Surprisingly, there is no official count of the number of people arrested, injured, and killed in the 1935 Harlem riot. Such information typically appears in a report on a riot, but it is not in the Report of the Mayor’s Committee on Conditions in Harlem. The records of the Mayor’s Committee does include a list of the [how many] men (and women?) arrested and processed at the 23rd Precinct station house at ??? West 123rd Street [on March 19 and 20]. [This is the list on which Cheryl Greenberg based her analysis]. However, the riot extended beyond the 23rd Precinct, into the 32nd Precinct in central Harlem. Additional arrests would have been processed in that precinct’s station house, at ??? West 135th Street.

More information on those arrested during the riot can be found in newspaper stories on the riot. Lists published in the earliest stories seem likely to have been gathered at the station houses. Later stories included lists based on who appeared in court after the riot. Again, those appearances occurred in more than one venue; some in the Washington Heights Court, others in the Harlem Court [32nd precinct went to Washington Heights; 23rd Precinct went to Harlem?]. Some of the discrepancies between the lists published by different newspapers seem to reflect which courthouse reporters attended.

[NY Post offers the most detailed account of the arrests

Three men were arrested early in the rioting and arraigned in night court [Young Liberators?], but when the proportions of the disturbance became evident no attempt was made to use the usual machinery for handling petty offenses.

Instead, the prisoners were herded in police stations hone they did not require hospital treatment, and were sent to Headquarters this morning.

All prisoners were placed together in the photograph gallery as the cell black at Headquarters only has capacity for thirty.

…Police stations and magistrates courts were clogged by the backwash from the rioting wave, with 113 men and women, mostly Negroes, under arrest. Their cases were handled with almost unprecedented speed. Few were discharged.

…A special guard of sixty-five men was stationed at Harlem Court where eighty-one of the rioters were arraigned before Magistrate Renaud. The court room was so crowded by 9:30 A. M. that the doors were closed and only persons with subpenas were admitted after that. The curbs outside were lined.

Most of the spectators, inside and out, were Negroes, who showed clearly that they were there just to see the sights. Nevertheless the police were watchful.

McDonald Acts

Chief Magistrate McDonald sat with Magistrate Renaud part of the time and Assistant District Attorney Carey, a Negro, helped handle the cases.

The relatively unimportant charges, disorderly conduct simple assault and so on, were handled at a speed of ten minutes or less to a case. Small fines with alternative jail sentences were administered, with most of the prisoners taking the jail terms.

Some defendants had arranged to have relatives bring business men in to court to testify to their good character, but it did them no good.

The more serious charges of burglary and inciting to riot also were jammed through rapidly, and most of the defendants were bound over to bail ranging up to $1,000. A few defendants also faced Sullivan law charges.

At Washington Heights Court, with Magistrate Ford on the bench, the action was similar. There, too, a heavy police detail was on guard. One man was held in $1,000 bail for stealing a can of coffee from a windowless grocery store.

Up to noon, only four of the persons arraigned in both courts had been discharged. All four of these cases were at Washington Heights.

Many of the defendants were notified by representatives of the District Attorney’s office to appear for questioning in the investigation of the rioting.

The amount of information about those arrested varies greatly: generally the charge brought against an individual or the sentence they received; sometimes their age and home address; less often their race, and the address at which the arrest occurred. In only a few cases did the report describe the circumstances that led to an arrest.

More people were caught up in the riot than those who were arrested. Records also include individuals assaulted or injured. (Some from hospital and ambulance reports in the Mayor’s Committee records; others in newspaper reports). The relationship of this group to those arrested is not clear cut. At least some of those arrested claimed to have been simply part of the crowd, rather than committing the offenses with which they were charged.  Certainly, the hostility of police, particularly officers brought in from outside the local precincts, towards Harlem’s black population makes it unlikely all officers were discriminating about who they arrested in the crowds thronging the streets. (And in clashes between residents and police, just who was the aggressor and who the victim was often in dispute) Similarly, injuries suffered from broken glass could be acquired breaking windows or looting stores, as well as being in crowds watching such activities.

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