I’ve had the opportunity to read information about the 1967 uprising in Plainfield that is not available on the Internet. I am convinced that the police actually incited the violence by forcing a meeting to end, frustrating those who wanted to see change in Plainfield.
Regarding the killing of Officer Gleason: unfortunately, police reports of what happened to Gleason are just that. Police reports. And they are contradictory and far from the truth. There were no police who witnessed what happened.
A witness described the circumstances that led to the killing of Police Officer Gleason:
“And I see Bobby, I laugh ’cause it’s funny now, backin’ down the street, look like a Zulu warrior head band on his head, and I see this big, white police. They in the middle of the street. Bobby’s walking backwards like this—I can’t understand what they saying, but see how you’re sitting? They comin’ straight at us. I’m lookin’ at him. I said, ‘You know Reb, what the fuck is he doing?’ ‘What the hell you askin’ me, Chic? Let’s wait and see.’ All right?
“Here come the police and here come Bobby. There about this much distance in between both of them. Bobby’s callin’ his mama, callin’ the police mama and all kinds of names and the police is callin’ him—you ever seen a white person and the black people callin’ each other names, askin’ for—it was funny to me …
“But this time, Bobby had backed up on the curb. Louie’s leanin’ up on the fence. He’s lookin’ at it. All of a sudden, all hell broke loose! He did like this and pulled out his gun, ̵b;sBlack, that’s no shit.’s He just, he just fired it. He hit Bobby five times. Scared me. I never in my life see anybody get shot. Now I’m really scared….
“Somebody across the street threw something, and hit his helmet, right? He had on one of them helmets? Hit his helmet. He panics and turns around. Now you got to remember, there’s black people all up and down, everybody sees this, you see what I’m sayin’? It’s not just me and you—this street is covered with people. He panics a little bit, he starts backin’ up and he starts backin’ up, backin’ up, backin’ up.
“Then he turns and he goes ahead—and he started to run. The crowd is on him, includin’ me! Chasin’ him, chasin’ him, he was runnin’. He do this—I don’t know where that bugger went—turns back, and he shoots, right? He’s in the middle Plainfield section by the playground. He’s en route. He gotta go all the way to First Street to get to his home ground. He’s runnin’, boy, excuse me ma’am—this white boy was in it—and he had some deer on his ass. See what I’m sayin’? He was flyin’! But he had some deers, and they was—swosh—he got to Second street, the other side of the tracks, where this brother comin’ down, and I don’t know how this brother knew what happened, he hid behind the bridge like this. Soon as Gleason ran under the bridge he said ‘Whoo!’—up in the air Gleason sit—and when he came down in the gutter, they were waitin’ on him. And he went up in the air and made that flip over, and he hit the gutter and looked up. The wave was on him and they beat him to death!”
If not for three men, Cathcart, Ylvisaker and Hughes, there would have been a bloodbath. Ylvisaker said, “I am taking over in the name of the governor and you are relieved of this responsibility right now.” The Plainfield police were so angry that they were not permitted to flex their muscles and re-establish their form of “law and order” that they all quit their jobs. Of course, this was simply bravado. They returned to their jobs.
Oct 9 2013 - 4:56pm