THE PURGE: 1917 EAST ST. LOUIS MASSACRE

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The East St. Louis riots, or East St. Louis massacres, of late May and July 1-3, 1917 were an outbreak of labor- and race-related violence by whites that caused the death of 40-250 black people and approximately $400,000 (over $8 million, in 2017 US Dollars in property damage. An estimated 6,000 black people were left homeless. The events took place in and near East St. Louis, Illinois, an industrial city on the east bank of the Mississippi River across from St. Louis, Missouri. The July 1917 riot was marked by white-led violence throughout the city. These events have been described as the worst case of labor-related violence in 20th-century American history, and among the worst race riots in U.S. history.

Afterward the East St. Louis Chamber of Commerce called for the resignation of the police chief because of the failure of the police force to suppress the violence and destruction. At the end of July, some 10,000 people marched in silent protest in New York City in condemnation of the riots. A number of blacks left the city permanently; black enrollment in the public schools dropped by 35% when schools opened in the fall.
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