Riots erupt in Seattle's Central Area after Franklin High protestors are sentenced on July 1, 1968.

  • By David Wilma
  • Posted 6/14/2000
  • Essay 1515

On July 1, 1968, Judge James Dore sentences Aaron Dixon, Larry Gossett, and Carl Miller to six months in jail for unlawful assembly during a March 29 sit-in at Franklin High School, triggering riots in Seattle's Central Area. Several hundred young African Americans gather at Garfield High School for a protest rally, which degenerates into rock throwing. Seattle Police give an order to disperse and arrest six persons during five hours of unrest.

Motorists passing through the area on 23rd Avenue were attacked with rocks and bricks. Two reporters were mobbed and injured when they arrived on the scene in a taxicab. Other members of the community attempted to stop the trouble. "There were a large number of people from organizations [in the Central Area] and some just plain good citizens out in the streets doing their best to restore order," stated Police Chief Frank Ramon (d. 1986). Members of the Black Panther Party were prominent in their efforts to quiet the disturbance.

The following evening, more trouble erupted. The new police helicopter illuminated trouble spots and officers on the ground used tear gas. Rioters robbed two motorists and overturned their auto. Other motorists passing through the area were attacked with thrown objects. Fifteen persons were injured and treated at Providence Hospital.

After the second night of trouble, representatives of the Central Area Civil Rights Commission, the Black Panther Party, the Congress of Racial Equality, Model Cities, and the Central Area Motivation Program joined to urge parents to keep their children indoors.


Racial Disturbance Under Control in Garfield High Area," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, July 2, 1968, p. 1, 3; "Central Folks Praised For Aid in Disorder," Ibid., July 3, 1968, p. 1; Walt Crowley, Rites of Passage: A Memoir of the Sixties in Seattle (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1995), 257.

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