List of Riots and Civil Unrest in Omaha, Nebraska - 20th Century - The Great Depression

The Great Depression

The Great Depression forced millions of people out of work through the 1930s and caused upheaval across the U.S. The struggle for control over work was a struggle for life, and most Americans were affected.

Riots and civil unrest in Omaha during the Great Depression chronological order
Date Issue Event
August 1932 Economic depression Seeking to increase prices paid for farm produce farmers blockaded roads into Omaha. For three nights picketers clashed with police, including one incident where 1,000 bystanders watched as forty deputies were pelted with logs and rocks as they led farm trucks through a picket line blocking Dodge Street.
1933 Economic depression Farmers tried to drive home the impact of the Great Depression on their operations in the Milk Strike of 1933. Bands of farmers roaming the streets of the city overturned milk delivery trucks in the streets as they found them. The strike is noted as having failed.
April 1935 Labor dispute A fragile truce between pro-open shop management of Wattles' Omaha Traction Company, that ran the streetcars, and pro-union labor forces broke, causing a long, violent strike. The company hired strikebreakers from Brooklyn. Within days the company rolled out heavily fortified streetcars, complete with windows covered by heavy wire and armed guards on board. While few cars attracted passengers, the cars initially encountered little resistance. The company resisted calls for arbitration from the Omaha City Council and continued employing strikebreakers. In early May violence broke out, with workers' attacking the streetcars and strikebreakers by rifle attacks, violent beatings and bombings across the city. In June riots broke out with mobs' burning streetcars and looting. There were two deaths. The city government lost control of the violence and called in the National Guard, which sent 1,800 troops. Governor Robert Cochran declared martial law and ordered the streetcars to stop running. After the governor intervened and owner Wattles agreed to arbitration, a number of agreements were made with workers' representatives. But no substantive changes were made and strikebreakers stayed on the job. The violence ended, court cases ensued, and the situation slowly faded away. The Omaha Traction Company never unionized.
June 14, 1935 Labor dispute Three days of more streetcar strike rioting leads to a man being killed and more than ninety persons, including women and children, were wounded. Governor Robert Leroy Cochran ordered arbitration later in the week; however, new riots were reported by the end of the month. 1,800 National Guardsmen were called in to quell the violence, and martial law was declared. Ultimately two people were killed and 100 were injured.
February 23, 1942 Athletic funding Students at Omaha University formed picket lines to protest the reduction in funds for athletic programs at the college. Their actions forced the closure of OU for several days and disrupted traffic along Dodge Street, the primary thoroughfare in the city.

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Famous quotes containing the word depression:

    Geez, if I could get through to you, kiddo, that depression is not sobbing and crying and giving vent, it is plain and simple reduction of feeling. Reduction, see? Of all feeling. People who keep stiff upper lips find that it’s damn hard to smile.
    Judith Guest (b. 1936)