Harlem Conditions

A young man, Lino Rivera, attempted to swipe a small pen knife from the Kress store on 125th Street in Harlem. Store personnel intercepted him, took the knife away, and threatened him with punishment.

A patrol officer who brought Lino Rivera Back into the store for questioning.

When the crowd persisted, the police officers told them to leave the store, that this was none of their business, which infuriated the shoppers. 

On the streets, they repeated that the young man had been killed. “With incredible swiftness, the feelings and attitudes of the outrage crowd of shoppers was communicated to those on 125th street and soon all of Harlem was repeating the rumor that a Negro boy had been murdered in the basement of Kress’s store.”

Street corner speakers tried to start a public meeting. The police ordered them to move from the corner. The speakers set up outside of the store. The police arrested the speakers. A store window was Shattered. 

Clusters of people gathered the police dispersed them; they gathered again in front of other buildings. windows were shattered and merchandise was looted.

This continued throughout the evening, into the early morning hours. In the midst of this, two young Black brothers returned home to Harlem after seeing a movie. Walking along 7th Avenue, they stopped at 128th Street. A crowd had gathered in front of a car accessories store while merchandise was being stolen. A police car arrived, and an officer emerged holding a gun. The crowd began running. The officer fired the gun and hit Lloyd Hobbs, a 16-year-old. Hobbs died at Harlem Hospital a few days later.


The officer claimed Hobbs was looting items. Every other witness told a different story. After extensive interviews, the commission concluded the shooting was unwarranted.


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