Opinion in the Star Ledger

Over the past year and a half, we watched as residents of several communities across this nation — moved by long-simmering frustration and anger — took to the streets to protest the killings of unarmed black people by members of law enforcement.

The protests in places such as Baltimore; Ferguson, Mo.; Staten Island, N.Y.; Waller County, Texas; and Chicago were triggered by violent encounters with law enforcement and the enduring effects of poverty, racism and disinvestment in those communities, calling to mind the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s powerful admonition: “A riot is the language of the unheard.”

In 1967, a similar rebellion here in my city, Newark, was sparked by police abuse and decades of crushing poverty and a lack of opportunity. Ultimately, the Newark rebellion claimed the lives of 26 people and left hundreds more seriously injured.