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City of Newark v. County of Essex

October 25, 1976

CITY OF NEWARK, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION OF THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
COUNTY OF ESSEX, ESSEX COUNTY BOARD OF CHOSEN FREEHOLDERS, MACLYN S. GOLDMAN, TREASURER OF THE COUNTY OF ESSEX, DEFENDANTS



Feinberg, J.c.c.

Feinberg

[144 NJSuper Page 570] This suit was instituted by the City of Newark against the County of Essex, Essex County Board

of Chosen Freeholders, and Maclyn Goldman, Treasurer of the County of Essex (hereinafter county) and was tried before the judge sitting without a jury. The city relies upon N.J.S.A. 2A:48-4 in this action for reimbursement for certain expenses incurred allegedly as the result of a riot or riots, said to have commenced in the city on September 1, 1974.

At trial it was shown that the disturbances which underlie this law suit began on September 1, 1974. On that date a festival was held in Branch Brook Park, located in Newark, Essex County. The festival was attended by large numbers of Americans of Puerto Rican and Hispanic origin. During the course of the festivities some participants were observed to be gambling, consuming alcohol and selling food, each of which constituted a violation of Essex County Park regulations. Although the Essex County Park police did not attempt to arrest anyone for these violations, altercations arose in connection with the drinking and gambling. As a result, the park police became more closely involved in the situation.

Shortly thereafter an incident took place between a mounted Essex County Park policeman and persons among the crowd of participants. Some of these people became violent, throwing objects at the park police; park policemen became trapped in the crowd and had to be rescued. An official vehicle which stalled in the park was set on fire and destroyed. At this time the Essex County Park police withdrew from the park and Newark police moved in.

Whether the Newark police moved in without request from the Park police, and under their own authority, to preserve order is not clear. But that issue is not necessary to the disposition of this case.

When the Newark police moved in, force was met with force, and the situation became uncontrollable. There were approximately one thousand persons in the park during the disturbances. The mayor as well as the police and fire officials

were summoned to Branch Brook Park. In the hope of diffusing the situation, the mayor offered to meet with a contingent from the crowd at City Hall, where grievances related to the situation in the park would be discussed.

The crowd then marched to City Hall, accompanied by the mayor and an escort of Newark police. The crowd reassembled outside City Hall on Broad Street. Persons purporting to represent the crowd then met the mayor, who agreed to meet with another committee the next day. The crowd then dispersed.

By this time the mayor had directed his police and fire officials to take all steps necessary to protect lives and property in the city. As a result of this order, police and firemen were placed on overtime shifts, and all leaves and holidays were cancelled.

The next day, the morning of September 2, 1974, a crowd reappeared outside City Hall. While the mayor met with representatives, others from among the crowd delivered speeches which inflamed the crowd. As the day wore on the situation deteriorated. The crowd occupied the outside of City Hall, some persons hanging from the building's canopies. City Hall became the target of bottles, stones and various missiles in general. When police attempted to disperse the crowd, which numbered approximately one thousand, it spilled into Broad Street, occupying that thoroughfare. Businesses were threatened by the uncontrollable crowd.

Fire bombings were reported among the incidents in other parts of the city. Evidence presented indicated that these problems continued for a week. There were 184 fires, including 82 incendiaries reported during the period of September 1 through 8, 1974. A comparison with figures from the previous year revealed a dramatic increase for this time frame. The pattern ...


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