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Ben Hall

Klan Elements in Detroit Again Whitewashed

(January 1944)

From Labor Action, Vol. 8 No. 2, 10 January 1944, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

DETROIT – The final daub of whitewash to cover the dirty role of the Detroit police department under the administration of Police Commissioner Witherspoon and Mayor Jeffries during the June race riots was administered by the police trial board hearing charges against two Negro policemen.

Jesse Stewart and William McKinley Williams, the two Negro patrolmen, were found guilty, according to the board, of “neglect of duty.” They were suspended from the department for four months. They were accused of failing to intervene when a group of five hundred Negroes was urged to go to Belle Isle Park on the eve of the rioting.

Two, and only two, Negro patrolmen were expected to attempt to deal with the crowd! But what of the scores of policemen who were on the scene of the actual rioting at Woodward near Peterboro when thousands of white persons, under the influence of Ku Klux Klan elements, beat Negroes, destroyed their property and attempted to invade the Negro neighborhood nearby? The police there used “kid glove” methods and stood by idly while Klansmen had free hand. No investigations there! No suspensions!

What of the shootings of Negroes by the police? No investigations! Were the shootings unjust and indiscriminate attempts to terrorize the Negro population? Who cares? – as long as the police department gets a clean slate and as long as Negro patrolmen are made the scapegoats! The real culprits are the Klan elements and the police who refused to act against them. The suspension of the Negro patrolmen is another attempt to hide this fact from the public.

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