Denies Negroes Started Tulsa Riot

The New York Times/June 5, 1921

Head of Blood Brotherhood Defends the Purpose of the Organization

The African Blood Brotherhood, which is believed by the authorities in Tulsa, Okla., to have fomented the race riot in that city, yesterday issued a formal statement denying that this organization or members of its Tulsa branch were in any way the aggressors in the Tulsa disturbances. Cyril V. Briggs, executive head of this organization, claiming 150 branches throughout the country with a membership of 50,000 negroes, said that in a way he welcomed the race riot in Tulsa, because it would convince the whites that the to the last ditch to preserve his rights.

The purpose of the African Blood Brotherhood, according to Briggs, is to install into the mind of the negro race that it must “hit back” when it is struck. Otherwise the negro will be branded as a coward, and will forever remain at the mercy of the white man.

Asked why the African Blood Brotherhood did not encourage its members to resort to the courts to correct any grievances, Briggs said that the negro had long since lost faith in the “justice of the white man toward the negro.”

The formal statement of the African Blood Brotherhood, issued from the office of The Crusader, organ of the brotherhood, 135th Street and Seventh Avenue, reads:

An article in THE TIMES Of June 4 implies responsibility on the part of the African Blood Brotherhood for the unfortunate bloody occurrences in Tulsa, Okla. This organization has no other answer to make save to admit that the African Blood Brotherhood is interested in having negroes organized for self-defense against wanton attack.

“Certainly the available facts in the case show that the casus belli was supplied by the whites, and that the whites were the aggressors, the act of a white man in attempting to unarm a negro precipitating the general fight which followed. Haven’t negroes the right to defend their lives and property when these are menaced, or is this an exclusive prerogative of the white man?

“And where not the negroes who gathered to defend the Tulsa jail against attack by a white mob, and to defend a prisoner confined in that jail against the murderous intents of white hoodlums out for a lynching bee—were not these negroes acting in behalf of ‘law and order,’ and in defense of the prisoner’s Constitutional right to a legal trial by his peers and with ‘due process of law?’”

The Tulsa riot will be discussed from the negro’s point of view at a mass meeting to be held at 4 o’clock on the afternoon of Sunday, June 10, at St. Mark’s Hall, 57 West 138th Street, and the Committee of Propaganda of the African Blood Brotherhood is distributing circulars inviting “every negro tired of lynching, peonage, Jim-Crowism, discrimination etc., to come out and hear our plan of action for removing these injustices which we suffer as negroes as well as those other injustices which we suffer with others, as workers.”