On this Day, Dec. 17,1979 – Death of Black Insurance Exec by 4 White Police Sparks Miami Riots
1979 – Arthur McDuffie, a black insurance executive, was fatally beaten after a police chase in Miami.
The Miami race riots (also known as the Arthur McDuffie Riots) of May 1980 were the first major race riots after the end of the civil rights movement. The Miami Black community, long abused and neglected by civic leaders who, among other things, placed I-95 straight through the cultural center of their neighborhoods, was getting angrier by the day. Recently arrived Latin and Haitian immigrants were taking jobs and social benefits that had traditionally belonged to Blacks. Cuban refugees wielding money and power were beginning to take control of the city, and as such were awarding minority contracts and jobs to Cubans instead of African-Americans. This, combined with the continuous poverty and degradation of their neighborhoods, had Miami’s Black community ready to snap.
And so it was in this volatile environment that former Marine Arthur McDuffie rode his Kawasaki motorcycle at over 100 mph on the morning of December 17, 1979. Several Miami police spotted McDuffie and attempted to pull him over. Because he had a suspended license and had already received one ticket for it, the Black insurance salesman fled. After a few minutes of leading the police on a high-speed chase, McDuffie finally pulled over, throwing his hands in the air and saying “I give up.”
The police, possibly stressed from the ever-increasing crime in the area or maybe just hell-bent on making someone pay, did not accept McDuffie’s surrender. According to witnesses (most of them police) he was surrounded by a dozen Miami police officers and beaten. And beaten and beaten some more. Some held him down while others struck him with batons and flashlights. His skull was cracked clean in half and after 8 minutes of severe violence he was taken to a nearby hospital where he slipped into a coma and died 4 days later. The claimed that McDuffie had sustained his injuries as he fell off his bike. The Dade County Coroner saw things a little differently.
According to the coroner, there was no way the multiple blunt-force wounds McDuffie received would have been possible from a mere bike accident. The police department began an investigation of the officers involved and found a very different story than the one mentioned in the officers’ reports. After the internal inquiry was over, it became apparent that what happened to McDuffie was no accident.
The four white officers were later acquitted, leading to the race riots in May.
1777 – France recognized American independence.
1791 – A traffic regulation in New York City established the first street to go “One Way.”
1830 – South American patriot Simon Bolivar died in Colombia.
1903 – The first successful gasoline-powered airplane flight took place near Kitty Hawk, NC. Orville and Wilbur Wright made the flight.
1925 – Col. William “Billy” Mitchell was convicted of insubordination at his court-martial.
1939 – The German pocket battleship Graf Spee was scuttled by its crew, bringing the World War II Battle of the Rio de la Plata off Uruguay to an end.
1944 – The U.S. Army announced the end of its policy of excluding Japanese-Americans from the West Coast which ensured that Japanese-Americans were released from detention camps.
1953 – The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decided to approve RCA’s color television specifications.
1957 – The United States successfully test-fired the Atlas intercontinental ballistic missile.
1959 – The film “On the Beach” premiered in New York City and in 17 other cities. It was the first motion picture to debut simultaneously in major cities around the world.
1969 – The U.S. Air Force closed its Project “Blue Book” by concluding that there was no evidence of extraterrestrial spaceships behind thousands of UFO sightings.
1969 – Television history was made when Tiny Tim and Miss Vicki Budinger were married on “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson.
1973 – Thirty-one people were killed at Rome airport when Arab guerillas hijacked a German airliner.
1975 – Lynette Fromme was sentenced to life in prison for her attempt on the life of President Gerald Ford.
1976 – WTCG-TV, Atlanta, GA, changed its call letters to WTBS, and was uplinked via satellite. The station became the first commercial TV station to cover the entire U.S.
1978 – OPEC decided to raise oil prices by 14.5% by the end of 1979.
1986 – Wayne Newton won a $19.2 million suit against NBC News. NBC had aired reports claiming a link between Newton and mob figures. The reports were proven to be false.
1986 – Davina Thompson became the world’s first recipient of a heart, lungs, and liver transplant.
1992 – President George H.W. Bush, Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari signed the North American Free Trade Agreement.
1992 – Israel deported over 400 Palestinians to Lebanese territory in an unprecedented mass expulsion of suspected militants.
1996 – The Red Cross pulled all but a few of its western staff out of Chechnya after six foreign aid workers were killed by masked gunmen.
1997 – President Bill Clinton signed the No Electronic Theft Act. The act removed protection from individuals who claimed that they took no direct financial gains from stealing copyrighted works and downloading them from the Internet.
2000 – Terrell Owens (San Francisco 49ers) caught an NFL-record 20 passes for 283 yards and a touchdown against the Chicago Bears. The previous record was held by Tom Fears (Los Angeles Rams) with 18 catches on December 3, 1950, against the Green Bay Packers. Owens also broke Jerry Rice’s franchise record of 16 receptions set in 1994 against the Los Angeles Rams.a
2002 – President George W. Bush ordered the Pentagon to have ready for use within two years a system for protecting American territory, troops and allies from ballistic missile attacks.
2002 – McDonald’s Corp. warned that they would report its first quarterly loss in its 47-year history.
2004 – President George W. Bush signed into law the largest overhaul of U.S. intelligence gathering in 50 years. The bill aimed to tighten borders and aviation security. It also created a federal counterterrorism center and a new intelligence director.
Source: Miamibeach411.com, On-This-Day.com