The Twenty-First Street Examination Before the Mayor
May 16, 1867
The mayor examined the case of the twenty-first street disturbance between policemen and black men.Many people were left injured in the conflict because people threw bricks and fired shots.
THE TWENTY-FIRST STREET DISTURBANCE EXAMINATION BEFORE THE MAYOR On yesterday morning the continued cases of Dr. Banks and Aaron Short and William Holloway (white) were called up before the Mayor. Policemen O'Dwyer, Sweeney, Franklin, and Engel, and Corporal Forrester, of the Libby Prison guard, were called as witnesses for the prosecution. Policeman O'Dwyer testified that he heard the distress rap on Saturday night near Twenty-third street. Answered it, and found policeman Sweeney near the corner of Twenty-fourth and Main streets attempting to arrest Dr. Banks and Aaron Short. They resisted stoutly. A crowd was gathered about. Witness assisted Sweeney in the arrest of Short, who resisted. Arrested him, and carried him towards the station-house. When he got near Twenty-third street, Short struck him and kicked him; whereupon he struck Short. Crowd hallooed, " Don't you strike him, you G-- d-- white rebel son of a --; if you do, we'll kill you." When he got near Twenty-second street he was knocked down by some one unknown. Prisoner got on top of him, and witness turned him over, and getting up, started on with him. When near the court-house he was knocked down again, and bricks were thrown at him; and when he got up, lost sight of prisoner. Saw a man in front of him just in the act of throwing a brickbat at him; he pulled out his pistol and fired ; the man fell and hallooed out, "Oh, I'm shot." He got up and went over to the other side of the street, and fell again. Witness thinks he was carried off. Just afterward saw soldiers. Sent to the Libby, and soldiers were sent to the relief. When soldiers came, crowd was well dispersed. They patroled the streets and made arrests. Policeman Sweeney testified that on Saturday night, near about 10 o'clock, he heard a noise near the corner of Twenty-fifth and Main streets, he proceeded in the direction from which the noise came, and found Doctor Banks and Aaron Sharp engaged in a difficulty. He told Doctor Banks, who was making the noise, that he must keep quiet on the street at night. Banks said, " G-- d-- it, I'm not making any noise; you are making the noise." Witness took hold of Banks, who said, "What business have you to insult me, G-- d-- it?" Went on towards the station-house with prisoner, followed by six negroes, to whom policeman Franklin turned and said, " You see we have given this man an opportunity to behave himself." When they reached the corner of Twenty-fifth street the prisoner stopped, and said "he be G-- d-- if he would walk an inch further," and resisted strenuously, putting his hand in his pocket as if to get a knife. Witness, as soon as he saw this, struck him with his club. At this time Short reached over and caught witness by the collar, and remarked, "God d--n it, don't strike that man." He (Short) was then knocked down by Sweeney. In the meantime, policeman Franklin, who had stopped behind to keep the crowd quiet, came up, and Sweeney seized Banks, and Franklin Short. Banks, with both hands, attempted to wrest Sweeney's pistol, and would not let go until Sweeney threatened to shoot him. The negroes called out, "Fall in! fall in!" and the crowd increased. O'Dwyer, Allen, and Engel, policemen, came up at this time and seized Short, who was making desperate resistance, and started to the station-house. As they did so, several pistol shots were fired and a number of bricks thrown at them. The police succeeded in getting Banks to the station-house. Short was rescued, and afterwards arrested by the soldiers. Policeman Franklin testified that on Saturday night he met policeman Sweeney on his beat near Twenty-sixth street. Sweeney remarked that there was a party of colored boys near by who were disposed to be quarrelsome. Witness thought he had better remain with him awhile, as a row might occur. Shortly afterwards a party of colored men passed by, and Banks and Sharp began to make a great noise. Sweeney went up and said to them politely that they must not make so much noise on the street at night. Banks said . "G-- d-- it, who is making more noise than you are?" Policeman Sweeney arrested" him ; and he said to him that he didn't intend to be insulted on the streets. Sweeney started on with him, and witness walked behind to keep the crowd quiet. The witness, when the disturbance commenced, had his club wrenched out of his hand, and was struck with it by Sharp. Just after he was struck, the crowd commenced to throw bricks and fire pistols at the police. Corporal Forrester gave the same evidence that he gave on Monday. He was among the party who went from the Libby to help quiet the disturbance. When he went up to Main street he heard among the crowd near Twentieth street: "We have made some of those d--n policemen suffer, and if the d--n soldiers interfere, we'll do them the same way." Policeman Engel corroborated the statements of the other witnesses, he was struck twice on the side of his face by Short. Henry Rose and ----- Brizzolari said that Holloway was in Brizzolari's store, and had nothing to do with the disturbance. A witness for the prosecution, however, having sworn that he recognized him as one of the men who struck policeman O'Dwyer, his Honor continued his case until to-day. Banks and Short were sent on. All three were offered bail.
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“The Twenty-First Street Examination Before the Mayor,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed September 28, 2022, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/602.