Ragen's Colts and the Race Riots
From John Landesco's Organized Crime in Chicago, 1929. University of Chicago Press. Chicago. Page 171. This selection reports the Ragen Colt's defence against the findings of the Race Commissions

 

5. The Same: The Race Riots


While the memorable coroner’s jury was investigating the casualties of the race riots there was evidence that many or perhaps most of the whites doing the rioting were members of political clubs. The Ragens emphatically denied this, as Mr. Frank Ragen does today. Several negroes testified that on the night the riot started a crowd of Halstead Street youths became involved in an argument with a colored man. According to the testimony the youth sadi:

"Remember it's the Ragen Colts your're dealing with. We have two thousand members between Halstead and Cottage Grove, and Forty-third and Sixty-third streets. We intend to run this district. Look out."

Patriotism for the United States is a potent sentimeant among the Ragens. Five hundred Ragen members went in to the United States armed forces during the war. Jimmie O'Brien, president of the club, said that while the riots were going on the organization had thousands at their quarters listening to a musical program. The organization was thinned out by enlistments in the army and the vacancies were filled up with a lot of young men who "raised Cain and worse," said Mr. O'Bren, who very likely had tried to attract the members away from engaging in the riots. Militia men in charge of the district of the race riots were harassed by hoodlums in the neighborhood, who hooted them and threatened to take away their guns and invade the negro district. It was difficult to prove that any of these hoodlums arrested were memers of the Ragen Colts, and the police released them.

 

Ragen's Colts.
A description from Race Riot: Chicago in the Red Summer of 1919 by Willam M. Tuttle Jr. 1970/1996 Urbana. Illini Press
Pages 54-55

Events on July 30th, 1919 :

"At 51st Street and Shields Avenue, for example, three blocks west of Wentworth, ther ehad been for years a black enclave of nine families, but that night the Ragen Colts tried to burn it to th ground. Throughout the afternoon, reported Harriett White, one of the black residents, there had been rumors of a mob that intended to "run all the niggers out of this section tonight." Repeated telephone calls to the police had brought only a brief visit by about ten mounted policemen at

6:30. Two hours later the Colts arrived, 200 strong, and they "started throwing rocks, bricks, and other missiles and shooting into...houses..." Then they began storming through the front doors, smashing furniture and throwing it through windows, and putting the torch to everything. "Bricks, stones, and shots enteredmy home, forcing me to leave," recalled Mrs.White. Having done their work, the Colts left a warning: "if you jopen your mouth against 'Ragen's' we will nt only burn your house down, we will 'do' you."