In the mid-20th century, Puerto Ricans began migrating to Chicago in the hopes of landing jobs in foundries and private homes. By the 1960s, the population of Puerto Ricans in the city was quite large, with many living in the neighborhoods of West Town and Humboldt Park. In 1966, the Humboldt Park area become the site of what is known today as the Division Street Riots.

Racial Tensions Erupt into Chaos

In June 1966, Puerto Ricans celebrated the first annual Puerto Rican Day Parade. Racial tension had already been high between police and community members, and culminated in a riot after the parade on June 12. Police officer Thomas Munyon shot 20-year-old Aracelis Cruz in the leg while chasing him down an alley. When people witnessed the incident, they tried to help the young man and were beaten by other officers arriving at the scene. This resulted in backlash by the community, including battles with police, destruction of white-owned businesses and general mayhem that lasted several days.