Document 12H: "5,000 Fight Police in Harlem Streets; Trouble Starts as Tear Gas Is Used to Halt an Unlicensed Scottsboro Protest Meeting," New York Times, 18 March 1934, p. 1.



Trouble Starts as Tear Gas Is
Used to Halt an Unlicensed
Scottsboro Protest Meeting.




Some Hurt as Missiles Fly, but
They Use Neither Pistols
Nor Blackjacks.


    Five thousand Negroes and white sympathizers rioted in Harlem yesterday afternoon when detectives used tear-gas bombs to disperse an unauthorized meeting staged at Lenox Avenue and 126th Street to protest the Scottsboro case.…

    According to the police, the meeting…was arranged by the International Labor Defense to mark the return from Alabama of Mrs. Ada Wright, mother of two of the Negro defendants in the Scottsboro case, Roy and Andy Wright. She had gone to Alabama to visit her sons.

    Mrs. Wright, the police said, was met at the Pennsylvania Station…escorted…to the Grand Central Station and thence by train to the 125th Street station of the New York Central Railroad, where a delegation of 1,500 awaited her.

March, Shouting, to Meeting.

    Shouting and bearing placards reading "Welcome Ada Wright, mother of Roy and Andy," "Free the Nine Scottsboro Boys,"…welcomers marched…to 126th Street.

    Here a huge crowd, mostly Negroes, awaited them. The crowd surged around a makeshift speakers' platform placed at the northeast corner. The sidewalk was completely blocked and the jam extended out into Lenox Avenue.

    Loud cheering and clapping greeted the marchers. [Samuel] Stein, leading Mrs. Wright, elbowed his way through to the speakers' platform, mounted it and began to speak.

    He told of Mrs. Wright and her visit to her sons. He introduced her to the crowd. She waved her hand in greeting. Deafening cheers acknowledged her salute. Then two automobiles filled with detectives drove up [demanding to see a permit for the meeting. Ignored by the crowd the police returned with tear gas.]

    Then missiles began to fly. Stones, fruit, eggs and sticks were hurled at the detectives…

    The crowd was in an angry mood. Police reserves and emergency squads were called. Soon a dozen fights were in progress between policemen and demonstrators…It was not until the motorcycle policemen arrived that the fighting was finally stopped…The police estimated that more than 5,000 persons took part in the riot.

    [Solomon] Harper, in his denunciation of "police brutality," declared that when the detective cars drove on the sidewalk to break up the meeting Mrs. Wright "would have been run down if some one had not pulled her away."

    He said there would be more protests tonight at a meeting in the New Star Casino, 107th Street and Park Avenue, where Mrs. Wright will appear.

back to top