After 2.30 am, in the remaining hours of darkness, only isolated incidents occurred. It appears that the crowds on the streets dissipated. As a result, what the New York Times described as “Flying squadrons of radio cars and emergency cars and motorcycle squads carrying patrolmen armed with riot guns, quickly put down these disturbances.” The final shots of the riot would not be fired until after 5am, as dawn approached. First, a group of men on a roof on 138th Street allegedly shot at police in a riot control truck. Charles Alston fell from the building fleeing police and was the final arrest of the riot. Half an hour later, back on 8th Avenue, an officer shot and killed 19 year-old James Thompson, after allegedly interrupting him looting a damaged grocery store across the street from his home.
A Mixed Character not a New Pattern
Although Harlem’s riot ended with clashes with police, it was not a break with the past. To the extent that they could, Harlem’s residents attacked whites. A spatial perspective highlights that the forms of racial violence that appeared in Harlem resulted at least as much from the targets available to blacks as a change in their motives or the nature of racial antagonism. There were fewer whites to attack in the new, larger black neighborhood, and few whites responded to racial violence by venturing into that area (and were less motivated to do so when provocations did not involve clashes between black and white populations, but between blacks and police and storeowners). Nonetheless, the riot had a mixed character at odds with interpretations that cast it as setting a singular new pattern.