Looting and Liberal Racism
ON July 13, 1977, at 9:30 in the evening, New York City went suddenly and totally dark. The electric power had failed throughout the entire city. Within minutes several neighborhoods in the boroughs of Manhattan, the Bronx, and Brooklyn were aswarm with gangs of young men and little boys, lead pipes and gasoline in hand, on a rampage of looting and arson. Later, no doubt when the mayhem had become widespread and irresistible, a certain number of women and girls joined in. Small stores, restaurants, and supermarkets were broken into, their stocks cleaned out and fixtures smashed. In one neighborhood, the Bushwick section of Brooklyn, the fire department was literally unable to keep pace with the nightlong, and then daylong, setting of new fires.
It took twenty-four hours to achieve the full restoration of electricity. Meanwhile, havoc continued. In some areas the combination of daylight and continuous police surveillance brought a kind of spent, dazed quiet. In others-East Harlem, for instance, and the now infamous Bushwick-the pillage continued through much of the following day, interrupted only by the repeated appearance of the police, who arrived to carry off another and yet another wagonload of looters, and by occasional interviews granted to the press.
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