Brian Hamacher

WTVJ 70th Anniversary: Looking Back at the McDuffie Riots

WTVJ is celebrating its 70th anniversary in 2019 with a look back at the station's rich history as well as some of the biggest stories and biggest personalities we've covered.

Rage, riots and racial tension overwhelmed the streets of Liberty City and Overtown in 1980 in what's remembered as the McDuffie riots. The unrest was sparked by the trial against four white Miami-Dade police officers who were charged in the beating death of black insurance agent Arthur McDuffie.

The officers were acquitted on May 17, 1980 and that verdict fueled the fire that erupted in Liberty City and Overtown. For several days, riots wreaked havoc in the once-thriving community, as properties and many businesses were destroyed. Eighteen people were killed and 400 others were injured.

McDuffie was badly beaten after he was involved in a police chase in December 1979. He was in a coma for several days until he subsequently died. Following the riots, Liberty City suffered greatly as businesses remained closed or left the area.

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