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The Untold Story

The above photo, titled Benedict J. Fernandez and featured in the 60 from the 60′s exhibit at the George Eastman House, was taken by Garry Winogrand during the riots in Newark, New Jersey in 1967.  Prior to the riots, there was a rapid growth of tension in Newark’s African American community as a result of racially charged social unrest.  This powder keg was finally set alight shortly after the arrest of a black cabdriver by two white officers; occurring outside of a large public housing project.

According to a blog written by Brad Parks, “The policemen said Smith [the cabdriver] resisted arrest and had to be subdued.  Smith said the cops started beating him after he asked why they pulled him over.  Either way, Smith was badly injured and could not walk by the time [the policemen] dragged him into the 4th Police Precinct on 17th Avenue – in full view of several residents of the Hayes Homes public housing project across the street.  A rumor soon flew around Hayes Homes: The police beat a cabdriver to death.”  What ensued was 6 days of riots, violence, looting, and destruction of the surrounding area; as is listed on a Rutgers website dedicated to the riots, this left a total of 26 people dead, 725 people injured, and approximately 1,500 arrested.

In the book, Practices of Looking – An Introduction to Visual Culture by Marita Sturken and Lisa Cartwright, they take a look at how visual evidence plays a variety of roles in the scientific arena.  One of the areas that Sturken and Cartwright discuss in detail is the use of images as science and evidence; in particular, in the courtroom.  The interpretation and perception of images will vary depending upon their role in the argument presented by either the prosecution or the defense.  I feel like the photo above depicts another type of scientific evidence, the testimonial.  I feel that this man represents all those individuals who witnessed the events that occurred in Newark before the riots, during the riots, and after the riots.  Representing the untold stories of the residents of Newark, NJ.



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