Exhibition Examines Evolution of Newark’s First Civilian Complaint Review Board

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Rutgers University-Newark Graduate School presents: “From Rebellion to Review Board: Fighting for Police Accountability in Newark,” an intricate look at the long history of civilian protest for police accountability, Dec. 15, 2016 through Feb. 3, 2017

The American Studies Program at Rutgers University-Newark, in collaboration with the Newark Public Library, is proud to present “From Rebellion to Review Board: Fighting for Police Accountability in Newark,” a semester-long experiment and exhibition in public history.

In 2016, Newark’s city council created its first civilian complaint review board with oversight over the police. This act was the culmination of more than 50 years of work by community members and organizations in the city who repeatedly demanded a review board in the face of police misconduct.

“From Rebellion to Review Board” tells the story of African-American, Puerto Rican, and LGBTQ activists’ struggles against police misconduct and political disenfranchisement to claim power in Newark. Why did it take so long? How did differences within and between these communities help and hurt these efforts? What can we learn from this history to make a more just and equitable Newark today?

The exhibition comes at an especially dynamic point in United States’ history with the increase of social justice movements such as #BlackLivesMatter. Through the examination of the history of a local movement, the exhibition hopes to draw further insight for the viewer of the longstanding battles over space and freedoms that have been transpiring in Newark for more than 50 years.

“From Rebellion to Review Board” is the culmination of 11 American studies, liberal arts, and history graduate and undergraduate students who have spent months analyzing and interpreting primary sources including the Newark Public Library, the Star Ledger, and oral history interviews from the New Jersey Hispanic Research & Information Center. Under the guidance of Assistant Professor of Professional Practice and Associate Director of Public and Digital Humanities Initiatives at Rutgers University-Newark Mary Rizzo, the students worked together to construct an exhibit that provides the 50+ year context of the recently adopted Citizen Complaint Review Board.

A companion exhibition, “Acción Latina: Protesta y Transformación Socio-cultural en Nueva Jersey,” examines the forgotten Latino riots that took place in four New Jersey towns in the 1960s and 1970s. This exhibition will be in Spanish.

The school and sponsors encourage the participation and attendance at the opening reception on Dec. 15, 2016, from 6 to 8 p.m. to examine the exhibits, meet the graduate and undergraduate students who created them, and learn more about this important history. The exhibition will be held at Centennial Hall in the Newark Public Library at 5 Washington St., Newark, NJ 07101-0630.

This exhibition was made possible thanks to funding from the Cultural Programming Fund of Rutgers University-Newark.

For more information, contact Mary Rizzo at