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Race riot erupts in Beaumont

June
15
1943

On this day in 1943, whites and blacks clashed in Beaumont after workers at a local shipyard learned that a white woman had accused a black man of raping her. On the evening of June 15 more than 2,000 workers, plus perhaps another 1,000 interested bystanders, marched toward City Hall. Even though the woman could not identify the suspect among the blacks held in the city jail, the workers dispersed into small bands and proceeded to terrorize black neighborhoods in central and north Beaumont. Many blacks were assaulted, several businesses were pillaged, a number of buildings were burned, and more than 100 homes were ransacked. Acting Texas governor A. M. Aikin, Jr., placed Beaumont under martial law. More than 200 people were arrested, fifty were injured, and two--one black and one white--were killed. Another black man died later of injuries received during the riot. Twenty-nine of those arrested were turned over to civil authorities on charges of assault and battery, unlawful assembly, and arson. The remainder were released, mostly because of lack of evidence.

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