The Omaha Race Riot occurred in Omaha, Nebraska, on 28-September 29, 1919. Nebraska ( is a state located on the Great Plains of the Midwestern United States and Events 48 BC - Pompey the Great is assassinated on orders of King Ptolemy of Egypt after landing in Egypt. Events 522 BC - Darius I of Persia kills the Magian usurper Gaumâta securing his hold as king of the Persian Empire. Year 1919 ( MCMXIX) was a Common year starting on Wednesday (link will display the full calendar of the Gregorian calendar (or a Common The race riot resulted in the brutal lynching death of a black man, the death of two white men, the attempted hanging of the mayor of Omaha and a public rampage that included the burning of the Douglas County Courthouse in downtown Omaha. Race Riot is a 1929 animated Short subject, featuring Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Lynching is an Extrajudicial punishment meted out by a mob Lynching an enumerated Felony in some states in the United States, is defined by some Hanging is the lethal suspension of a person by a ligature The Oxford English Dictionary states that hanging in this sense is "specifically to put to death It was one of a series of more than 20 riotous and violent race-related incidents that occurred in the United States during 1919. Red Summer, coined by author James Weldon Johnson, is used to describe the bloody race riots that occurred during the Summer and Autumn of 1919 The United States of America —commonly referred to as the
Three weeks before the riot federal investigators reported that, "a clash was imminent owing to ill-feeling between white and black workers in the stockyards. The Union Stockyards of Omaha Nebraska were founded in 1883 in South Omaha by the Union Stockyards Company. "
The violence was triggered by the alleged rape at gunpoint of a 19-year-old woman, Agnes Loebeck, on September 25, 1919. Rape, also referred to as Sexual assault, is an Assault by a person involving Sexual intercourse with or Sexual penetration of another person The following day the police arrested 40-year-old Will Brown, a black man who lived with a white woman. Loebeck identified Brown as her rapist, although later reports by the Omaha Police Department and the United States Army stated that it was not a positive identification. The Omaha Police Department, commonly known as the OPD is the principal law enforcement agency of the city of Omaha, Nebraska. The United States Army is a military organization whose primary mission is to "provide necessary forces and capabilities. There was an unsuccessful attempt to lynch Brown on the day of his arrest.
The Omaha Bee publicized the incident as one of a series of alleged attacks on white women by black men. The Omaha Bee was a pioneer Newspaper in Omaha Nebraska founded on May 8, 1871, by Edward Rosewater, a Bohemian Jewish immigrant  The Bee was controlled by a political machine opposed to the then current political administration of Omaha and was running a series of articles on alleged incidents of "black criminality" to embarrass the new administration. A political machine is an unofficial system of a political organization based on Patronage, the Spoils system, "behind-the-scenes" control and longstanding
At about 2:00 p. m. on Sunday, September 28, 1919, a large group of white youths gathered near the Bancroft School and began a march to the Douglas County Courthouse, where Brown was being held. Events 48 BC - Pompey the Great is assassinated on orders of King Ptolemy of Egypt after landing in Egypt. Year 1919 ( MCMXIX) was a Common year starting on Wednesday (link will display the full calendar of the Gregorian calendar (or a Common The march was intercepted by John T. Dunn, chief of the Omaha Detective Bureau, and his subordinates. Dunn attempted to peacefully disperse the crowd, but they ignored his warning and marched on. Thirty police officers were guarding the court house when the marchers arrived. They appeared to be led by an unidentified youth in possession of a long rope which hung from the saddle of his horse. By 4:00 p. m. , the crowd had grown much larger. Members of the crowd bantered with the officers until the police were convinced that the crowd posed no serious threat. A report to that effect was made to the central police station, and the captain in charge sent fifty reserve officers home for the day.
By 5:00 p. m. , a mob of about 4,000 whites had crowded into the street on the south side of the Douglas County Courthouse. They began to assault the police officers, pushing one through a pane of glass in a door and attacking two others who had wielded clubs at the mob. At 5:15 p. m. , officers deployed firehoses to dispel the crowd, but they responded with a shower of bricks and sticks. Nearly every window on the south side of the courthouse was broken. The crowd stormed the lower doors of the courthouse, and the Police inside discharged their weapons down an elevator shaft in an attempt to frighten them, but this further incited the mob. They again rushed the police who were standing guard outside the building, broke through their lines, and entered the courthouse through a broken basement door.
It was at this moment that Marshal Eberstein, chief of police, arrived. Chief of Police is the title typically given to the head of a Police department, particularly in North America. He asked leaders of the mob to give him a chance to talk to the crowd. He mounted to one of the window sills. Beside him was a recognized chief of the mob. At the request of its leader, the crowd stilled its clamor for a few minutes. Chief Eberstein tried to tell the mob that its mission would best be served by letting justice take its course. The crowd refused to listen. Its members howled so that the chief's voice did not carry more than a few feet. Eberstein ceased his attempt to talk and entered the besieged building.
By 6 p. m. , throngs swarmed about the court house on all sides. The crowd wrestled revolvers, badges and caps from policemen. rEVOLVEr is the fourth studio album by Swedish metal band The Haunted. They chased and beat every colored person who ventured into the vicinity. White men who attempted to rescue innocent blacks from unmerited punishment were subjected to physical abuse. The police had lost control of the crowd.
By 7 p. m. , most of the policemen had withdrawn to the interior of the court house. There, they joined forces with Michael Clark, sheriff of Douglas County, who had summoned his deputies to the building with the hope of preventing the capture of Brown. The policemen and sheriffs formed their line of last resistance on the fourth floor of the court house.
The police were not successful in their efforts. Before 8 p. m. , they discovered that the crowd would resort to any means to gain its end. Soon they saw tongues of flame leaping up at them. The crowd had set the magnificent courthouse building on fire. Its frenzied leaders had tapped a nearby gasoline filling station and saturated the lower floors with the flammable liquid. A filling station, fueling station, gas station, service station, petrol station, or gasbar, Retail Outlet
Shots were fired as the mob pillaged hardware stores in the business district and entered pawnshops, seeking firearms. A central business district ( CBD) is the commercial and often geographic heart of a city A pawnbroker is an individual or business entity that offers monetary loans in exchange for an item of value to the given pawn broker Police records show that more than 1,000 revolvers and shotguns were stolen that night. A shotgun (also known as a scattergun) is a Firearm that is usually designed to be fired from the shoulder which uses the energy of a fixed shell to fire a number The mob shot at any policeman who presented as a target with seven officers receiving gunshot wounds, although none of the wounds were serious.
Louis Young, 16 years old, was fatally shot in the stomach while leading a gang up to the fourth floor of the building. Witnesses say the boy was the most intrepid of the mob's leaders.
Pandemonium reigned outside the building. At Seventeenth and Douglas Streets, one block from the court house, James Hiykel, 34 years old, fell to the pavement with two bullets in his body and died. Hiykel had been a businessman in Omaha for ten years.
Bullets and rocks were continuously whizzing through the air. Spectators were shot. Participants inflicted minor wounds upon themselves. Women were thrown to the ground and trampled. Blacks were dragged from streetcars and beaten.
About 11 o'clock, when the frenzy was at its height, Mayor Edward Smith came out of the east door of the courthouse into Seventeenth Street. Edward Parsons Smith (1860-1930 was the mayor of Omaha, Nebraska from 1918 to 1921 He had been in the burning building for hours. As he emerged from the doorway, a shot rang out.
"He shot me. Mayor Smith shot me," a young man in the uniform of a United States soldier yelled. The crowd surged toward the mayor. He fought them. One man hit the mayor on the head with a baseball bat. A baseball bat is a smooth wooden or metal club used in the game of Baseball to hit the ball after the ball is thrown by the pitcher. Another slipped the noose of a rope around his neck. A noose is a loop at the end of a rope in which the Knot slides to make the loop collapsible The crowd started to drag him away.
"If you must hang somebody, then let it be me," the mayor said.
The mob dragged the mayor into Harney Street. A woman reached out and tore the noose from his neck. Men in the mob replaced it. Spectators wrestled the mayor from his captors and placed him in a police automobile. The throng overturned the car and grabbed him again. Once more, the rope encircled the mayor's neck. He was carried to Sixteenth and Harney Streets. There he was hanged from the metal arm of a traffic signal tower. The traffic light, also known as traffic signal, stop light, traffic lamp, stop-and-go lights, robot or semaphore,
Mayor Smith's body was suspended in the air when State Agent Ben Danbaum drove a high-powered automobile into the throng right to the base of the signal tower. In the car with Danbaum were City Detectives Al Anderson, Charles Van Deusen and Lloyd Toland. They grasped the mayor's body. Russell Norgard untied the noose. The detectives brought the mayor to Ford Hospital. The Ford Hospital, also called the Fifth Avenue Hotel, is located at 121 South 25th Street in Midtown Omaha Nebraska. There he lingered between life and death for several days, finally recovering. "They shall not get him. Mob rule will not prevail in Omaha," the mayor kept muttering during his delirium. Ochlocracy ( Greek: οχλοκρατία or okhlokratía; Latin: ochlocratia) is government by mob or a mass of people
Meanwhile the plight of the police in the court house had become desperate. The fire had licked its way to the third floor. The officers faced the prospect of roasting to death. Appeals for help to the crowd below brought only bullets and curses. The mob frustrated all attempts to raise ladders to the imprisoned police. "Bring Brown with you and you can come down," somebody in the crowd shouted.
On the second floor of the building, three policemen and a newspaper reporter were imprisoned in a safety vault, whose thick metal door the mob had shut. The four men hacked their way out through the court house wall. The mob shot at them as they squirmed out of the stifling vault.
The gases of formaldehyde added to the terrors of the men imprisoned within the flaming building. Formaldehyde is a Chemical compound with the formula H2CO It is the simplest Aldehyde —an organic compound containing a terminal Carbonyl Several jars of the powerful chemical had burst on the stairway. Its deadly fumes mounted to the upper floors. Two policemen were overcome. Their companions could do nothing to alleviate their sufferings.
Sheriff Clark led his prisoners (there were 121 of them) to the roof. Will Brown, for whom the mob was howling, became hysterical. Blacks, fellow prisoners of the hunted man, tried to throw him off the roof. Deputy Sheriffs Hoye and McDonald foiled the attempt.
Sheriff Clark ordered that female prisoners be taken from the building due to their distress. They ran down the burning staircases clad only in prison pajamas. Some of them fainted on the way. Members of the mob escorted them through the smoke and flames. Black women as well as white women were helped to safety.
The mob poured more gasoline into the building. They cut every line of hose that firemen laid from nearby hydrants. The flames were rapidly lapping their way upward. It seemed like certain cremation for the prisoners and their protectors.
Then three slips of paper were thrown from the fourth floor on the west side of the building. On one piece was scrawled: "The judge says he will give up Negro Brown. He is in dungeon. There are 100 white prisoners on the roof. Save them. "
Another note read: "Come to the fourth floor of the building and we will hand the negro over to you. "
The mob in the street shrieked its delight at the last message. Boys and young men placed firemen's ladders against the building. They mounted to the second story. One man had a heavy coil of new rope on his back. Another had a shotgun.
Two or three minutes after the unidentified athletes had climbed to the fourth floor, a mighty shout and a fusillade of shots were heard from the south side of the building.
Will Brown had been captured. A few minutes more and his lifeless body was hanging from a telephone post at Eighteenth and Harney Streets. Hundreds of revolvers and shotguns were fired at the corpse as it dangled in mid-air. Then, the rope was cut. Brown's body was tied to the rear end of an automobile. It was dragged through the streets to Seventeenth and Dodge Streets, four blocks away. The oil from red lanterns used as danger signals for street repairs was poured on the corpse. It was burned. Members of the mob hauled the charred remains through the business district for several hours.
Sheriff Clark said that Negro prisoners hurled Brown into the hands of the mob as its leaders approached the stairway leading to the county jail. Newspapers have quoted alleged leaders of the mob as saying that Brown was shoved at them through a blinding smoke by persons whom they could not see.
The orgy of lawlessness continued for several hours after Brown had been lynched. The police patrol was burned. The police emergency automobile was burned. Three times, the mob went to the city jail. The third time its leaders announced that they were going to burn it. Soldiers arrived before they could carry out their threat.
The riot lasted until 3 a. m. , in the morning of September 29. At that hour, federal troops, under command of Colonel John E. Colonel ( RP ˈkɜnəl GA ˈkɜrnəl is a Military rank of a Commissioned officer, with corresponding ranks existing in almost every country Morris of the Twentieth Infantry, arrived from Fort Omaha and Fort Crook. The Infantry is the oldest and most numerous of the Combat Arms in the Armed forces, and consists Fort Omaha, originally known as Sherman Barracks and then Omaha Barracks, is an Indian War -era United States Army supply installation Machine guns were placed in the heart of Omaha's business district and in the center of the "black belt. " Major General Leonard Wood, commander of the Central Department, came the next day to Omaha by order of Secretary of War Newton D. Baker. Major General or Major-General is a Military rank used in many countries Leonard Wood (9 October 1860 &ndash 7 August 1927 was a Physician who served as the Chief of Staff of the United States Army, Military Governor of Cuba The Secretary of War was a member of the United States President's Cabinet, beginning with George Washington 's administration Newton Diehl Baker Jr ( December 3, 1871 &ndash December 25, 1937) was an American Politician of the United States Peace, enforced by 1,600 soldiers, then brooded over the city.
Martial law was not formally proclaimed in Omaha, but it was enacted throughout the city. Martial law is the system of rules that takes effect when the military takes control of the normal administration of justice By the request of City Commissioner W. Commissioner is a designation that may be used for a variety of official positions especially referring to a high-ranked public (administrative or Police) official or an analogous G. Ure, who was acting mayor, control over the police department was vested in the military commander of the troops.
On October 1, 1919 Brown was laid to rest in Omaha's Potters Field. Events 331 BC - Alexander the Great defeats Darius III of Persia in the Battle of Gaugamela. Year 1919 ( MCMXIX) was a Common year starting on Wednesday (link will display the full calendar of the Gregorian calendar (or a Common The Potters Field Cemetery in Omaha Nebraska is located on a five acre plot of land at 5000 Young Street near the intersections of Young Street and Mormon Bridge Road The internment log listed only one word next to his name: "Lynched. "
The Omaha Riot was denounced throughout the country. The arrest and prosecution of mob leaders was widely demanded. Police and military authorities apprehended 100 of the participants on charges ranging from murder to arson and held them for trial. Murder is the unlawful killing of another human person with Malice aforethought, as defined in Common Law countries The Army presence in Omaha was the largest in response to any of the race riots with 70 officers and 1,222 enlisted men. An enlisted rank in the Military of the United States is any rank below a commissioned officer. By early October, the emergency had passed and the Army contingent declined to two regiments by the middle of the month. A regiment is a Military unit, composed of a variable number of Battalions – commanded by a Colonel.
General Wood initially blamed the disturbance on the Industrial Workers of the World, as part of the Red Scare then prevalent in the US. The Industrial Workers of the World ( IWW or the Wobblies) is an international union currently headquartered in Cincinnati Ohio, USA In American history, the First Red Scare took place in the period 1917–1920 and was marked by a widespread fear of Anarchism, as well as the effects of radical This interpretation was not supported by the evidence, however; Wood's actions in rebuilding the police force, investigating the riot and arresting the ring leaders showed a greater appreciation of the situation. Omaha police identified another 300 people wanted for questioning, including Loebeck's brother who had disappeared.
Reverend Charles E. Cobbey, the pastor of the First Christian Church, blamed the Omaha Bee for inflaming the situation. He was reported to have said, It is the belief of many that the entire responsibility for the outrage can be placed at the feet of a few men and one Omaha paper. The responsibility of the so-called yellow journalism of the Bee for stoking the conditions for the riot is a common factor in explanations of the event. Yellow journalism is Journalism that downplays legitimate news in favor of eye-catching headlines that sell more newspapers  The US Army was critical of the performance of the Omaha police on the night for failing to disperse the crowd although many people consider that the Army was slow to respond to the crisis on the night.
Many within Omaha saw the riot as the direct result of Omaha political and criminal boss Tom Dennison. Tom Dennison, aka Pickhandle, Old Grey Wolf, (? 1858 - February 1934 was the early-20th century Political boss of Omaha, Nebraska A turncoat from Dennison's machine said he had heard Boss Dennison boasting that some of the assailants were white Dennison operatives disguised in blackface. In Law, treason is the Crime that covers some of the more serious acts of disloyalty to one's sovereign or Nation. Blackface in the narrow sense is a style of theatrical Makeup that originated in the United This was corroborated by police reports that one white attacker was still wearing the make-up when apprehended. As in many other Dennison-related cases, no one was ever found guilty for their participation in the riot.  A later grand jury trial corroborated this claim, stating "Several reported assaults on white women had actually been perpetrated by whites in blackface. In the Common law, a grand jury is a type of Jury which determines whether there is enough evidence for a trial. " They went on to report that the riot was planned and begun by "the vice element of the city. " The riot "was not a casual affair; it was premeditated and planned by those secret and invisible forces that today are fighting you and the men who represent good government. "
The event was part of an ongoing racial tension in Omaha in the early twentieth century. See also Timeline of Racial Tension in Omaha Nebraska See also Civil Rights Movement in Omaha Nebraska Racial tension in Omaha Nebraska There were attacks on Greek immigrants in 1909. A Greek American (Ελληνοαμερικανοί Ellinoamerikani) is a citizen of the United States, who is of Greek heritage or origin The migration of many blacks into Nebraska pursuing economic opportunities sparked racial tension in the state. After the Omaha riot, the Ku Klux Klan became established there in 1921 and there was another racial riot in North Platte, Nebraska in 1929. Ku Klux Klan ( KKK) is the name of several past and present secret domestic terrorist organizations in the United States, generally in the southern states that are North Platte is a city in and the County seat of Lincoln County, Nebraska, United States. There were also violent strikes in the Omaha meat packing industry in 1917 and 1921 and concerns about immigrants from Eastern Europe. The meat packing industry is an Industry that handles the slaughtering, Processing and distribution of animals such as Cattle Immigration refers to the movement of people among countries While the movement of people has existed throughout human history at various levels modern immigration implies long-term Eastern Europe is a general term that refers to the Geopolitical region encompassing the easternmost part of the European continent.
Afterward, the city of Omaha, previously a cosmopolitan city similar to Chicago in its mixing of races and ethnicities, was segregated. The term multiculturalism generally refers to a state of racial, cultural and ethnic diversity within the Demographics of a specified Chicago (ʃɪˈkɑːgoʊ is the largest City by population in the state of Illinois and the American Midwest of the United States. Redlining and restrictive covenants became the norm, and African Americans could only own property in designated neighborhoods in North Omaha. Redlining is the practice of denying or increasing the cost of services such as Banking, Insurance, access to jobs access to health care or even Supermarkets A real covenant is a Legal obligation imposed in a Deed by the seller upon the buyer of Real estate to do or not to do something North Omaha is a community area in Omaha, Nebraska, USA. It is bordered by Cuming and Dodge Streets on the south Interstate 680 And although segregation has not been legally enforced for generations, to this day a majority of Omaha's black population can be found in these neighborhoods.
In 1998, the incident was dramatized by playwright Max Sparber and produced by the Blue Barn Theatre in the rotunda of the Douglas County Courthouse. The Blue Barn Theatre, located at 614 S 11th Street in Omaha Nebraska, is a nationally recognized Theater. The play, titled Minstrel Show; Or, The Lynching of William Brown, caused something of a minor controversy when it was condemned by State Senator Ernie Chambers, who disapproved of the play's use of fictional African-American blackface performers as the story's narrators and called for a black boycott of the play. Ernest (Ernie W Chambers (born July 10, 1937) is a former Nebraska State Senator who represented North Omaha 's 11th District in the The play performed to sold-out houses and would later enjoy productions throughout the country.
In 2007 the New Jersey Repertory Company presented Minstrel Show or the Lynching of William Brown in Long Branch, New Jersey. The New Jersey Repertory Company, is a Non-profit corporation in New Jersey, dedicated to bringing professional quality, yet affordable family theater to the community Long Branch is a City in Monmouth County, New Jersey, United States. The cast included Kelcey Watson from Omaha, and Spencer Scott Barros from New York City. Both actors had been in previous productions of the play and it was directed by Rob Urbinati.