Building On Rock, Not Sand: Riots in Liberty City, Florida

"Crime is a subtle form of revolution. Every robbery is somebody's personal riot"

On May 17, 1980, all hell broke loose in Liberty City, Fla. A Tampa jury acquitted four white policemen in the beating death of a black insurance agent, and the heart of Miami's black community burst into violence. Three days later, 18 people were dead, 1,100 arrested, and some $100 million in property destroyed.

The riots left Liberty City among the least redeemable pieces of real estate in the nation. No private investor in his right mind would risk opening a business on Seventh Avenue, where a looted Pantry Pride grocery hulked on the corner, a symbol of the destruction. Unless...

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