Smoldering Liberty City: Remembering The McDuffie Riots

May 17, 2015

National guardsmen stand watch outside a looted store.
Credit State Archives of Florida

Thirty-five years ago, Miami's Liberty City was smoldering -- flames leapt from the shells of cars while people looted businesses.

Eighteen people died, and more than $100 million worth of property was destroyed.

The McDuffie Riots were more violent than what happened in Baltimore and Ferguson, but there are lots of similarities.

The destruction here came after a slew of confrontations between police and black Miamians. The tension reached its peak when police were acquitted in the death of Arthur McDuffie, a black insurance broker from a well respected family.

Press play to hear from three Miamians who witnessed the riots, and scroll below to see images from Liberty City's streets then.

 

A victim of riot violence is treated in Liberty City.
Credit State Archives of Florida
A checkpoint was set up around sections of Liberty City. Movement in and out of the area was severely restricted.
Credit State Archives of Florida
The front page of the Miami Herald on Sunday May 18, 1980, the second day of the riots.
Credit Miami Herald
A looted store in Liberty City.
Credit State Archives of Florida

Credit State Archives of Florida
Credit State Archives of Florida