A peaceful meeting of Negroes at Union Square yesterday, called to protest the verdict in the Scottsboro case, developed into a running fight along Broadway for miles with policemen thrown to the ground and trampled and Negroes becoming acquainted with scores of nightsticks before it was over.
George Northcroft, a Negro house painter, was arrested at Forty-sixth Street and Broadway, where the brawl reached its zenith, by Patrolman William Griffin of the West Forty-seventh street station. According to Griffin, Northcroft kicked him in the mouth.
At Union Square shortly after noon the meeting started with perhaps a thousand Negroes in attendance to listen to speakers protesting against the verdict in the trial at Decatur, Ala. When it was over many journeyed to the Pennsylvania Station to meet the 4:23 train from the South bearing Samuel S. Leibowitz, who defended Haywood Patterson, the first of the Negroes to be tried at Decatur.
There they were joined by others, until when the train pulled in there were close to 3,000 milling about the concourse.
When Mr. Leibowitz came up the stairs there was a rush and enthusiastic cheering. A team of four husky Negroes picked up the attorney and carried him on their shoulders through the cheering throng to his taxicab in the south drive.
Extra police called for the occasion persuaded the crowd to break up and leave the station, warning them not to parade without permission. Five hundred did not heed the warning and formed outside the station. They marched, singing and cheering, to Broadway and then turned north.
Traffic policemen along the route attempted to break up the procession, but they were either pushed or tosssed aside. The West Forty-seventh Street station sent out a squad to reinforce the traffic men. They made contact with the marchers, who had set Harlem as their objective, at Forty-sixth Street, and here at battle royal started. Griffin said later that when he ordered the parade stopped he was shoved aside and knocked down.
Other policemen joined but the Negroes would not give in and proceeded north, with others joining as fast as they could. A hurry call for more police brought radio cars, an emergency truck squad and all the reserves that could be mustered in the West Forty-seventh Street station. The police joined battle again with the Negroes between Fifty-second and Fifty-third Streets on Broadway. After several minutes of brisk work the parade split up and the marchers slipped away on side streets, not before, however, they pulled a mounted policeman from his horse.
As the police drew breath they were informed that they were needed at Columbus Circle for a fresh demonstration. There they found close to 1,000 Negroes, including some of the paraders. There was another melee. The Negroes apparently had learned a new strategy, and after breaking up as quickly as possible re-formed further uptown.
After a short fight at Sixty-eighth Street and Broadway, the final meeting took place at Eighty-sixth Street and Broadway.
Arraigned in Night Court, Northcroft pleaded not guilty to a charge
of third-degree assault. Magistrate Leonard A. McGee adjorned the case
until this morning in West Side Court to enable both Northcroft and police
to present witnesses.