Five Riots in Tampa

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The Five Riots in Tampa or the Tampa Riots refers to the five riots that occurred in the city of Tampa, Florida. The riots individually occurred in 1967, 1977, 1987,1989, and 1992. The riots are often nicknamed racial riots in Tampa due to the involvements in "racial deaths towards blacks during the riots" or which "incited the riots".

Tampa Riots of 1967[edit]

On June 11, 1967, 19-year old Martin Chambers was suspected of robbing a camera store in Tampa. Chambers ran from local police near Nebraska and Harrison Streets and was shot in the back and died not long after. Several days of riots ignited around Central Avenue following the incident.

State Attorney Paul Antinori ruled that the shooting was justifiable. In 1990, an investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement also found the shooting justifiable. The case was re-opened in 2007 under the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act.

Led Zeppelin concert 1977[edit]

On June 3, 1977 a Led Zeppelin concert at Tampa Stadium was strongly interrupted after 3 songs due to a large thunderstorm in the area. A riot broke out between police and several thousand of the estimated 70,000 fans at the concert. There were dozens of injuries and a number of arrests taken during or following the riot. The make up concert scheduled for the next day was canceled by city officials due to the riot.

Tampa Riots of 1987[edit]

On February 20, 1987, a group of 200 to 400 began rioting after starting a fire in a dumpster at the intersection of 22nd Street and Lake Avenue in the College Hill community in East Tampa.

The incident started the night after the death of mentally-handicapped black citizen, Melvin Eugene Hair. He died after police used a carotid neck-hold on him. Less than 24 hours later, the attorney's office released a report clearing police of racism in the December 1986 arrest of baseball star Dwight Gooden. The incidents sparked three nights of ferocious rioting.

Tampa Riots of 1989[edit]

Drug dealer Edgar Allen Price was arrested on February 1, 1989. Price scuffled with the Tampa police, and soon after died. Word of his death spread in the College Hill community, leading to several nights of violence including the burning down of a local supermarket. The lack of fire stations in the area helped exacerbate the damage. Black residents believed he was beaten to death by police, but an investigation revealed that he died from asphyxiation after having his hands and legs cuffed and placed face down in the back of a police cruiser.

Tampa Fire Stations 4 and 10 were both within 20 blocks and at most, a five minute response time to the supermarket that was burned at 22nd St. and E. Lake Ave. As I recall from covering the event for a local newspaper, firefighters were unable to effectively fight the fire due to the hostile crowd.

Tampa Riots of 1992[edit]

Parallel rioting occurred in a large variety of cities around the US in conjunction with the LA riots over the Rodney King findings; Tampa had rioting centered around 22nd street between E Lake and E Frierson Avenues, including burning of at least one vehicle and both direct and indirect attacks on passing traffic in this area including news anchor Sheryl Brown.[1] Although there was no local news coverage of the events at the time, the events were covered on various European television news programs.[citation needed]


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