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Riots and Demonstrations (1967)


Sound | 1967

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  •  Riots on Scott - Night Film, 08/17/67: Police officers and firefighters respond to a civil disturbance around Scott Street in southeast Houston. On August 17, gas station operator Rule Scott shot Leon Perry Jr. in the right leg after Perry allegedly attempted to rob him. While Perry was not fatally injured, rumors began to spread around the predominantly African-American neighborhood that a white man had killed a black man. Amid the high racial tension, rioters set a series of fires in the area in retaliation. Flames engulfed the gas station and a nearby grocery store.  
  •  Press conference with Houston Mayor Louie Welch and Police Chief Herman Short 
  •  Riots - Welch 2am Conference, 08/17/67: Mayor Welch describes how the community aided police in containing the incident, while Chief Short explains the origin of the initial disturbance 
  •  Riots on Scott, 08/17/67 
  •  Riots - Welch Press Conf., 08/17/67 
  •  Riot Fires - Chief Clooney, 08/17/67: A KPRC newsman speaks with District Fire Chief J. P. Clooney about the kind of fire 
  •  TSU Riots, 05/17/67: TSU students and KPRC reporters wait outside the Harris County jail to greet those released from police custody on May 17. Officers had arrested 488 students earlier that day as part of the so-called TSU Riot.  
  •  One student demands an investigation into the Houston Police Department, while another calls the officers “honkies,” a pejorative term for white people.  
  •  At a press conference, Mayor Welch expresses his support in Chief Short’s judgment and describes what he plans to do to quell any further unrest  
  •  Chief Short raises suspicions of outside agitators 
  •  TSU Demonstration, 03/28/67: Reverend Frederick Douglass Kirkpatrick leads students in a song during a campus protest as Texas Southern University. In March 1967, the University dismissed the Friends of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee as an on-campus organization and fired its faculty adviser, Mack Jones. Students launched a week of protests in response. Kirkpatrick was a graduate student and co-chairman of Friends of SNCC.  
  •  Interview with Mack Jones about his dismissal from TSU and what he plans to do next 
  •  The man on the megaphone is possibly Millard Lowe, Kirkpatrick’s Friends of SNCC co-chairman 
  •  TSU Protest, 11/08/67: An unidentified man rebuffs testimony blaming TSU students for the destruction caused during the TSU Riot. Between the gunfight and police raid, the incident resulted in some $30,000 in property damage to the Texas Southern University campus. United Press International reported that Houston police broke down some doors with fire axes and shot the locks off others to reach students barricaded inside a dormitory. Firing between 3,000 and 5,000 rounds of ammunition, officers also shot out nearly every window along the residence hall’s north side. 
  •  TSU Demonstration, 03/28/67: Silent news footage from the protest on TSU campus. In an attempt to shut down the university, students barred the doors of academic buildings with pieces of lumber to prevent others from attending class. After the barriers were removed, some 175 demonstrators moved to blockade Wheeler Avenue, a campus-bisecting thoroughfare. 
  •  Jones addresses the students protesting on his behalf 
  •  TSU Riot Scrap, 05/17/67: Chief Short oversees the police raid of Lanier Dormitory and arrest of several hundred TSU students in the early morning hours of May 17. Following an extended campus blockade on the night of May 16, Houston police officers converged on Lanier Dormitory after students allegedly began throwing debris at police cars. A squad of 60 to 70 riflemen proceeded to exchange gunfire with individuals barricaded inside the residence hall, advancing infantry-style in 20-yard increments. Officers raided the dormitory four hours later, finding one shotgun, three rifles, and two Molotov cocktails. While most students conceivably did not participate in the violence, officers arrested nearly all of the hall’s residents -- 488 in total. Many were transported to jail still wearing their pajamas. 
  •  Chief Short comments on the event’s portrayal in a commission report 
  •  Ceremony honoring the service of rookie patrolman Louis Kuba, who was fatally shot during the TSU Riot. While the press almost immediately accused an as-yet-unidentified TSU student as the likely sniper, coroner and ballistics reports ultimately determined that Kuba had been killed by a .30-caliber bullet -- the same caliber used by Houston police.   
  •  Kuba’s widow  
  •  Future US Senator Lloyd Bentsen presents an award 
  •  TSU Student Trial Riot: A civil rights attorney comments on the charges filed against the “TSU Five” in connection to the TSU Riot. Of the 488 arrested, only five students were charged: Charles Freeman, Trazawell Franklin, Douglas Waller, John Parker, and Floyd Nichols. Only Freeman went to trial. 
  •  TSU/SDF Students Trial, 07/25/67: An unidentified man, possibly TSU Dean of Students James B. Jones, warns university deans of students to think about their role in creating as well as solving problems on campus. Jones made the decision to oust Friends of SNCC, which started the campus demonstrations. With the state legislature already considering a cut to TSU’s budget, he reasoned that too much support for the activist group would jeopardize the university’s funding.  
  •  TSU Trial Hearing, 07/25/67: An attorney for Charles Freeman comments on the case against his client and the possibility of a change of venue. District Judge Wendell Odom  moved the case to Victoria on April 29, 1968, upon the request of Harris County District Attorney Carol Vance and the Houston Bar Association. Following the denial of further change of venue requests by the defense, the trial took place between October 28 and 30. On October 31, after nine hours of deliberation, the all-white jury informed the judge that they were deadlocked. Judge Kelly ultimately dropped the charges against all five defendants in June 1970 due to insufficient evidence. Judge Odom dropped the remaining charges of inciting a riot in November. 
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This unedited footage from Houston’s KPRC-TV contains a series of short news segments related to social unrest both at Texas Southern University and within the local African-American community between March and November 1967. The titles for each segment are the originals created by KPRC-TV. As with the rest of the country, the 1960s were a period of rising racial tension in Houston. This footage captures the events leading up to and following what is arguably the height of that unrest: the so-called “TSU Riot.” On the night of May 16, 1967, a standoff between students and police escalated into an hours-long shootout, resulting in the death of one rookie patrolman and the arrest of nearly 500 students. The confrontation followed months of campus protests against the university administration, also captured here. Proving that racial tensions remained exceedingly high, another civil disturbance occurred just three months after the incident at Texas Southern University.
On the night of May 16, 1967, police blockaded the Texas Southern University campus in response to a student civil rights protest. Amidst the high racial tensions, the confrontation escalated into an “Alamo-scale shootout,” according to the Houston Chronicle. Police fired an estimated 3,000 rounds into TSU’s Lanier Dormitory, where the students were blockaded. Law enforcement raided the building in the early morning hours of May 17, arresting 488 students—the largest mass arrest in Houston history. Two police officers were wounded and another, rookie Louis Kuba, was killed. A small group of students, known as the TSU Five, were indicted on charges of inciting a riot, assault, and murder. They were Charles Freeman, Trazawell Franklin, Douglas Waller, John Parker, and Floyd Nichols. Only Freeman was tried, resulting in a hung jury. A judge ultimately dismissed the case against all five defendants due to insufficient evidence, believing that Kuba most likely died from a ricocheting police bullet. 
Politician Louie Welch was born in Lockney, Texas on December 9, 1918. He received a degree in history from Abilene Christian College, now Abilene Christian University.
Welch began his political career in 1950, serving four terms on the Houston City Council. He unsuccessfully sought the Houston mayoral office three times before being elected to the position in 1963. Houston grew immensely during Welch’s five terms as mayor, from the population topping one million people to the opening of the Astrodome in 1965 and the Houston Intercontinental Airport in 1969. 
His tenure, however, was not without its controversy. A 1967 conflict between police and Texas Southern University students created a rift between the local administration and many of Houston’s African Americans. Welch’s reputation also came under fire during his last term over his relationship with well-known crime leaders, leading to suspicions about how his second mayoral bid was financed. 
In 1985, Welch ran for mayor again, campaigning in opposition to the extension of job protection rights to homosexuals employed by the city government. He lost to incumbent Kathy Whitmore. 
Welch died from lung cancer on January 27, 2008 in his Harris County residence. He was 89.