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Norman-Thomas-Riot Police Records

 Collection
Identifier: MG Nwk Thomas -(Main)
This is material that originated with the Newark Police Department surrounding the investigation of the riot in Military Park during Norman Thomas’s speech. The start of the collection is photographs from the day of the incident. The following folders contain elements of the investigation including statements, invoices, files, transcripts, and one court docket. Of note, two petitions were signed against the speech, and the police took statements from all signees (Box 1, Folder 9 and 11). Police also took statements from many Newark gangsters (Box 2, Folder 1-2). Biographical files (often with photos) on these gangsters are also in the collection (Box 1, Folder 12). The court docket relates to one case that was pursued against rioters. The last four folders in the collection are final reports, written by Deputy Chief Frank Brex, to the Police Chief, with accompanying documents, on particular aspects of the investigation.

Dates

  • 1938

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers wishing to publish, reproduce, or reprint materials from this collection must obtain permission.

Extent

.84 Linear Feet (2 Hollinger boxes)

Overview

Newark Police Department records from the investigation surrounding a riot in Military Park at a speech of Socialist Norman Thompson.

Biographical / Historical

On April 30, 1938 Norman Thomas tried to give a speech against Mayor Frank Hague of Jersey City (charging Hague denied constitutional rights to CIO organizers). He didn’t have a permit and was “deported” by police. On June 4, 1938, Thomas tried again to make the speech in Military Park in Newark. A riot broke out, as fifty men, chanted and pelted Mr. Thomas with eggs. Afterward, police conduct was widely criticized, as police were seen as lax, or helping the rioters. Members of the Socialist group who made complaints against the police included David Clendenin, Morris Milgram, Ashley Carrick, and Clara Handelman (Essex County Secretary of the Socialist Party). Several rioters were arrested and received jail terms, but police were never charged. The investigation was managed by Deputy Chief Frank E. Brex.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The estate of Frank X. Ebler, Sr., 1994

Processing Information

Material was removed from report covers with metal fasteners, into archival folders. The title on these covers was copied and placed in each folder. Material in folders was kept in order of donated arrangement (it is unclear whether original arrangement was by the Newark Police department or the donor) but folders were arranged chronologically. Folder with gangster files was undated, but was placed near other gangster material. Vocabulary used in the description, i.e. “gangster” and “riot” was taken from the terminology used in the police reports and news articles.
Author
Beth Zak-Cohen
Date
2016

Repository Details

Part of the Charles F. Cummings New Jersey Information Center, Newark Public Library Repository

Contact:
3rd Floor
Newark Public Library
5 Washington St.
Newark NJ 07102 United States
973-733-7775