Tuesday, April 21, 1970
Trouble in 1970
Violence broke out between about 150 blacks and 20 police shortly after 9 a.m. today at the administration center of School District 497 at 2017 La. in the wake of incidents Monday night that included three fires, vandalism and shooting reports.
One police officer was injured in the disturbance and a witness said at one point officers used tear gas and mace to break up a fight.
The officer was identified by Lawrence Memorial Hospital as Thomas M. Jackson, a department of public safety officer. He sustained a gash over his eye when, one witness said, he was struck with a club. He was treated and released.
Both Gilbert Smith, public safety director, and Richard Stanwix, police superintendent, could not be reached for comment.
At least 21 windows were broken by blacks in both the Lawrence High School buildings and the administration center building during the violence.
The demonstrators tried several entrances, but could not get inside to the administration wing of the building. The doors were locked until police arrived.
One school official told the Journal-World that the demonstrators gathered in the Veterans Park area and then marched south in front of the high school to the administration building. While they were marching, the windows in the high school were broken by rocks.
Witnesses said at least five individuals whose names are known, threw the rocks as the entirely school-age group, estimated to be about three-fourths students at LHS, passed the building. They did not try to gain admittance to the high school building.
Police, arriving shortly after the demonstrators, formed a skirmish line and moved the blacks back before they disbursed, again from the Veterans Park area, northeast of the high school.
Two minor fires, one major fire, at least one shooting incident and four cases of vandalism were reported to Lawrence police all within about a two-hour period Monday night.
All three of the fires were termed as either definitely or probably arson by Lloyd Davies, assistant state fire marshal, who investigated all three incidents.
However, Mike Elwell, assistant county attorney, said today that investigators have no suspects in any of the arson or vandalism cases.
The first incident, a call of a fire at the School District 497 administration building, 2017 La., was reported at 9:13 p.m. The call came approximately ten minutes after about 200 blacks left in disgust a meeting of the school board, which was being held in the Lawrence High auditorium next door.
Firemen arrived to find two windows in the south side of the building broken out and curtains inside one of the windows in flames. Inside the other window, two smashed bottles were found on the floor. Paint was scorched, but damage was estimated at $50.
Forty years ago today, the Kansas Union burned. What followed was a year of violence and destruction not seen since Quantrill's Raid. While the unrest has long since dissipated, the memories remain.
Davies termed the first fire "definitely" arson. "It had to be deliberate," he said, "with the rocks and bottles around."
While firemen were on the way to the scene, one of the fire trucks was fired on in the vicinity of 19th and Tenn. Firemen aboard the truck both heard the report and saw the muzzle flash of the weapon. There are no suspects.
Police, almost immediately after that, received three calls virtually at the same time of incidents of vandals breaking glass at three local glass firms. About five minutes later, glass breakage at the Santa Fe depot, 413 E. 7th, was reported.
The three glass firms were Wilson Glass Co., 512 E. 9th, Apex Glass Co., 313 E. 8th, and Auto Glass Co., 730 N.J. All three incidents were reported at 9:29 p.m.
Damage estimates were heaviest at the Apex Glass Co., $700, and at the Auto Glass Co., $500. The Wilson Glass Co. reported $150 damage, and Santa Fe officials estimated $30 damage to their windows and building.
Police today said the glass breakage in "a couple" of the instances might have been from gun shots, but that determination was difficult. First reports from the area, however, indicated gun shots were heard.
At 10:38 p.m., the fire, termed "probably arson", was reported at the Kansas Union. The fire, with damage mounting to possible $1 million, kept five fire units occupied most of the rest of the night.
The two remaining units answered another fire call at 11:06 p.m., this time to the Woods Lumber Co., 1516 W. Sixth. Firemen said that the fire occurred in a pile of lumber in the middle of the company's yard. Davies said the only way a fire could have started in that location was if it were set.