The 1967 Plainfield, NJ Riots


The 1967 Plainfield, NJ Riots.

2 days after some Black folks began rioting in Newark in 1967, the riots in Plainfield NJ started.

Plainfield is 18 miles southwest of Newark, and 1/3 of Plainfield’s 48,000 people were Black.

Tensions remained high that summer through the night of Friday, July 14 when a fight broke out at a local diner, The White Star.


40 young black men left the diner and marched back to their housing project in the West End  of Plfd.

Expressing their anger along the way by smashing store windows and tossing stones at cop cruisers. The group dispersed When the Plainfield police showed up.

On Saturday night trouble started again.

Lifetime Plainfield residents said that “outside agitators” from elsewhere came to provoke violence and to “rile up” the community.


Some of them were white males & some were blacks. The hate they provoked was infectious.

Looting increased &  Molotov cocktails were hurled at fire trucks.

Cops from surrounding jurisdictions were called in and the rioters left as rain started early Sunday morning.

Several hundred on sunday  people convened at a local park to hear the local Dir of Human Relns discuss the situation in the city.

Park Police, who had jurisdiction over the park,  decided the meeting was unlawful and ordered the crowd to disperse.

The crowd broke up and reformed in  West  Plainfield where widespread rioting resumed.

the Pagan motorcycle gang entered the area and a confrontation between a  group of young black men and the white  Pagan  gang was erupting.

Police Officer John Gleason got between the two groups and the Pagans left.

The remaining crowd of Plainfielders refused to disperse and  Gleason became surrounded by the crowd which began to threaten him and close in on him.

Gleason feared for his life and fired a shot at a young man and wounded him.

When Gleason attempted to leave the area to get help, he was overtaken by a mob and was beaten with a steel grocery store cart, stomped and eventually brutally shot and killed with his own police pistol.

Middlesex arms theft 

meanwhile in Middlesex New jersey, a gun factory was raided and 46 automatic weapons were stolen.

The Plainfield Machine Company produced M1 carbines for the civilian market.

The stolen rifles found their way onto the streets of Plainfield.

The cops were anxious because of the large number of guns now on the streets and the Plainfield Fire Department Station was under constant gunfire for five hours.

Bullet marks in the brick walls are still there. Finally,

Nj Army  National Guardsmen, in armored personnel carriers relieved the station.

The Plainfield cops tried to have residents turn in the stolen rifles.

Black residents felt that having the guns in the community kept the police at bay and that they now had power over the police.

When none of the stolen guns were returned, the area was cordoned off and 300 heavily armed New Jersey State Police and National Guardsmen started a house-to-house search for the stolen weapons.

After an hr 1/2, with 66 homes searched, the operation was called off.


Plainfield New Jersey  declined from the stigma of the riots and many of the looted/ burned looted businesses remained vacant for over four decades.

After leaving, since the owners didn’t want to live there anymore but couldn’t sell, they sometimes let them go  derelict.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s