McDuffie Riots, 1980

Only a sign at 62nd and Northwest 17th Avenue that proclaims ”Arthur Lee McDuffie Avenue” offers an outward clue to the ferocity that erupted in May 1980, sweeping through the city’s black communities with a rage that would cripple Miami for years, even decades. Four white police officers were acquitted by an all-white jury in the death of McDuffie, a black Miami insurance agent. McDuffie, a Marine, had been fatally beaten while handcuffed after a police chase by a group of white police officers, who then tried to cover it up as an accident. The verdict, coming as the black community’s relationship with law enforcement reached an all-time low, sent people pouring into the streets. A three-day rampage of fury and grief followed, escalating with frightening speed in Liberty City, the Black Grove, Overtown, and Brownsville, killing 18 people, costing 3,000 jobs and causing $100 million in damage.

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