On this daySep 22, 1906

White Mobs Terrorize African Americans in Atlanta, Killing Dozens

Image | Le Petit Journal

On September 22, 1906, after local newspapers reported sensational allegations that several white women had been assaulted by black men, mobs of angry white men gathered in the streets of Atlanta, Georgia to attack and kill black men on sight. The mobs seized upon streetcars, trapping them inside and shooting or beating them to death. When the streetcars suspended service due to the violence, the rioting mobs ransacked black businesses, and chased, beat, and shot black men wherever they could find them. The police and fire departments called upon to quell the unrest failed to restore order, and the militia was unable to stop the violence. 

In a public statement during the rioting, Atlanta Mayor James Woodward placed blame on the black men being killed rather than the white men doing the killing. “The only remedy is to remove the cause,” Woodward said. “As long as the black brutes assault our white women, just so long will they be unceremoniously dealt with.”

Mayor Woodward’s ambivalence empowered the mobs and the massacre continued. For a total of four days, black people were violently terrorized throughout Atlanta and its surroundings with little protection from authorities. In contrast, when black citizens of the nearby Brownville suburb attempted to arm themselves in defense, Georgia troops raided their homes, taking weapons and arresting those in possession of weapons. After four days of riots, between twenty-five and forty people were dead and countless more were injured.

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