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On September 28, 1919, race riots began in Omaha, Nebraska, ultimately resulting in the brutal lynching of Will Brown and the attempted hanging of Mayor Edward Parsons Smith.
Tensions had been brewing in the city for around a decade after there was an influx of black workers in the area’s meat packing industry. The situation was exacerbated by the sensationalist reporting of black crime in the area.
A mob of about 4,000 whites gathered together and assaulted police officers, hoping to attack Brown, a black man who had been accused of raping a white teenager. Brown was being held at the courthouse, where the mob broke every window amidst police attempts to quell the situation. The crowd eventually began attacking black bystanders. More than 1,000 guns were stolen by the mob, who wreaked havoc on the city.
Eventually the crowd did get to Brown. He was hung from a nearby tree. His body was mutilated and shot at by the crowd and then dragged through the streets and burned. Troops manning machine guns were eventually brought in to restore order and prevent the formation of future mobs. It took 1,600 soldiers to enforce peace.
Pictured above: A white mob stands over the burned body of Will Brown.
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