“And The Press Would Go Along With It “–John V. Lindsay Defined Away New York`s 1967 Riots


I referred to New York`s riots in the Whoopi  Goldberg post below. You will read that John V. Lindsay`s policy of surrendering to minority agitation saved New York from riots–his NYT Obituary says “And while other cities burned, New York had only minimal looting and violence.”

This reminds me of the saying attributed to Daniel Boone that “I was never lost in the woods in my whole life, though once I was confused for three days. ”

New York was “confused” for at least three days-some people think it`s still a little confused.

“Was Lindsay`s riot control strategy a success? Lindsay`s later  assessment that New YOrk problems did no resemble the devastation and death found in Detroit or Newark was correct. The administration handled the situation with sensitivity, coordinating the police response and soothing community feelings. There was never any need to call the National Guard.

Still, on three separate occasions during the summer of1967, certain areas of the city were in anarchy. The police did not protect store owners` property. The police and firemen were targets not only of verbal taunts but also of bricks, bottles, and fire bombs. But Lindsay refused to call such disturbances riots. Ted Mastroianni noted, “We had some major problems. We always called them disturbances. Molotov cocktails were always designated unidentified objects and the press would go along with it. “

Coincidentally, in late July, just as the East Harlem riot s were heating up, Lindsay was named vice chairman of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (called the Kerner Commission, for its head, Illinois Governor Otto Kerner). According to [Lindsay aide Barry] Gottehrer, Lindsay took pains to emphasize to him that as one of the most liberal members of the panel. if his ideas were going to carry any weight there had to be no riots in the city`s streets. So Lindsay defined away any riots.”[The Ungovernable City,By Vincent Cannato, p. 139]