Thirty Whites Held for Tulsa Rioting

The New York Times/June 5, 1921

They Are Alleged to Have Been Caught Looting Devastated Negro District

Grand Jury to Investigate

State Troops Are Withdrawn and Under Municipal Control

City Returns to Normal

TULSA, Okla., June 4.—Thirty white men have bean arrested and are being held for investigation as suspects in connection with the race riots here, Police Chief Gustafson announced this afternoon. Another white man, arrested by State Guardsmen on a complaint of inciting riot, is also being held. Police officials refused to reveal the names of the men.

The thirty whites under arrest are alleged to have been around plundering the devastated negro district. About seventy-five men have been taken into custody in the last two days on various charges, but many of them were released. Chief Gustafson declared that drastic measures would be taken against all looters.

“We are keeping a close record on all property recovered,” he said, “and as negroes identify their belongings we will demand that they swear to warrants for the arrest of the vandals .Prosecution will follow.

State guardsmen mobilized here to put down the race war were withdrawn this morning, leaving the city in control of city and county officials, reinforced by deputized former service men.

Business and social life here was fast returning to normal following the lifting of martial law late yesterday and many negroes were back to work.

Preparations for a grand jury investigation June 8 to fix the responsibility for the race outbreak, which resulted in the death of thirty-one persons and a property loss estimated at $1,500,000, were made today by the County Attorney.

A.H. Smitherman, negro, brother of A.J. Smitherman, editor of a negro newspaper which is alleged to have been a headquarters of the negro rioters, was held in the county jail today without bond. County officials also were seeking A.J. Smitherman. He left town during the rioting, but telephoned the Sheriff he would return when the trouble subsided.

J.B. Stratford, an alleged negro leader, was held at Independence, Kan., according to word received by Sheriff McCullough.

The death of Robert Hanson, 27 years old, brought the list of white dead up to ten today.

Many pitiful tales of the misery and suffering of the negro refugees were told today. Some ventured into the burned district, to come away with small bandana handkerchief bundles filled with their entire salvage from once excellent homes. In a prominent hotel yesterday the porter, being passed by the manager, summoned the courage to say:

“Boss, I’se gettin’ kinda weak.”

It was found he had been shot through the side and for twenty-four hours had feared to reveal his injury lest he be taken for one of the rioters and summarily executed.

Homes for thousands of negroes made destitute by the race rioting will be rebuilt by Tulsa business men, but a general plan of reconstruction was still being sought today by ,members of the Citizens’ Committee of Welfare, named for that purpose, and out of the burning of the negro section the negroes will profit, in one respect, for the business interests of the city are determined that a better and more sanitary section shall be erected.

Some prominent men object to rearing a new negro settlement on the ashes of the area destroyed, and suggest that land be bought in the northern section of the city where homes could be built with a view to city planning.

Judge L.J. Martin, Chairman of the committee, declared that 1,000 Tulsa men should volunteer each to build a negro a home. He said it would require not more than $1,000 for a home.

The relief work among the negroes was thoroughly organized today, and most of them had left the detention camp at the fairgrounds. White employers gave them shelter at their homes and business places.