Harlem Riot of 1943
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On August 1, 1943, an NYPD policeman hit an African American woman who was being arrested for disturbing the peace at the Braddock Hotel in Harlem. Robert Bandy, a black soldier in the U.S. Army, tried to stop the police officer striking the woman again. The situation rapidly escalated; the police officer drew his service revolver and shot Bandy in the shoulder.
Bandy's wound was not serious, but he was taken to a nearby hospital, and crowds quickly gathered at the hospital, the hotel, and police headquarters. An onlooker shouted that an African American soldier had been killed, provoking a riot.
The rioters, mostly African Americans, destroyed property throughout Harlem. As most of the businesses in the borough were under white ownership, many shops were looted. New York Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia ordered that a force of 6,600 city police, military police and civil patrol men enter Harlem and restore order. In addition 8,000 State Guardsmen and 1,500 civilian volunteers were posted around the borough to contain the rioters. Order was finally restored on August 3. The mayor then had food delivered to the residents of Harlem, which helped appease the matter.
Hundreds of businesses were destroyed and looted, the property damage approaching $5,000,000. Overall, six people died and nearly 400 were injured. Five hundred men and women were arrested in connection with the riot.
- Harlem Riot of 1935, trouble that began after rumors circulated that a young child had been severely beaten by a shopkeeper.
- Harlem Riot of 1964, six days of civil disorder that occurred after an African American teenager was shot and killed by an NYPD lieutenant.
- Ralph Ellison's novel Invisible Man, which dramatizes the riot.
- James Baldwin's essay Notes of a Native Son, which recounts his first hand experience of the Riot which occurred on the same day of his 19th Birthday and his father's funeral.