Division Street Riots

Division Street Riots

Division Street Riots

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The Division Street Riots were episodes of rioting and civil unrest in Chicago which occurred between June 12 and June 14, 1966.

History and cause

It was during the first downtown Puerto Rican Parade on June 12, 1966, that the first Puerto Rican riot in the U.S. began on Division Street, Chicago. The riot, one of many urban disturbances across the nation in the 1960s, was a response to the shooting of a young Puerto Rican man by Chicago Police. There was rioting until June 14, when community leaders rallied in the park to devise strategies to calm the crowds.

The underlying cause of the riots was the deteriorating economic conditions facing Puerto Ricans and African Americans, which embodied many aspects of the national urban crisis. Ethnic conflicts, especially those between young Puerto Ricans and Polish Americans, prevailed during the transition period.


The Division Street riot was a key moment in the history of Puerto Ricans in Chicago. It drew attention to the continued displacement of Puerto Ricans from downtown and the lakefront areas of Chicago by city-sponsored urban renewal projects. The additional issues of poverty and strained relations between Puerto Ricans and Chicago's police department also played a major role and was considered the spark to the violence.

A month after the riot, the Chicago Commission on Human Relations held open hearings which provided a forum for Puerto Rican and other Spanish-speaking residents of Chicago to discuss problems...
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