April 9, 2012
Negro Belt Turned into No Man’s Land as Whites and Blacks Wage Battle
Martial Law Is Declared—Troops Patrol Streets of the City
Oklahoma City, June 1.—Seventy-five whites and Negroes have been killed in the race riot at Tulsa, according to a telephone message to Governor Robertson here today from the chief of police at Tulsa.
Martial law in Tulsa was ordered by Governor Robertson at 11:15 a.m. today and Adjutant [General] Barrett was placed in command of the city.
Tulsa, Okla., June 1—Nearly ten square blocks of the south side of the Negro section of Tulsa where an armed conflict has been in progress between white men and Negroes since early last night resulting in the reported death of six white men and 50 Negroes, and a rapidly increasing list of wounded, were in flames today. The [fire] was reported spreading.
Machine Guns in Streets
Detachments of Guardsmen were scattered throughout the city prepared to meet all emergencies with machine guns ready for action. Guards surrounded the armory while others assisted in rounding up the Negroes and segregating them in the jail, Convention Hall, the baseball park, and other places which had been turned into prison camps.
State Troops Arrive
State troops under command of Adjutant General C. F. Barrett arrived at 9 a.m. to take charge of the situation, augmenting local units of Guardsmen who were called out last night. At this time there were reports of sporadic shooting and the situation seemed to be easing.
The trouble is reported to have started as the result of the arrest of Dick Rowland, a Negro, alleged to have assaulted an orphaned white girl. The Negro was reported to have been spirited out of the city this morning.
Fire Sweeps Negro Quarter
First attempts to fire the Negro quarter occurred at 1:30 a.m. Firemen who attempted to lay hose on two burning houses used as a garrison by about 50 Negroes, were turned back by the whites.
About 6:40 a.m. fires in Negro shacks along Archer street were started; as the flames spread Negroes with upraised hands and crying “don’t shoot” fled from the blazing houses. They were rounded up and placed in prison camps.
Col. Markham in Command
Adjutant General Barrett took up his headquarters at the City Hall and announced that Col. B. H. Markham of Oklahoma City would be in command of field operations of the Guardsmen.
Throughout the morning, long lines of Negroes streamed westward along the streets leading to Convention Hall. Many wore their night clothing. Their sunken eyes told of a sleepless night and their ashen faces bespoke gripping fear.
Pathetic Scenes Enacted
Men, women and children carried bundles of clothing on their heads and backs. One old woman clung to a Bible; a girl with disheveled hair carried a wooly white dog under her arm and behind trotted a little girl with a big wax doll.
But all those who came to Convention Hall were not non-combatants. Repeatedly grim-faced men, heavily armed, whirled up to the hall directly from the scene of fighting. With them, closely guarded, were Negro prisoners captured with guns during the fray.
People Ordered to Disarm
All persons not deputized as special officers were ordered to disarm in a proclamation issued shortly before noon by Mayor T. D. Evans. Persons carrying guns will be arrested under the mayor’s orders.
Fires continued to rage all the morning in the Negro section, but at 11:30 a.m. it was believed the white residential districts which were imperiled would escape.
[Gun] Fire across Railroad Tracks
Steady gun fire broke out shortly after daylight near the Negro quarter.
The firing came from a spot where throughout the early morning hours 500 white men and a thousand Negroes faced each other across railroad tracks. First reports to the police said the bodies of from six to ten Negroes could be seen lying in a space described as “no man’s land.”
Officials had hoped that with the coming of dawn, the trouble which began over the arrest of a Negro late yesterday for an alleged attack upon a white girl would die out.
Whites Surround Black Belt
As the dawn broke 60 or 70 motor cars filled with armed white men formed a circle completely around the Negro section. Half a dozen airplanes circled overhead. There was much shouting and shooting. A row of houses along the railroad track was fired. A party of white riflemen was reported to be shooting at all Negroes they saw and firing into houses. The Negroes were said to be returning the fire desperately.
Situation Growing Worse
With the situation growing admittedly worse today, efforts were made to have the three local companies of the National Guard cope with the trouble pending arrival of Adjutant General Charles F. Barrett, who was reported en route here aboard a special train bringing additional troops from Oklahoma City.
Under orders issued last night by [Adjutant] General Barrett, Guard companies in several adjacent towns were prepared for possible duty.
Dick Rowland, Negro, charged with assault, was removed from the county jail during the night to a place of safety, it was learned today.
White Woman Killed
On fresh outbreaks at 7:30 a.m. in the Standpipe Hill district in the extreme northern section of the Negro quarter, Mrs. S. A. Gilmore, a white woman, was shot in the left arm and died. Mrs. Gilmore was standing on the front porch of her home when she was picked off by a Negro, one of a score or more barricaded in a church.
Hundreds of armed white men are being rushed to the district in automobiles. An open battle is believed imminent.
Policeman Fires First Shot
After Rowland, the Negro, had been lodged in jail last night, a crowd of about 200 Negroes assembled outside the building. Armed white men soon began gathering. The first shot, so far as known, was fired soon after dark when a policeman killed a Negro who he said resisted efforts to disarm him. The body was left in the street more than three hours. A white man was killed shortly afterward near the courthouse. The crowds meantime were augmented and the authorities then communicated with Governor Robertson and asked for troops.
2,000 Blacks under Guard
At 9 a.m. 2,000 Negroes had gathered at Convention Hall under guard. It was filled, as was the police station. The remainder of those gathered up are being taken to the baseball park, all under armed guards.
This is from June,1st 1921
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