anonymous asked:

dude can you write more about night in the woods & your interpretation of it bc i feel like you'd have some gr8 things to say

I dunno, man.  One of the key things about Night in the Woods is that it leaves it all on the field, thematically speaking.  If it has a point to make it makes sure you notice, which means that there’s only so much unpacking to be done after the characters are finished explaining their personal metaphors to each other.

What analysis I have seen on the ol Lore Internet tends to be focused on what are to me the least interesting aspects of the story - the ol’ janitor is the forest god, the thing in the mine is Baphomet whose hooves tore a hole in the sky as it escaped the dreaming place, etc.  Which is like - OK, sure, I understand the impulse.  Mae sees something which is real but which nobody else is willing to talk about, and the fact that her friends will go with her to find it is proof (should Gregg require it) that they are brave and decent people.  But definitively answering “what is the monster in the mine” with “the devil” isn’t going along with May so much as it is enabling her.   Fails the good people check, and is also dumb.  There’s no such thing as ghosts.

Every horrible thing that has happened in Possum Springs from strikebreaking massacres to cave-ins to sinkholes is connected to the old mine, yes.  But it isn’t because there was a demon down there - it’s because there was coal in it.  The reason the town keeps flooding is a) it was built somewhere you shouldn’t build a town in the first place on account of there was coal nearby b) because of what happens to trees and topsoil when you do open pit c) because we have all burned too much coal and the weather’s going nuts.  Everyone’s moms and dads and brothers are dead because mine runoff is full of poison and it’s bad for babies, and the poisoned people keep voting against healthcare because the people who are anti-healthcare are Pro-Coal and will protect the Coal Way of Life from the fuckers who think we should just bung a bunch of solar panels in the mojave instead.   The Hole at the Center of Everything is a literal sinkhole.  The fires of hell are the fires of Centralia.   The trucks that ran Gregg’s sheep over were probably coal haulers!  Mae’s terrible ex-boyfriend is literally named Cole!  

Yeah so the game is mostly about fossil fuels and I think that’s underreported

anonymous asked:

could you write something about Crutchie getting super bad nightmares but doesn't tell anyone and they get so bad he shops feeling safe at the lodge so one night he tries to sneak away but Jack catches him and is super worried and not even angry like Crutchie thought he would be if he was caught sneaking out. Finally Crutchie tell him what's wrong and then lots of snuggles and soft forehead kisses occur in comfort

Ooohhh, I really like this one. So, here goes.

A loud thump across the room jolts Crutchie out of his sleep. He lays there, for a moment, blankets bunched up between his legs, fingers grasping at the mattress beneath him, clinging to reality. His breaths continue to come as short gasps that he fought to keep as silent as humanly possible. Don’t wake anyone up. Don’t. Not here. If he woke them up, Crutchie isn’t sure how they would react.

If Crutchie had woken to a nightmare only a month earlier, he would have immediately turned to one of the other boys for help. He had trusted them to help him. But, he can’t. Not anymore.

The dream keeps coming back to him. Crutchie had thought he could distinguish reality from fiction, but now…

It always started the same: the strike. Everything was going well. They hadn’t backed down to the Delancey brothers. But, then the cops and strikebreakers showed up and what had started out strong and defiant faltered, before bowing, crumpling beneath the weight of defeat. The strike shifted and suddenly all was fearful chaos. Then, the Delanceys would start advancing towards Crutchie and he knew he needed to run and he tried, he tried, but then someone would push him into the Delancey’s arms and he couldn’t escape, no matter how much he fought and kicked and struggled.

Crutchie tried to catch a glimpse of who had pushed him, but each time he closed his eyes, it was a different face. Specs. Race. Mush. Buttons. Romeo. Finch. Jack. 

Jack. They had all betrayed him, but it was Jack’s betrayal that stung the most. Crutchie could never quite forget Jack’s words only a couple days before: Would I let you down? No way. And then his hands would shove roughly against Crutchie’s shoulders and he’d be captured by the Delancey brothers.

Crutchie hadn’t thought it was real, refused to believe that someone had actually pushed him towards the Delanceys. But, as the dreams continued, Crutchie was forced to admit that maybe, maybe, he was just now remembering correctly. His family has betrayed him and Crutchie just doesn’t feel safe around a group of boys that wouldn’t hesitate to leave him behind to take the fall.

Throughout the room, Crutchie can hear the other newsboys shifting in their sleep, snoring, mumbling. For a moment, he thinks that he can just fall back asleep and ignore the dream, ignore those awful implications. But, the room feels too suffocating and Crutchie isn’t sure that he can stay much longer. He can’t stand it. He has to leave and he has to leave now.

As quietly as he can manage, Crutchie slips his vest on over his night shirt and pulls his pants on. He ties his shoes, his fingers shaking. For years, these newsboys have been the only family in his life and now… Crutchie had never imagined that he would leave them, but he can’t stay among them. Who knows if something else will fall apart and they’ll leave him to take the punishment? Crutchie can’t handle another trip to a Refuge-esque boy’s home; he won’t make it. 

Which only leaves one option, really.

Taking one last quick glance around the room, Crutchie grabs his crutch and a small bag of his belongings and starts out of the room. He is extra careful with the clicking of the wooden crutch against the ground, moving as slowly and silently as possible. Once he is out of the room, he breathes out a soft sigh. He’s fine. He made it out. It’s just a short walk to the Lodging House door and then he’ll be free.

Except, Crutchie knows that he doesn’t have anywhere else to go. All he has are the newsboys. He knows that he can probably try finding a spot with newsies of a different borough, but Crutchie worries that Jack or the other Manhattan boys will find him if he stays so close by. Crutchie isn’t stupid and he knows just how angry Jack will be that Crutchie ran. Maybe he could scrounge up enough money to take a train far away? Not to Santa Fe. Crutchie could never go there. But, maybe there was some other small city he could call his own, find his own family, like Jack used to describe.

First things first, though, Crutchie knows that he needs to find somewhere to spend the night. There’s no way to make money in the shadows of the night. At least, no ways that are even remotely palatable to Crutchie.

He eases the Lodging House door closed and starts toward the street. Maybe he can find an alley that will protect him from the sharp winds that cut through the street. It will just be one night, and then he’ll be able to find somewhere more permanent. 

“Hey!” The call stiffens Crutchie’s shoulders immediately. No. No, he was supposed get away safely. No one was supposed to be up. Crutchie can feel his chest tightening. He can feel those hands on his shoulders, roughly shoving–

“Hey, Crutch, what are you doing?” Crutchie hesitates, before turning and facing Jack, who jumps down from the bottom rung of the fire escape. “It’s late, you should be sleeping,” Jack says, before truly looking at Crutchie. Slower, more careful, he asks, “Where are you going with your stuff?”

Crutchie shrugs. “Just taking a walk,” he tries, afraid that Jack will call his bluff.

He does. “With everything?”

“Look, Jack, I just need some fresh air. You can understand that.”

“Yeah, I do. You wanna come up to my roof?”

“Nah, I gotta clear my mind. Walk around a bit.”

“I’ll come with,” Jack offers.

Crutchie shakes his head much too quickly. “N-no, I’ll go by myself.”

Jack looks hurt and confused, and he doesn’t speak for a moment. When he does, his voice is shaking. “Are ya… Are ya running?”

 Crutchie glances at the ground, before meeting Jack’s eyes again. He had always had trouble lying to Jack. “Yes,” he whispers. “I gotta get outta this place.”

Jack’s shoulders deflate. “Can I ask why? Is it… Is it because of the Refuge?”

“I don’t know… Kinda,” Crutchie admits. “But it’s…” He doesn’t know how to tell Jack this. Jack will be mad. He’ll sputter indignantly that none of the Manhattan boys would ever do anything bad to Crutchie. He’ll mock Crutchie for even thinking such a thing. Or, worse, he’ll confirm the truth of Crutchie’s dreams.

“You can tell me, yeah?”

“I just… You remember the strike?” Crutchie asks, figuring that if he is running anyway, nothing harmful could possibly come from the truth. Jack nods slowly at Crutchie’s question. “Yeah, well, I keep dreaming–and, I’m scared it’s not a dream, that it’s real–but, I keep dreaming that one of you guys pushed me into the Delanceys and I-I can’t stay around people that are going to keep betraying me and I just gotta go somewhere where I can be safe.”

Crutchie lowers his eyes, unwilling to watch Jack’s reaction. As the silence stretches long and uncomfortable between the friends, Crutchie begins to back away. Jack’s hand shoots out, grabbing Crutchie’s arm, causing the younger boy to flinch. “No, sorry,” Jack apologizes, hastily withdrawing his hand. “I just… Don’t leave, okay? I… That ain’t what happened, Crutchie. I just want you to know that…” Jack falters, watching as Crutchie seems to deflate at his words. “W-what’s wrong?” He had thought that he was saying everything correctly.

“I just knew you’d defend those boys,” Crutchie whispers, his voice small with self-degradation.

This time, Jack doesn’t hesitate, pulling Crutchie into a tight hug. “I’m sorry,” he murmurs into Crutchie’s hair. “I’m so sorry, Crutch. If I’d’ve known… I didn’t mean for ya to be taken to the Refuge, you know. I’d’a made you stay home if I thought you’d’ve been in trouble. I swear,” he finishes, squeezing Crutchie tightly. Crutchie doesn’t speak, but he doesn’t try to break out of the hug, either. “And I know,” Jack continues, “that words can’t help all that much. Or at least they don’t feel like they do. But, you mean everything to me. Everything, Crutch. I can’t do this without you.” Jack pulls out of the hug, holding Crutchie slightly away from him so that he can look into the younger boy’s eyes. “So, if you’re going, then you just gotta wait a minute while I pack up my stuff so that I can come, too.”

“Why?” Crutchie asks.

Jack stammers out a soft, “I… I love ya, Crutch. And I can’t be without you.”

Crutchie glances to the ground once more, his fingers tightening anxiously around his crutch. “You… you would tell me if someone had… I mean, if someone did… If anyone pushed me? During the strike?” Crutchie bites his lip. “I just wanna know. I can’t stand not knowing if it’s real or not. I just need truth.”

“No one pushed ya,” Jack whispers. “And if I find out someone did, I’ll show them what it really feels like to be pushed ‘round.”

Crutchie cracks a hesitant smile. “Th-thanks, Jack. It means a lot.”

“You wanna go up to the roof?” Jack asks, unsure if Crutchie still intends to leave the Lodging House.

“If that’s okay…?”

“Of course, come on up.” Jack helps Crutchie up the fire escape and Crutchie carefully sets his bag of personal belongings down beside him. The younger boy lays down, stretching his bad leg out, barely suppressing a wince. “You okay?”

“Fine. Just tired.”

Jack nods. He lays beside Crutchie, where the younger boy is within arm’s reach. He doesn’t expect to sleep at all this night, and plans to stay awake and make sure his best friend doesn’t have to fight anymore nightmares. “Okay, good night, Crutch.”

Crutchie doesn’t immediately wish Jack a good night. Instead, he stares pensively at the stars above him. When he does speak up, his voice is timid. “Jack, earlier you said… Well, you said you loved me. What does that mean?”

“It means that you’re my best friend in the whole world,” Jack quickly replied, ignoring the blush that creeps, burning, to the tips of his ears. 

“That’s it?”

“Um,” Jack hesitates. He had promised Crutchie the truth; he can’t remain silent now. “No, that wasn’t it. I… When I said I loved ya, I meant more than just a friend, but it don’t mean nothing. It’s just… I…” Jack doesn’t know what to say next, doesn’t know if there’s anything he can say.

“Oh.” Crutchie turns away from Jack and Jack’s heart sinks. Softly, Crutchie continues, “I think I love ya, too, Jack.”

“What kind of love?” Jack asks, pressing down the eagerness that flares up at the admission.

Crutchie half-shrugs. “The same kind as you?” He turns back over to face Jack. “Is that okay?”

Jack smiles. “Of course, it’s okay. Whatever you do, is okay. Except running off, that’s not okay.”

Crutchie grins at that. “I’m sorry, Jack. I was just… afraid.”

Hesitantly, Jack scoots closer to Crutchie, wrapping his arms around the younger boy. Crutchie leans his head against Jack’s chest, sighing. “Hey. Hey, you don’t got any need to be afraid ever again, yeah? I’se always gonna be here for you.”

“I know. Thanks, Jack.”

Jack tenderly kissed Crutchie’s forehead. “I got ya, Crutch, and I ain’t ever letting go.”

also, related to cornfield gothic; appalacian gothic aesthetic, because son there is some shit in those hills

  • tall mountains and deep valleys, forests with thick dense green trees and quiet, sly shadows.  you see them on the trail sometimes and when you look, they’re gone.
  • the land is pockmarked with mineshafts.  some smell like fire and some like blood and all of them are guarded by the ghosts of union miners.  they ask you, aggressively, if you’re a fucking company strikebreaker every time you walk past. 
  • (if they don’t believe you when you say no, they’ll kill you.) 
  • mrs. cooper’s moonshine could knock an elephant on its ass.  you drink and you taste the stars, you taste the coal, you taste oil, you taste your own terror. 
  • your family has always lived in this holler.  your father was born here.  your grandfather.  your grandfather’s grandfather.  you knit new blankets every christmas and use them to cover their bones.  
  • there are some people who pray to jesus and some who pray to satan.  you are most afraid of the ones who pray to the small gods in the coal mines. the gods of black lung and cancer, the gods of mine collapses and company stores, bleeding every last dime from your pockets. they are greedy gods, and hungry ones.  
  • outsiders will ask you what bluegrass is.  you do not know if they are asking about the music or the grass; both are bloody, and both belong to some wordless thing you can only sing to.  
  • your neighbors leave their christmas lights on through july.  this is not because they are lazy; this is because they are afraid, and fifteen hours of darkness is a long time to be without protection.  
  • your brother works in a coal mine.  your brother has always worked in a coal mine.  he brings it home with him.  his eyes are black now.  your mother won’t let him in the house.
  • sometimes the mountains stir.  your father blames it on that newfangled fracking business.  your neighbors pretend it doesn’t happen.  your grandmother says the mountains are angry. you fill your pockets with coal and fall asleep listening to them sing to each other, and you try and think of a way out. 

2017 thinkpieces we can expect to see soon, apparently

-Why I Support Strikebreakers (It’s For The Workers)
-Scab Is A Slur
-Working Class People And Gays Work For These Unethical Companies So We Have To Give Our Money To These Companies And Shouldn’t Boycott Them
-Why Ayn Rand Can Teach Us Something About Labor Practices

anonymous asked:

Jewish Bucky pls

Title: Day Of Atonement
Rating: PG
Summary: Bucky thinks he’s got a lot to atone for. Fortunately, there’s a holy day for that.
Notes: Thanks to arsenicjade for checking this one over for me. :D 

When Steve was little, he didn’t comprehend or even notice that good boys from his building didn’t play with the Jewish boys one block over. When he got older he understood it, but ignored it; after all, his mom didn’t care, so why should he?

Sarah Rogers didn’t give an Irish damn what the biddies in the parish thought of her or her son, as few of them had raised much of a hand to help her when Joseph was alive, and anyone she chose to associate with didn’t give a damn either. On the few occasions someone pointed out Steve’s choice in friends, she said, with an affectionate smile, “Well, Steve’s never been good at idiot rules.”

Steve ran about for most of his childhood in short pants with Bucky Barnes (Lefty Commie Jewish ma, Lefty Commie Convert dad) and Arnie Roth (orthodox, kind-hearted father, dead mother), who lived on the border between the Jewish neighborhood and the Irish one, an invisible but very tough membrane. Arnie drifted off eventually, too scared of seeming any kind of different to play with goyim, but Bucky and Steve battled angry Irish boys in Steve’s half of the street and (less often) tough Jewish boys in Bucky’s half, and soon enough most people who knew them left them alone. Sarah kept a jar of kosher pickles and a special plate for Bucky when he visited, and while she couldn’t send food over to the Barnes family, she did look after Bucky and Becca when the Barnes parents needed to go to a rally or a protest, and the time the strikebreakers put Bucky’s dad in a bad way because he was trying to Unionize.

If Steve ate a lot more matzoh growing up than most Irish, Bucky and Becca occasionally got a meal that might not strictly speaking be entirely kosher.

“Do you remember Yom Kippur back in ‘35, the year after my mom died?” Steve asked. He tried not to ask do you remember too often, but Erev Yom Kippur was in two days, and he didn’t know if Bucky would want to remember, or to participate.

“You wanted to fast with us,” Bucky said, sitting at Sam’s kitchen bar. “Mom wouldn’t let you. She had the Rabbi in to tell you the sick didn’t have to fast.”

“He boxed my ears when I lipped off to him, too.”

“He said that you were a gentile anyway, which was punishment enough.”

“Never lipped off to the Rabbi again,” Steve said ruefully, and Bucky smiled. “It’s comin’ up, you know.”

The smile dropped off his face. “I know.”

“Sam would drive you to Temple if you wanted. We could both fast with you,” Steve ventured. Bucky hadn’t left the house since they’d brought him here.

“Don’t remember much — ” Bucky’s lips twisted. “Bet I could still make kreplach, all the times we watched Mom do it, but the prayers, the words, it’s all…”

He made a faint gesture, fingers fluttering away from his head. Lost to the Winter Soldier.

“They got me,” he said bitterly. “They didn’t put me in a camp but they got me just the same.”

“Hey, no, it’ll come back,” Steve said. “It will. If you can still make kreplach you can still pray. That kinda stuff doesn’t leave you, Buck.”

“It’s Yom Kippur. I got a lot to atone for. There’s too much — “

"I don’t believe that, and I don’t think you do either, not deep down. Anyway, your dad always said the best thing about bein’ a Jew was wholesale one-day forgiveness,” Steve said. Bucky’s mom had always swatted him for that.

Bucky looked at him, head bent, only his eyes moving. “What if I can’t remember?”

“Well, then you’ll have to go back to Hebrew school,” Steve said with a grin. “I hear the Rabbis don’t box ears anymore.”

“Bet they would if you lipped off to them, you were the worst at lipping off,” Bucky replied.

"So you’ll go? Sam and I will come if you want, at least, you know — ”

“Yeah, fine,” Bucky sighed. “I don’t know, dragging you two goyim around with me, G-d better send me patience for the pair of you…”

I am an equal opportunity Newsies shitposter, so to follow up the Hannukah album, I’ve had Cowboy Kelly and the Jackstreet Boys take on Christmas.

(as always, I worked hard on this, do not steal it or post it elsewhere and do not tweet it to the actors)

Yes, those are newsboy caps on the reindeer. I am nothing if not thorough.

Tracks Include:

  1. The Little Jacobs Boy
  2. Crutchie Got Run Over By A Reindeer
  3. Strikin’ Around The Christmas Tree
  4. I Saw Medda Kissing Santa Claus
  5. Davey the Red-Cheeked Dorkball
  6. Up On The Rooftop (Because That’s Where I Sleep, Apparently)
  7. Strike! The Herald Square Newsies Sing
  8. You’re A Mean One, Mr. Pulitzer
  9. All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Tickets To Santa Fe…Wait, No, Make That Three (Sorry, Dave)
  10. Extra Papes Roasting On An Open Fire
  11. Happy Xmas (Strike Is Over)
  12. The Strikebreaker Suite (instrumental)

i want you to vote labour tomorrow, and i’m going to tell you why. 

i have felt alienated by the labour party for most of my life. when labour won in 1997, it was led by a public schoolboy who i think we can all agree was not a socialist. there is an alternate universe where gordon brown stood against tony blair for the labour leadership in the 1990s, and we had a labour government led by a socialist economist who quoted marx in his speeches and was uncompromising and stubborn and furious about inequality, and i wish we lived in that world. but we don’t. we live in a world where that man became tainted by new labour, too. ‘we are all middle class now,’ said tony blair, as a gang war raged through my city and people i knew did not have enough food for their children and i was told, over and over, that geordie accent will hold you back. it was a lie then, and it’s a lie now. so believe me when i say: i have felt alienated by the labour party. 

but also believe me when i say: the labour party was founded for people like me, by people like me, and it is mine. it belongs to me as a consequence of my birth, as a consequence of being alive. it is mine. it is a party for workers, founded by workers, and for a world to exist where we could have this party, people died. people starved. people fought strikebreakers in the streets and marched in protest and risked life and limb and livelihood, and we are left with what their sacrifices have won us. and i understand, if you feel alienated by labour now, but it still remains: it is mine. and if you are a person oppressed and punished and marginalised by the last government, by the conservative party, by a thousand years of the british class system, it is yours, too. 

at root, this is about belief. i love the labour party, and the labour movement, even if i do not love the people who lead it, because i am not that sort of person. but i would rather choose to take a chance, and believe in the sort of person i think ed miliband is: a person fighting a war, a fucking terrifying, bruising, painful war, a war that has seen him punched in the street and his father slandered and his uncle’s funeral infiltrated by daily mail journalists, and kept going. and going. and going. i believe in the man who stood up to the banks, and the energy companies, and rupert murdoch, and who refused to go to war in syria. i believe in the man who will end non-dom status and cut tuition fees and end the bedroom tax. i believe in the son of a marxist intellectual who believes that politics is life and death and has dedicated his life to the labour movement, despite terrible personal cost. i don’t expect him to be perfect. but i do expect him to be socialist. i do expect him to help the people who need it most. i do expect him to be better

i would rather believe in something, and have it fail me, than believe in nothing at all. to just not bother. to be cynical and not even try. and that’s harder, it’s much harder, than doing nothing, than not believing. but every election is about risk. all politics is risk. but if you don’t take a risk, you don’t win. and the possibility that we could have a socialist government in 24 hours, that we could end the fucking murderous neo-thatcherite horrorshow of the past five years, that makes it a risk i’m willing to take. and it’s a risk i want you to take, too. it won’t fix everything. but it will fix so much. and isn’t that worth it? isn’t that worth the risk? risk being wrong, because you might be right. 


The Great Railroad Strike of 1877 began on July 14 in Martinsburg, West Virginia, and ended some 45 days later after it was put down by local and state militias, as well as by federal troops.

Top 5 Simpsons Moments:
Grandpa Simpson: “We can’t bust heads like we used to. But we have our ways. One trick is to tell stories that don’t go anywhere. Like the time I caught the ferry to Shelbyville. I needed a new heel for my shoe. So I decided to go to Morganville, which is what we called Shelbyville in those days. So I tied an onion to my belt. Which was the style at the time. Now, to take the ferry cost a nickel, and in those days, nickels at bumblebees on ‘em. Give me five bees for a quarter, you’d say. Now where was I? … Oh yeah. The important thing was that I had an onion tied to my belt, which was the style at the time. You couldn’t get white onions, because of the war. The only thing you could get was those big yellow ones …“

Happy May Day! The first May Day was a massive strike for the 8 hour workday in Chicago, led by a coalition of socialists, union leaders and anarchist revolutionaries in 1886. That strike remained peaceful for three days, until police and strikebreakers instigated violence.

The paltry labor standards we have were not given to us. Our great grandparents fought and bled and didn’t ever back down. Those workers were people of color, queer people, women, the disabled, the exploited, and the poor. Remember them today.

Today in labor history, April 6, 1905: Teamsters in Chicago begin a sympathy strike in support of locked out Montgomery Ward & Co. workers who were on strike to protest the company’s use of nonunion subcontractors. When other businesses rallied to the company’s defense, the dispute spread quickly. Workers battled strikebreakers, police, and scabs for 105 days; 21 people died.

The Lynching of William Brown: The Entire Story Of An African-American Man Framed For Rape & Then Tortured & Murdered By An All-White Mob in Omaha, Nebraska During The Red Summer of 1919 [TW: Graphic Content, Racism, Ethnocentrism, White Privilege]

What Led Up To Will Brown’s Lynching

Three weeks before the riot, federal investigators had noted that “a clash was imminent owing to ill-feeling between white and black workers in the stockyards.”[1] The number of blacks in Omaha doubled during the decade 1910–1920, as they were recruited to work in the meatpacking industry, and competing workers noticed. In 1910, Omaha had the third largest black population among the new western cities that had become destinations following Reconstruction. By 1920, the black population more than doubled to more than 10,000, second only to Los Angeles with nearly 16,000. It was ahead of San FranciscoOaklandTopeka, and Denver.[2][3]

The major meatpacking plants hired blacks as strikebreakers in 1917.[4] Hostility against them was high among working class whites in the city, who were mostly Catholic immigrants of southern and eastern Europe, or descendants of immigrants, who lived chiefly in South Omaha. Ethnic Irish were among the largest and earliest group of immigrants and they established their own power base in the city by this time. Several years earlier following the death of an Irish policeman, ethnic Irish led a mob in an attack on Greektown, driving the Greek community from Omaha.[5]

With the moralistic administration of first-term reform mayor Edward Parsons Smith, the city’s criminal establishment led by Tom Dennison created a formidable challenge in cahoots with the Omaha Business Men’s Association. Smith trudged through his reform agenda with little support from the Omaha City Council or the city’s labor unions. Along with several strikes throughout the previous year, on September 11 two detectives with the Omaha Police Department’s “morals squad” shot and killed an African American bellhop.[6]

The violence associated with the lynching of Will Brown was triggered by reports in local media that sensationalized the alleged rape of 19-year-old Agnes Loebeck on September 25, 1919. The following day the police arrested 41-year-old Will Brown as a suspect.[4][7] Loebeck identified Brown as her rapist, although later reports by the Omaha Police Department and the United States Army stated that she had not made a positive identification. There was an unsuccessful attempt to lynch Brown on the day of his arrest.[6]

The Omaha Bee publicized the incident as one of a series of alleged attacks on white women by black men. The newspaper had carried a series of sensational articles alleging many incidents of black outrages.[8] The Bee was controlled by a political machine opposed to the newly elected reform administration of Mayor Edward Smith.[7]:8 It highlighted alleged incidents of “black criminality” to embarrass the new administration.[6]:157

At about 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, September 28, 1919, a large group of white youths gathered near the Bancroft School in South Omaha and began a march to the Douglas County Courthouse, where Brown was being held. The march was intercepted by John T. Dunn, chief of the Omaha Detective Bureau, and his subordinates. Dunn attempted to disperse the crowd, but they ignored his warning and marched on. Thirty police officers were guarding the court house when the marchers arrived. By 4:00 p.m., the crowd had grown much larger. Members of the crowd bantered with the officers until the police were convinced that the crowd posed no serious threat. A report to that effect was made to the central police station, and the captain in charge sent fifty reserve officers home for the day.

By 5:00 p.m., a mob of about 4,000 whites had crowded into the street on the south side of the Douglas County Courthouse. They began to assault the police officers, pushing one through a pane of glass in a door and attacking two others who had wielded clubs at the mob. At 5:15 p.m., officers deployed fire hoses to dispel the crowd, but they responded with a shower of bricks and sticks. Nearly every window on the south side of the courthouse was broken. The crowd stormed the lower doors of the courthouse, and the Police inside discharged their weapons down an elevator shaft in an attempt to frighten them, but this further incited the mob. They again rushed the police who were standing guard outside the building, broke through their lines, and entered the courthouse through a broken basement door.

It was at this moment that Marshal Eberstein, chief of police, arrived. He asked leaders of the mob to give him a chance to talk to the crowd. He mounted to one of the window sills. Beside him was a recognized chief of the mob. At the request of its leader, the crowd stilled its clamor for a few minutes. Chief Eberstein tried to tell the mob that its mission would best be served by letting justice take its course. The crowd refused to listen. Its members howled so that the chief’s voice did not carry more than a few feet. Eberstein ceased his attempt to talk and entered the besieged building.

By 6 p.m., throngs swarmed about the court house on all sides. The crowd wrestled revolvers, badges and caps from policemen. They chased and beat every colored person who ventured into the vicinity. White men who attempted to rescue innocent blacks from unmerited punishment were subjected to physical abuse. The police had lost control of the crowd.

By 7 p.m., most of the policemen had withdrawn to the interior of the court house. There, they joined forces with Michael Clark, sheriff of Douglas County, who had summoned his deputies to the building with the hope of preventing the capture of Brown. The policemen and sheriffs formed their line of last resistance on the fourth floor of the court house.

The police were not successful in their efforts. Before 8 p.m., they discovered that the crowd had set the courthouse building on fire. Its leaders had tapped a nearby gasolinefilling station and saturated the lower floors with the flammable liquid.

Shots were fired as the mob pillaged hardware stores in the business district and entered pawnshops, seeking firearms. Police records showed that more than 1,000 revolvers andshotguns were stolen that night. The mob shot at any policeman; seven officers received gunshot wounds, although none of the wounds were serious.

Louis Young, 16 years old, was fatally shot in the stomach while leading a gang up to the fourth floor of the building. Witnesses said the youth was the most intrepid of the mob’s leaders.

Pandemonium reigned outside the building. At Seventeenth and Douglas Streets, one block from the court house, James Hiykel, a 34-year-old businessman, was shot and killed.

The crowd continued to strike the courthouse with bullets and rocks. Spectators were shot. Participants inflicted minor wounds upon themselves. Women were thrown to the ground and trampled. Blacks were dragged from streetcars and beaten.

About 11 o'clock, when the frenzy was at its height, Mayor Edward Smith came out of the east door of the courthouse into Seventeenth Street. He had been in the burning building for hours. As he emerged from the doorway, a shot rang out.

“He shot me. Mayor Smith shot me,” a young man in the uniform of a United States soldier yelled. The crowd surged toward the mayor. He fought them. One man hit the mayor on the head with a baseball bat. Another slipped the noose of a rope around his neck. The crowd started to drag him away.

“If you must hang somebody, then let it be me,” the mayor said.

The mob dragged the mayor into Harney Street. A woman reached out and tore the noose from his neck. Men in the mob replaced it. Spectators wrestled the mayor from his captors and placed him in a police automobile. The throng overturned the car and grabbed him again. Once more, the rope encircled the mayor’s neck. He was carried to Sixteenth and Harney Streets. There he was hanged from the metal arm of a traffic signal tower.

Mayor Smith was suspended in the air when State Agent Ben Danbaum drove a high-powered automobile into the throng right to the base of the signal tower. In the car with Danbaum were City Detectives Al Anderson, Charles Van Deusen and Lloyd Toland. They grasped the mayor and Russell Norgard untied the noose. The detectives brought the mayor to Ford Hospital. There he lingered between life and death for several days, finally recovering. “They shall not get him. Mob rule will not prevail in Omaha,” the mayor kept muttering during his delirium.

Meanwhile the plight of the police in the court house had become desperate. The fire had licked its way to the third floor. The officers faced the prospect of roasting to death. Appeals for help to the crowd below brought only bullets and curses. The mob frustrated all attempts to raise ladders to the imprisoned police. “Bring Brown with you and you can come down,” somebody in the crowd shouted.

On the second floor of the building, three policemen and a newspaper reporter were imprisoned in a safety vault, whose thick metal door the mob had shut. The four men hacked their way out through the court house wall. The mob shot at them as they squirmed out of the stifling vault.

The gases of formaldehyde added to the terrors of the men imprisoned within the flaming building. Several jars of the powerful chemical had burst on the stairway. Its deadly fumes mounted to the upper floors. Two policemen were overcome. Their companions could do nothing to alleviate their sufferings.

Sheriff Clark led his prisoners (there were 121 of them) to the roof. Will Brown, for whom the mob was howling, became hysterical. Blacks, fellow prisoners of the hunted man, tried to throw him off the roof. Deputy Sheriffs Hoye and McDonald foiled the attempt.

Sheriff Clark ordered that female prisoners be taken from the building due to their distress. They ran down the burning staircases clad only in prison pajamas. Some of them fainted on the way. Members of the mob escorted them through the smoke and flames. Black women as well as white women were helped to safety.

The mob poured more gasoline into the building. They cut every line of hose that firemen laid from nearby hydrants. The flames were rapidly lapping their way upward. It seemed like certain cremation for the prisoners and their protectors.

The Lynching of Will Brown

Then three slips of paper were thrown from the fourth floor on the west side of the building. On one piece was scrawled: “The judge says he will give up Negro Brown. He is in dungeon. There are 100 white prisoners on the roof. Save them.”

Another note read: “Come to the fourth floor of the building and we will hand the negro over to you.”

The mob in the street shrieked its delight at the last message. Boys and young men placed firemen’s ladders against the building. They mounted to the second story. One man had a heavy coil of new rope on his back. Another had a shotgun.

Two or three minutes after the unidentified athletes had climbed to the fourth floor, a mighty shout and a fusillade of shots were heard from the south side of the building.

Will Brown had been captured. A few minutes more and his lifeless body was hanging from a telephone post at Eighteenth and Harney Streets. Hundreds of revolvers and shotguns were fired at the corpse as it dangled in mid-air. Then, the rope was cut. Brown’s body was tied to the rear end of an automobile. It was dragged through the streets to Seventeenth and Dodge Streets, four blocks away. The oil from red lanterns used as danger signals for street repairs was poured on the corpse. It was burned. Members of the mob hauled the charred remains through the business district for several hours.

Sheriff Clark said that Negro prisoners hurled Brown into the hands of the mob as its leaders approached the stairway leading to the county jail. Clark also reported that Brown moaned “I am innocent, I never did it; my God, I am innocent,” as he was surrendered to the mob.[6]Newspapers have quoted alleged leaders of the mob as saying that Brown was shoved at them through a blinding smoke by persons whom they could not see.

The Aftermath & Consequences

The lawlessness continued for several hours after Brown had been lynched. The police patrol was burned. The police emergency automobile was burned. Three times, the mob went to the city jail. The third time its leaders announced that they were going to burn it. Soldiers arrived before they could carry out their threat.

The riot lasted until 3 a.m., on the morning of September 29. At that hour, federal troops, under command of Colonel John E. Morris of the Twentieth Infantry, arrived from Fort Omaha and Fort Crook. Troops manning machine guns were placed in the heart of Omaha’s business district; in North Omaha, the center of the black community, to protect citizens there; and in South Omaha, to prevent more mobs from forming. Major General Leonard Wood, commander of the Central Department, came the next day to Omaha by order of Secretary of War Newton D. Baker. Peace was enforced by 1,600 soldiers.

Martial law was not formally proclaimed in Omaha, but it was effectively enacted throughout the city. By the request of City Commissioner W.G. Ure, who was acting mayor, Wood took over control over the police department, too.

On October 1, 1919 Brown was laid to rest in Omaha’s Potters Field. The interment log listed only one word next to his name: “Lynched”.[9]

The Omaha Riot was denounced throughout the country. The arrest and prosecution of mob leaders was widely demanded. Police and military authorities apprehended 100 of the participants on charges ranging from murder to arson and held them for trial. The Army presence in Omaha was the largest in response to any of the race riots with 70 officers and 1,222 enlisted men. By early October, the emergency had passed and the Army contingent declined to two regiments by the middle of the month.

The district court ordered a grand jury to convene and investigate the riots and a grand jury was impaneled on October 8 . After a six week session, the grand jury issued a report that criticized the Smith administration for ineffective leadership and police incompetence. Army witnesses testified to their belief that more prompt police action could have controlled the riot.[10] 120 indict­ments were handed down for involvement in the riots.

Of the 120 persons indicted for involvement in the riot most were never successfully prosecuted, and all were eventually released after serving no term of imprisonment[11]


General Wood initially blamed the disturbance on the Industrial Workers of the World, as part of the Red Scare then prevalent in the US. This interpretation was not supported by the evidence, however. Wood’s actions in rebuilding the police force, investigating the riot and arresting the ring leaders showed a greater appreciation of the situation. Omaha police identified another 300 people wanted for questioning, including Loebeck’s brother who had disappeared.


Reverend Charles E. Cobbey, the pastor of the First Christian Church, blamed the Omaha Bee for inflaming the situation. He was reported to have said, “It is the belief of many that the entire responsibility for the outrage can be placed at the feet of a few men and one Omaha paper.” The inflammatory yellow journalism of the Bee is credited by several historians for stoking emotions for the riot.[12]

The US Army was critical of the Omaha police for their failing to disperse the crowd before it grew too large. Other critics believe the Army was slow to respond to the crisis; this was a result of communications problems, including the crisis caused by President Woodrow Wilson’s having been incapacitated by a stroke. (Requests by the governor for National Guard assistance had to go to the President’s office.)

Tom Dennison[edit]

Many within Omaha saw the riot within the context of a Conspiracy Theory, the direct result of alleged conspiracy directed by Omaha political and criminal boss Tom Dennison. Aturncoat from Dennison’s machine said he had heard Boss Dennison boasting that some of the assailants were white Dennison operatives disguised in blackface. This was corroborated by police reports that one white attacker was still wearing the make-up when apprehended. As in many other Dennison-related cases, no one was ever found guilty for their participation in the riot.[13] A later grand jury trial corroborated this claim, stating “Several reported assaults on white women had actually been perpetrated by whites in blackface.” They went on to report that the riot was planned and begun by “the vice element of the city.” The riot “was not a casual affair; it was premeditated and planned by those secret and invisible forces that today are fighting you and the men who represent good government.”[10]

Racial tension[edit]

The event was part of an ongoing racial tension in Omaha in the early 20th century. There were attacks on Greek immigrants in 1909. The migration of many blacks into the city pursuing economic opportunities sparked racial tension in the state. After the Omaha riot, the Ku Klux Klan became established in 1921. Another racial riot took place in North Platte, Nebraska in 1929. There were also violent strikes in the Omaha meat packing industry in 1917 and 1921 and concerns about immigrants from Eastern Europe.

After the riot, the city of Omaha, previously a city in which ethnicities and races were mixed in many neighborhoods, became more segregatedRedlining and restrictive covenantsbegan to be used in new neighborhoods, with African Americans restricted to owning property where they already lived in greatest number, in North Omaha. Although segregation has not been legally enforced for generations, a majority of Omaha’s black population still lives in North Omaha.

Source: Wikipedia