Ben's Chili Bowl in DC was at the center of riots after MLK's assassination

People take pictures of the new mural at Ben's Chili Bowl, Friday, June 23, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Just hours after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, some 900 miles away in the nation’s capital, grieving turned into anger on the streets and then eight straight days of violent rioting followed.

Ben's Chili Bowl on U Street became the epicenter of it all.

Along with the raging fires, rioters smashed windows, looted and at least 10 people were killed.

But Ben's was the only restaurant allowed to stay open despite a curfew. Some used it as a safety zone and a refuge.

Co-founder Virginia Ali vividly remembers that day 50 years ago Wednesday.

It took decades for some predominantly black neighborhoods in the district to recover. Ben’s is planning a march Wednesday on the 50th anniversary of King’s assassination that begins at 5:30 p.m. at Howard University.

Businesses along U Street are being asked to place lighted electric candles in their windows during the day as a sign of remembrance.

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