State Troops in Charge

Tulsa Daily World/June 1, 1921

Barrett Heads Machine Gun-Armed Guards; Negroes Driven From Burning ‘Black Belt’

Armed White Parties Are to Be Disbanded


At 9:45 armed citizens and one guard corporal marched the prisoners which had been held in Convention Hall south through town. It was reported the negroes were to be corralled at the Western league park.

A detachment of state troops from Oklahoma City arrived here at 9:30 this morning, two companies of infantry and one machine gun company.

More troops are on the way and officials believe that by noon the situation will be completely in hand.

Adjutant General Charles F. Barrett of Oklahoma is in direct charge of all troops on the ground.

Martial law will not be declared unless absolutely necessary, according to the adjutant general.

The adjutant general, the troops from Oklahoma City and local guard units placed on duty early this morning are working hand in hand.

The first move by the troops, according to General Barrett, will be to disarm most of the disorganized bands of whites who are riding about the city armed to the teeth.

With the appearance of the machine gun company, with guns mounted and bandoliers in position to begin firing on an instant’s notice, the tenor of mob violence which has prevailed for the past 12 hours took on a decided note of calm and armed bodies of volunteers and expectant citizens quickly gave way to the command of the troops.

At the time the troops arrived it was reported that the “black belt” was beyond the power of all human agency to save from flames which bid fair to raze the entire section.

At the same time the negro section was reported destitute of an inhabitant other than a scattered few in hiding which were being routed out in a house-to-house drive by armed white forces.

Convention hall, converted into a prison, is jammed with hundreds of negroes taken captive by volunteer whites. Both city and county jails are full of prisoners.

Whites Advancing Into ‘Little Africa;’

Negro Death List is About 15

With the coming of dawn this morning, following a night of race rioting and death, hundreds of armed white men in motor cars formed a circle of steel about “Little Africa,” and a continuous rattle of rifle and revolver fire could be heard.

Sixty or seventy automobiles filled with armed men were in the line drawn about the black belt and there were many reports to the effect that they planned to range through the negro settlement and “clean it out.”

At 5:30 the death list was estimated as high as fifteen. Though no whites were known to be killed save two unidentified men listed in The World, reports to police headquarters from members of the white bands who had been at “the front” between the line of armed whites and “Little Africa” said they had counted the bodies of more than a dozen negroes stretched in the streets.

While the bands of armed white men in motor cars were surrounding the negro district six airplanes were circling over the section. Scattered along the Frisco tracks and in streets immediately south were between 500 and 1,000 more armed white white men. Talk of driving into “Little Africa” could be heard on all sides.

At 5:45 the white forces were pushing into “Little Africa” from the south, bands of white riflemen being reported at Elgin and Archer. They were reported to be shooting into houses and at all negroes in sight. There was no report of the extent of casualties. The negroes were not returning the fire very spiritedly, it was reported, but negro snipers were shooting from housetops and windows.

Shortly after 2 o’clock this morning, the row of frame buildings on the east side of Boston Avenue north of the Frisco tracks was fired, but because there was no wind, the flames burned themselves out and did not spread to the Cincinnati avenue block which sheltered several hundred negroes.

At 3 o’clock the fire had gained sufficient headway to destroy all the buildings except the residence on the north end of the block. When this building was burned, six negroes who had been firing from the house at the whites were driven from cover and five of the six who ran from the house were killed. White men who took up their station at Archer and Boston before 3 o’clock succeeded in pushing their line almost to Cincinnati avenue in the face of fire from the negroes. The negroes, however, made no dashes from their places of hiding and except for the firing of a few shots at intervals, did not attempt to dislodge whites in the negro section of the city.

Members of the crowd of 500 whites around the Frisco depot about 5 o’clock this morning engaged in a spirited battle with several negroes perched on housetops. However, the aim of the blacks was bad and no whites were injured, but three negroes were killed within a short space of time.

One of the blacks was perched on a two-story brick building on Archer. He raised up to fire but one of the whites with an army rifle beat him to it and the black toppled, apparently dead. The other two blacks were hiding on Archer and were dropped by the white sharpshooters.

Three other black bodies were lying near the depot at daylight this morning. Two bodies had been removed.

Tate Brady, proprietor of the Brady hotel, who was a member of white men on guard duty along North Main Street all night, said he counted the bodies of five negroes.