July 31st, 2011 07:46 PM
News report April 6 1968, Washington DC
This is a quite interesting article. Makes me give some thought to if we have this kind of rioting again. I came across it while unsuccessfully researching the race riot in little Franklin, VA where windows were broken and a shop owner was shot and killed.
Note: This post is NOT about race. It is about social disorder.
Army Troops in Capital as Negroes Riot
April 6, 1968 (I think fair use applies here so I posted the whole article)
Army Troops in Capital as Negroes Riot
Guard Sent into Chicago, Detroit, Boston
Johnson Asks a Joint Session of Congress
Many Fires Set
White House Guarded by G.I.'s
14 Dead in U.S. Outbreaks
By BEN A. FRANKLIN
Special to The New York Times
ASHINGTON, April 5 -- President Johnson ordered 4,000 regular Army and National Guard troops into the nation's capital tonight to try to end riotous looting, burglarizing and burning by roving bands of Negro youths.
The arson and looting began yesterday after the murder of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis.
The White House announced at 5 P.M. that because the President had determined that ``a condition of domestic violence and disorder'' existed, he had issued a proclamation and an Executive order mobilizing combat-equipped troops in Washington. Some of the troops were sent to guard the Capital and the White House.
Reinforcements numbering 2,500 riot-trained soldiers - a brigade of the 82d Airborne Division from Ft. Bragg, N.C. _ were airlifted to nearby Andrews Air Force Base, to be held in reserve this weekend.
Guard Called in Other Cities
The National Guard also was called out in a half-dozen other cities in an effort to stem disorders or guard against them - Chicago, Detroit, Boston, Jackson, Miss., Raleigh, N.C., and Tallahassee, Fla.
The death toll from the violence stemming from Dr. King's assassination stood at a total of 14 tonight. Besides five deaths in Washington, they included seven in Chicago, one in Detroit and one in Tallahassee.
Mayor Walter E. Washington, who is a Negro, declared a 13-hour curfew, from 5:30 P.M. to 6:30 A.M. The Mayor's emergency order halted the sale of liquor and forbade the sale, transportation or possession of firearms, explosives or flammable liquids.
At midnight, the police reported five dead, all but one of them Negroes, in 28 hours of disorders in this city of about 800,000, 63 percent of them Negroes.
Four Negroes were killed today, including two suspected looters, one of them 14 years old, who were shot to death by policemen in separate isolated encounters across the Anacostia River, far from the areas of general disorders. The two other Negro deaths today were described as apparently the result of accidents.
The white man. George Fletcher, 28, of suburban Woodbridge, Va., died this morning from injuries he received when a gang of Negro youths attacked him and three white companions in a Washington filling station at 2 A.M.
More than 350 persons were treated at hospitals including seven policemen and six firemen. More than 800 persons were arrested.
The police said reports of fires and lootings were diminishing apparently in part due to a sudden drop in the temperature. After a sultry day, the night air was a brisk 40 degrees. The violence in Washington affected four areas of the city. For hours this afternoon and early evening, disorderly youths roamed most of the downtown shopping district, between 15th and Seventh Streets and F and H Streets N.W. The three other areas were all Negro sections.
There was no precise count of the number of fires or looted stores, but they ran well into the hundreds. George Christian, the White House press secretary, said the President had acted on the recommendation of Mayor Washington, the Mayor's public safety director, Patrick V. Murphy, and the police chief, John B. Layton.
The 2,800-man District of Columbia police force, after a night of looting and arson set off yesterday by the assassination, lacked the manpower to respond to mounting calls to detain looters and protect motorists and firemen. The looting and fires continued tonight. The police dispersed crowds as they gathered but made little or no effort to stop scattered looting by individuals and groups of two and three.
The city was abandoned tonight. Buses stopped running at dusk after a midafternoon rush of Government employees to flee the city. The Government workers and other civilians were advised by the police and Federal authorities to go home at about 2:30 P.M., a decision that caused a massive traffic jam and aided the looters. Police and fire vehicles were caught in the jam.
Also caught up in the unexpected disturbances were Washington's spring crush of thousands of tourists. Events scheduled for today and the weekend in connection with the Washington Cherry Blossom Festival - a major money-making attraction in this city, where tourism is the biggest industry - were canceled.
The opening game of the baseball season, the American League debut between the Washington Senators and the Minnesota Twins at D.C. Stadium, was postponed from Monday to Tuesday as a gesture of respect to Dr. King.
Both the outbreak of trouble last night and today's renewal of arson and looting followed angry public outbursts on Dr. King's death by Stokely Carmichael, the militant former chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating committee. He has been active as a committee field representative in Washington since his return from an around-the-world trip last January.
The looting last night followed a protest march led by Carmichael down 14th Street N.W., the center of a principal Negro commercial and shopping area. He demanded that businesses close for the night as a gesture of mourning for Dr. King. Then he urged Negroes to ``go home and get your guns.''
A Breathing spell
By dawn 14th Street was a shambles of shattered glass and scattered merchandise. But sunlight brought a breathing spell. Sanitation workers began shoveling up the shards of glass. At 10 A.M. Carmichael called a news conference at the 14th Street headquarters of the New School for Afro-American Thought.
Before television cameras he declared that ``white America has declared war on black America'' with the murder of Dr. King. There is ``no alternative to retribution,'' he said. ``Black people have to survive, and the only way they will survive is by getting guns,'' he said.
Less than an hour after the 30-minute news conference ended, Carmichael was in the street with a following of 50 Negroes. Both newsmen and the police lost track of him as the day progressed.
The police either could not or would not interfere with the looting and much of it was done brazenly, under the gaze of outnumbered police officers. Loot was hauled away in automobiles and trucks. During most of the afternoon the police dealt only with large groups of looters and a seemingly endless series of fires.
In the downtown shopping area of large department and specialty stores, the windows of such stores as Hecht's and Woodward and Lothrop's were smashed and looted. There were fires as both stores. The police appeared to concentrate their protective maneuvers along F Street, giving the other areas less priority.
In the second area hit, along Seventh Street N.W. from K to P Streets, looting and fires - the major fires of the day were concentrated there - gradually drained off the scattered police manpower. In a third area, looters and firebombers struck along 14th Street from downtown F Street as far north as Park Road N.W., nearly halfway to the Maryland line at Silver Spring. Another less well defined area of looting and arson was across the Anacostia River, in heavily Negro Southeast Washington. Two of today's deaths occurred there.
North and West of the city, the two contiguous suburban jurisdictions in Maryland, Montgomery and Prince Georges Counties, both declared local emergencies during the day, invoking most of the special powers, with the exception of a curfew, authorized in the city. More than 50 pieces of fire equipment from volunteer companies in suburban counties were rushed into the city during the afternoon to aid the overtaxed district fire department.
A rash of major fires broke out in the fourth area hit, along H Street N.E., a section of block-square department store and food warehouses just east of Union Station. It was the opening of this new front that appeared to convince reluctant city officials that the police could not continue the battle alone. Despite extended tours of duty that had kept some officers on their feet for nearly 24 hours, no more than about 1,000 patrolmen were available to cope with the spreading disaster. Openly, on the police radio, precinct commanders and other police officials expressed their exasperation.
Once the decision was made to summon Army troops, the deployment came rapidly. Mr. Johnson signed the orders at 4:02 P.M., similar to those he signed in sending Army troops to Detroit last summer during rioting. By the time the White House announced the arrival of military reinforcements an hour later, helmeted combat troops carrying rifles with sheathed bayonets were in position to protect the White House and the Capitol. A company of trained riot troops was billeted in the White House itself. Outside, other troops took station at the southeast gate.
Troops ringed the Capitol and set up a light machinegun post on the Capitol's west steps, overlooking the Mall. The precautions were more than routine in the case of the White House. Looting and fires reached within two blocks of it at about the time the troops began to arrive. Within hours, Army troops and federalized Guardsmen began establishing ``a visible presence'' - merely standing at parade rest - along 14th Street. As the soldiers arrived, the looting and arson advanced ahead of them into areas nominally still under police jurisdiction.
Tonight, as Guardsmen moved to occupy the upper reaches of 14th Street, as far north as Randolph Street, N.W., besieged residents of apartment buildings - most of them Negroes - cheered from their windows.
The troops fired a rolling barrage of tear gas before them. As they advanced, they passed a small shopping area - a dry cleaning establishment, delicatessen, bar and liquor store - all in flames. There was no fire fighting equipment on the scene. The troops included 2,000 men of the Army and Air Force National Guard of the District of Columbia, under regular Army command. There were two companies from the Third Infantry Regiment, the Capital's crack ceremonial unit at nearby Fort Myers, Va., and a squadron of the Sixth Cavalry Regiment from Fort Meade, Md., the Third Army headquarters halfway between Washington and Baltimore. The troops also included elements of the 91st Engineering Battalion from nearby Fort Belvoir, Va.
It was the first time regular Army troops had been ordered into Washington for a civil disturbance since 1932, when cavalry under the late Gen. Douglas MacArthur drove hundreds of protesting bonus marchers from a squatters' encampment on the Anacostia River.
"Each worker carried his sword strapped to his side." Nehemiah 4:18
Guns Save Lives. Paramedics Save Lives. But...
Paramedics With Guns Scare People!
July 31st, 2011 08:10 PM
1968 was a dreadful year, and that is all I want to say about the topic.
Copyrights exist for
95 years after publication date
for works published in that year (1964-1977) IF the work was published with notice, which I assume a newspaper routinely did.
I don't think "fair use" applies.
If the Union is once severed, the line of separation will grow wider and wider, and the controversies which are now debated and settled in the halls of legislation will then be tried in fields of battle and determined by the sword.
July 31st, 2011 08:35 PM
Same thing happened in Detroit...1968.
The last Blood Moon Tetrad for this millennium starts in April 2014 and ends in September 2015...according to NASA.
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July 31st, 2011 08:47 PM
Those were the troubled times and times that I hope they never repeat. I do feel that this year marked the beginning for the end of this great nation.
July 31st, 2011 08:52 PM
My father was working as a security guard in downtown St. Petersburg that summer.
Some pretty severe rioting went on, and his co-worker was shot one night.
When the fuel stops flowing, and there is no food on the shelves of the grocery stores, this will be a walk in the park
He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose. - Jim Elliott
The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it.
July 31st, 2011 09:00 PM
The cause and perpetrators may change, but rioting is always a possibility as long as people are human. And we can expect gov reactions like Mayor Washington's ban on the possession of firearms to be commonplace. Hell, the powers that be resort to this already during natural disasters.
"The flock sleep peaceably in their pasture at night because Sheepdogs stand ready to do violence on their behalf."
July 31st, 2011 11:07 PM
Actually, I remember this well. I was a student in the DOD Information School at Ft. Ben Harrison, IN. Shortly after this, all of the students (and cadre) had to take "Riot Control" Classes. It was just for a day and nothing ever happened. Pretty neat to be a part of history. (And still alive).
Originally Posted by paramedic70002
July 31st, 2011 11:46 PM
That little event wont even be remembered as an issue when the next one comes along.
I would rather stand against the cannons of the wicked than against the prayers of the righteous.
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July 31st, 2011 11:52 PM
My Dad was a Firefighter in Greensboro, NC at that time. He told me a story about how he was getting ready to pull his truck out and roll on a fire when he heard on the radio that the rioters were shooting at Firefighters.
I think the whole ordeal, whether it be in response to Dr. King's assassination to Boston winning the Stanley Cup, is completely stupid and in these cases the rioters should be treated like the animals they are acting like. Maybe it is because I am only 37 and have had very little to protest about, but I have never thought that doing violence to someone like a shop owner who had nothing to do with the reason I was protesting was a good idea.
"Don't hit a man if you can possibly avoid it; but if you do hit him, put him to sleep." - Theodore Roosevelt
August 1st, 2011 12:03 AM
Bad year, 1968 TET, then that. I was about six weeks away from coming home.Sad time in my life.
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BROWN WATER NAVY
August 1st, 2011 01:29 AM
Very interesting read.
I'm surprised we don't see more rioting with all the misinformation, ignorance and entitlement attitudes that are so prevalent in our society today.
Last edited by SIXTO; August 1st, 2011 at 09:32 AM.
"Just blame Sixto"
August 1st, 2011 05:15 AM
My dad was stationed at Nellis AFB in 1968,I was in the 5th grade,I don't remember too much.As far as rioting goes I think a lot of people use it as an excuse to steal stuff they wouldn't try until theres a huge distraction.
"Outside of the killings, Washington has one of the lowest crime rates in the country,"
--Mayor Marion Barry, Washington , DC .
August 1st, 2011 11:38 AM
A lot of major retailers basically abandoned D.C. after that and never reopened the looted and burned stores. There are parts of the city that even thirty years later did not have supermarkets. If you lived in the Eastern half of the city and wanted to go to a department store you either had to go to Sears on Wisconsin Ave above Georgetown or drive out to the suburbs and go to a mall. But they had plenty of liquor stores.
For some reason folks generally seem to forget that burning your own neighborhood is not the best idea.
Infowars- Proving David Hannum right on a daily basis
August 1st, 2011 12:13 PM
My father was in the Guard and was in the middle of all that crap. I wasnt even born yet.
Originally Posted by retsupt99
Don"t let stupid be your skill set....
Never be ashamed of a scar. It simply means, that you were stronger than whatever tried to hurt you......
August 19th, 2011 11:56 AM
This nation has seen nothing compared to what I believe is comming. Serouisly think about what no diesel fuel would mean to this nation. No food, no tobacco, no alcohol, no drugs legal or otherwise. Hungry people looking for food. No law enforcement, fire, EMS. Just you and those us trust banded together for protection. No security lights, no power. Truly ponder what it would mean to have no services for just a week? We aint seen nothing yet. Finally let our government take away guns from responsible citizens and then see who has guns and who does not. It won't be the good guys.
In a gun fight, you can not miss fast enough, to catch up.
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