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The Militant, 29 June 1946

Robert L. Birchman

Incendiary Bomb Assault on Negro Widow
Covered Up by Chicago Cops, SWP Reveals

From The Militant, Vol. X No. 26, 29 June 1946, p. 8.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


CHICAGO, June 21 – The conspiracy of silence that had surrounded the incendiary bombing of the home of Mrs. Grace Hardy, Negro widow, on the night of May 1, was broken this week. All Negro papers in Chicago except one carried the story. The daily press, however, still remains silent about this terrorist act of “white supremacists” trying to drive Mrs. Hardy from a “white” neighborhood.

All stories in the Negro press credited the Socialist Workers Party here with first exposing the facts.

Mike Bartell, Chicago organizer of the Socialist Workers Party, last Tuesday, presented the facts in the case to the meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. They unanimously decided to take immediate steps to defend the right of Mrs. Hardy to her home, see that an investigation is carried out, and that the anti-Negro arsonists responsible for partially burning Mrs. Hardy’s home and seriously injuring her are apprehended and punished.

Defense Committee

A special Grace Hardy Defense Committee was established. The committee and Mike Bartell interviewed representatives of the Mayor’s Committee on Human Relations, who promised to conduct an investigation. Police Commissioner John C. Prendergast has refused a conference with the special NAACP committee.

In letters to both Commissioner Prendergast and Thomas H. Wright, director of the Mayor’s Committee on Human Relations, NAACP Attorney Sidney A. Jones stated:

“The most serious aspect of this case is the utter failure of the Chicago Police Department to take any action whatever to attempt to solve this heinous crime. What is even worse than doing nothing is apparently, from our information, the efforts of the Chicago Police Department to completely suppress the news and records of this crime.”

CIO Backs Fight

“Negroes cannot feel safe in Chicago with such horrible crimes as this occurring, and the fact that they are taken so casually by the Police Department. There has not been one arrest and no apprehension of any person in connection with the bombings and actions of this kind which have occurred in Chicago for the past few years.”

The Chicago CIO Council at its meeting last night endorsed the fight to apprehend the arsonists and protect the right of Mrs. Hardy to her home.

Representatives of the CIO Council, the NAACP and the SWP will meet this week preparatory to the organization united action around the case by the trade union movement, Negro organizations, working class political parties and other progressive groups.

Evidence uncovered by the Socialist Workers Party disclosed conclusively that the Police Department failed to conduct an investigation into the crime. The record of the bombing was no longer in the files of the neighborhood Police Station. Every policeman at the station, however, knew of the crime and referred to it as that “accident on Garfield Boulevard.”

The record was found in the Bureau of Records in downtown Chicago. It was made out on a form entitled “Copy of Accident Report.” The following words, “Was burned by torch that was thrown through her kitchen window by some unknown person,” appear in the space for “Description of Accident.” Beyond brief questioning of Mrs. Hardy at the Englewood Hospital, on the night of the bombing no police investigation has been carried out.

But the report of the Fire Department, found buried in files at a different station than the one in the neighborhood, states: “INCENDIARY BOMB thrown through window – 1st floor. Fire went to 2nd floor.” (Our emphasis.)

Pattern of Years

A preliminary investigation by the Socialist Workers Party of the more than 40 similar crimes in the past two and a half years reveals a whole pattern of threats and violence that have accompanied attempts of Negroes to break down the segregation walls that enclose them in the South Side “Black Ghetto.”

The record is one of bombing, arson, vandalism, breaking of windows, shooting into the homes of Negroes. There has been extensive destruction of property, numerous cases of burns and other injuries, and deaths of the victims of these acts of race terrorism.

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