"Nine Greek Cafes Wrecked by a Mob" article - New York Times, July 15, 1907
Published in The New York Times, July 15, 1907
NINE GREEK CAFES WRECKED BY A MOB
Roanoke Rioters Also Stone the Mayor,
Police Justice, and Police.
CONSUL IS ASKED TO ACT
Mayor Says the Riots Are Shameful
And Promises to Protect the Greeks.
ROANOKE, Va., July 14. – Roanoke is quiet to-day after four hours of rioting last night, when a mob wrecked nine Greek restaurants, some of which were elaborately furnished; three Greek shoe-shining places, and two Syrian shops. The riot was caused by a dispute about five cents between a Greek employed in the Belmont Greek restaurant on Salem Avenue and an American who went there to buy a sandwich.
Five men have been arrested and lodged in jail, and one of them has been released on $250 bail for his appearance at the hearing of the case in the Police Court next Thursday. None of the Greeks is under arrest. They have employed counsel to look after their interests, and have already called the attention of the Greek Consulate in this country to the affair.
While the disturbance was in progress last night Mayor Joel H. Culchin, who was begging the crowds to disperse, was struck on the legs and severely bruised by stones thrown by unknown parties. Stones also struck Police Justice J. R. Bryan, Police Sergt. Overstreet, Policemen Manning, King, and Evans, and the Chief Engineer John Waggoner of the Central Fire Department. Waggoner is on crutches to-day.
The Fire Department was called out to throw water on the crowd, and when the hose was unwound there were cries of “cut the hose” and “shoot him.” One man stuck a knife in the hose, but was driven away by the big stream that was played on him. The Mayor ordered the police to guard the hardware stores to prevent the mob from raiding those places in search of firearms.
United States District Attorney Thomas Lee Moore to-night, when asked if he would take any action in the matter, said that the case is not covered by the Federal statutes. The procedure would be for the offended Greeks to appeal to their Government, which would then apply to the United States for proper protection, and the Washington Government would refer the matter to the Governor of Virginia.
James D. Johnston, counsel for the Greeks, to-night made this statement:
“The Greeks have confidence in the sense and fairness and justice of the Roanoke people, and believe they will be reimbursed for the damage they have sustained.”
Nicholas George, head of the local colony of Greeks, to-night said he had referred the matter to D. N. Botassi, Greek Consul General at New York, with the request that he take it up with the Washington authorities.
In a statement to-night Mayor Joel R. Culchin says the ‘regrettable occasion of last night has brought the blush of shame to every good citizen of Roanoke.” He explains that the riot occurred soon after midnight, when the city was in semi-darkness, the police force of seven men scattered over the city without any facility for concentrating them at the scene, and that the three officers nearest the point of attack where unable to cope with the crowd. He and the Chief of Police were quickly summoned, but meantime the mob had increased in numbers for a thousand.
“It was impossible to find any one who did the throwing,” he says, “the crowd showing a disposition to shield each other. Citizens volunteered to aid the police, but it was impossible to avail of their services for lack of equipment. Half a dozen Virginia military institution students were furnished with riot guns to protect the jail. Two of the day policemen reported for duty, making nine men in all, and the Chief of Police soon had arrested and locked up ever one inciting to violence and disorder. Police cleared the streets and the city was again quiet.
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