• Gator Quad


Updated: Oct 22, 2020

This story shows how major trends from fifty years ago continue to shape our lives.

From the late 1960s onward, police departments in the US became more militarized and likely to have and rely upon SWAT teams and weapons such as tear gas. Philadelphia’s police were notorious for brutality, especially toward Black residents. In June 2020 police forces still had broad discretion over using force to restore “order.”

Caution: Video has graphic scenes of violence. Viewer discretion advised.

Philadelphia Police Violated Their Own Guidelines, Here's How | Visual Investigations

The New York Times (25 June 2020)

The protestors were trapped in a sunken stretch of freeway, the Vine Street Expressway. That this type of terrain trap even exists – a sharp break in the urban landscape -- is itself a legacy of rampant highway construction in the 1950s and 1960s to facilitate suburbanization and national defense. Many policymakers preferred to dig a trench for roads instead of building ugly elevated freeways. These decisions sparked their own protests at the time, as residents sought to defend their neighborhoods from bulldozers.

Both police militarization and freeway building were influenced primarily by the federal government’s spending decisions. Cities could get equipment and training for police, as well as miles of freeways, by contributing a relatively small share of local funds. Uncle Sam picked up the rest of the tab.

Philadelphia residents have not given up - they were back on the freeway again yesterday.

~~ Dr. Alyssa Ribeiro (Assistant Professor, History Department, Allegheny College)

Studying history reveals lesser known facts, like the story above shows. Please click on the button on the left and donate online to support education and fight ignorance. Thank you.


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