Postwar Washington, D.C., roughly 75 percent white, was a racial tinderbox. Housing was in short supply and jobs so scarce that ex-doughboys in uniform panhandled along Pennsylvania Avenue.
However, Washington’s Black community was then the largest and most prosperous in the country, with a small but impressive upper class of teachers, ministers, lawyers and businessmen concentrated in the LeDroit Park neighborhood near Howard University.
By the time the “Red Summer” was underway, unemployed whites bitterly envied the relatively few blacks who were fortunate enough to procure low-level government jobs. Many whites also resented the influx of African-Americans into previously segregated neighborhoods around Capitol Hill, Foggy Bottom and the old downtown.
In July 1919, white men, many in military uniforms, responded to the rumored arrest of a Black man for rape with four days of mob violence. They rioted, randomly beat Black people on the street and pulled others off streetcars in attacks. When police refused to intervene, the Black population fought back.
Troops tried to restore order as the city closed saloons and theaters to discourage assemblies. When the violence ended, 15 people had died: 10 whites, including two police officers; and five African-Americans. Fifty people were seriously wounded and another 100 less severely wounded. It was one of the few times when white fatalities outnumbered those of Blacks.
All over my facebook feed pro cop folks are saying #bluelivesmatter smh fucking clowns.