Document 12A: "Police Clubs Rout 200 Defiant Reds, Smash Banners and Scatter Harlem Marchers Who Lacked Permit," New York Times, 26 April 1931, p. 2.


    The power of the Scottsboro Mothers as a symbol of universal maternal suffering over the fate of their children was not lost on the Communist Party and the International Labor Defense, which managed the defense of the Scottsboro Boys and organized mass protests. As the embodiment of righteous outrage, the mothers and other family members traveled nationwide and internationally to carry the message of "Free our innocent children" and "Black and white workers, unite." The nine reports that follow (see documents 12A-12I) represent a variety of editorial voices covering the northern protests, from the Southern Worker to the New York Times.



Smash Banners and Scatter
Harlem Marchers Who
Lacked Permit.




Three Accused of Kicking Patrolman
--Crowd Protests Death Sentences
on Negro Boys in Alabama.


    Two hundred Communists undertook to march down Lenox Avenue through the centre of Harlem yesterday afternoon in defiance of the police ….

    The demonstration began as a quiet meeting at Lenox Avenue and 140th Street, called as a preliminary to May Day to protest the sentencing to death of eight Negro boys between 14 and 18 years old, in Scottsboro, Ala., which the banners called "legal lynching." Placards and speakers demanded a new trial for the boys, and called the sentence a "railroading" unheard of in the history of the country, and engineered by capitalists against children of the working class.

    The crowd, partly white and partly Negro, grew more enthusiastic as the speaking continued. At length, Frank Alexander, of the International Labor Defense, Negro, asked the crowd if it cared whether the police had forbidden it to parade, and a yell of "no" was the reply ….

    Many of the paraders reunited in small groups lower down on Lenox Avenue and walked quietly and without banners to Fifth Avenue and 110th Street, where another meeting was held. Mrs. Janie Patterson, mother of Haywood Patterson, 17, one of the condemned boys, who arrived in New York Friday night, was present at the meeting.


back to top