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
Puerto Rican protesters
Chicago Police
Deaths: 1

The Division Street riots were episodes of rioting and civil unrest, which started during the first downtown Puerto Rican Parade in Chicago, Illinois on June 12, continuing through June 14, 1966 in the United States.

History and cause[edit]

On June 12, 1966, the first Puerto Rican Parade was held in downtown Chicago. Puerto Ricans had been migrating to Chicago for decades and comprised the second largest Spanish-speaking community in the city in the early 1960s.

That day the crowd on Division Street broke into a riot after the Chicago police shot a young Puerto Rican man. This was one of many urban disturbances across the nation in the 1960s, provoked by a long history of discrimination against minorities and slow progress after passage of civil rights legislation. There was rioting until June 19, 1966.


Although the riots were sparked by the shooting, underlying causes were community resentment of its poverty and discrimination, 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. They discussed the 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, the Puerto Rican community proposed specific policy recommendations which they and the city implemented.

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). Developing from the riots, these organizations' members were younger and 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.