
In 1967, an eerily similar rebellion in Newark claimed the lives of 26 people and left some 200 more seriously injured. Nearly 50 years later, people in Baltimore, Ferguson, Newark and numerous other cities throughout the country are still suffering under the weight of the conditions that precipitated these protests. As New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu explained, we ignore them at our own peril.