Police took those arrested to the two Harlem precinct houses, until they were full, around 11pm. They then sent those arrested to Police Headquarters downtown, which also lacked the cells to hold them, leading police to herd them into the photographic gallery.1 The next morning police had to deliver the men and women to the Harlem Magistrate Court or the Washington Heights Magistrates Court to begin the legal process.

At Police Headquarters, they first staged a lineup of ninety-six of those arrested, a spectacle that provided white reporters an opportunity to make fun of them and to objectify them in photographs.2 Paraded across a klieg-lit platform in groups of three to five, many displaying “battered heads and lacerated hands,” the arrested men and women faced questioning from detectives, with many admitting detectives to stealing items during the riot, but claiming to have picked goods up off the street rather than breaking windows to obtain them. Twenty-one identified themselves as on home relief, information recorded by representatives of the Department of Public Welfare in attendance.3

The press gave voice to only a handful of the arrested: Harry Gordon, one of the six white men in the line-up and part of the group of Communists who had protested in front of Kress’, drew the attention of reporters by refusing to answer questions until he had spoken to a lawyer. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reporter in particular took delight in recounting how Aubert Patterson, a black man, drew laughter when he said in explanation of his refusal to answer questions, “I don’t want to extricate myself from my guilt.” Police then bundled the men and women into wagons – another spectacle to be captured by news photographers — and drove them under motorcycle escort to Harlem’s courts.

Photographs

  1. BDE, 3/20/1935, 2
  2. No black newspapers reported this lineup.
  3. BDE, 3/20/1935, 1 (with a photograph of several prisoners and a police officer holding a long knife allegedly taken from a rioter); HT, 3/21/1935, 2; DM, 3/21/1935; NYS, 3/20/1935
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