Monday, February 23, 2009

THE NEWARK ENFORCER: TONY IMPERIALE



Out of the smoke and fires of the Newark Riots emerged a man who was a Giant. He was a no nonsense advocate of "law and order." He ruled the North Ward and provided "protection" for his neighbors, as well as several other community services.

He was known to all as Tony. His full name was Anthony Imperiale. He is still a legend even though he is no longer with us. Tony died Dec. 28, 1999 at the age of 68.

In life he had caught the eye of many. To some he was a baseball bat wielding racist, while to others he was a god.

Gov. Richard Hughes called his supporter "brownshirts." This was in response to Imperiales' street patrols in the North Ward. To his detractors Tony stated: "When the Black Panther comes, the white hunter will be waiting."

His patrols lasted for two years, ending only when he won a seat on the City Council. He later won a State Assembly seat as an Independent candidate, and a Senate seat as a Republican.

He established his own private detective and security service, and organized the North Ward First Aid Squad. He never denied an individual service because of race. If he could help someone he did just that.

For years Tony was a fixture in Newark's Columbus Day parades He always did something to get the crowd laughing or cheering for him such as driving a TANK on Broad Street. In another parade he dressed up as a gladiator and stood on a float with a very real Lion.

The badge pictured above is from Tony's enforcement enterprise. There are not many of these around, and certainly knowing some of the history makes it a real treasure.

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