Division Street Riots

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Division Street Riots
Date June 12 and June 14, 1966
Location Chicago, Illinois, United States
Parties to the civil conflict
Chicago Police
Deaths: 1

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

History and cause[edit]

During the first downtown Puerto Rican Parade in Chicago on June 12, 1966, the first Puerto Rican riot in the U.S. began on Division Street. The riot was a community response to the shooting of a young Puerto Rican man by the Chicago police. It was one of many urban disturbances across the nation in the 1960s. There was rioting until June 19, 1966.


Although the riots were sparked by the shooting, they drew attention to poverty, strained relations between Puerto Ricans and Chicago's police department and the continued displacement of Puerto Ricans from downtown and the lakefront areas of Chicago by city-sponsored urban renewal projects.

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 facing these communities, such as displacement and discrimination in housing, discriminatory practices by the police and fire departments, and poor educational opportunities.[citation needed] As a result of these meetings, specific policy recommendations were proposed and implemented in the Puerto Rican community.

The riots, directly and indirectly, inspired the creation of Puerto Rican community organizations, such as the Spanish Action Committee of Chicago (SACC), the Latin American Defense Organization (LADO), the Bickerdike Revedelopment Corporation, the ASPIRA Association and the Young Lords (in 1968); cultural centers such as the Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center and the Juan Antonio Corretjer Puerto Rican Cultural Center; and a school, the Escuela Superior Puertorriqueña (which is now named Dr. Pedro Albizú Campos Puerto Rican High School). These organizations emerged from the riots and were more militant than earlier organizations such as the Caballeros de San Juan, Damas de María and the Puerto Rican Congress. They worked to get community concerns such as education, housing, health, and employment addressed by the city and to assert a Puerto Rican presence in city politics.