The assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King last night sent shockwaves through America's ghettos, touching off one of the most widespread outbreaks of racial violence this nation has ever seen.
Three persons were killed and dozens were injured. A white youth suffocated in a fire set by rioting Negroes in Tallahassee, a white man died of stab wounds in Washington, and another man died in a fire set in New York.
The entire 28,000-man police force of New York was ordered on emergency duty and the vast port of New York was closed down tight as a memorial to Dr. King by the International Longshoremen's Assn.
Raging Negroes poured into the streets in at least 20 cities and towns from Harlem to the California coast. In some areas there was fire bombing and looting. In others, Negro students clashed with police, using guns, rocks and even arrows.
National Guard troopers were called out in Nashville, Memphis, Raleigh and Greensboro, N.C. In the South, most of the violence took place around Negro colleges.
The city where King was slain appeared to have less violence than others. A state of shock seemed to daze much of the river city.
Violence broke out in Charlotte, Winston-Salem, New Bern and Wilmington, N.C.; in Itta Bena and Jackson, Miss.; in Tampa, Fla.; in Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, Ala.; Oakland, Calif.; Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. Rock throwing and some looting took place in Detroit as pupils walked out of four high schools.
Students at Florida A&M in Tallahassee, Fla., rioted and fired on police cars. Some students used bows and arrows. Police did not return the fire.
In Toledo, Ohio, today, about 2,000 Negro youths roamed over a mile-square area of the West Side, throwing rocks at windows and cars.
Two policemen were shot by snipers in Detroit a mile from the scene of last summer's riot.
In New York City, Mayor John Lindsay wandered through the streets of Harlem offering condolences to Negroes. Gangs ran wild in the big city, smashing windows and looting in Harlem and Brooklyn.
The worst outbreak was in Harlem. Negroes hurled rocks and bottles through the windshields of police and fire vehicles, smashed store windows, ripped down iron burglar grates guarding store fronts and looted almost at will.
There were several fires, reportedly set by arsonists. At least three five-story apartment buildings went up in flames.
Negroes shouted they would avenge King's death.
In Itta Bena, Miss., two Negro students at Mississippi Valley State College were shot and wounded following a brick-throwing demonstration.
In Washington, small mobs roamed the downtown area, breaking store windows, vandalizing property and looting businesses.
Even staunch militant and black power advocate Stokely Carmichael could not stop the disturbances. He went nearly unheard when he tried to talk the youths into going home.
North Carolina was the scene of widespread demonstrating.
Police and Negroes battled in the streets of Raleigh. Three officers were injured slightly. One Negro youth was shot in the arm.
In Jackson, Miss., police sealed off a section of the city to quell a brief outbreak. Riot squads rushed to the scene in an armored vehicle when the rock-throwing started.
Most of the violence halted when Negro leader Charles Evers called a mass meeting. Evers attacked King's slayers, saying he had been trying to "do something for the poor whites who murdered him, for the cause of freedom."
In Cincinnati, two high schools were closed today at the request of the students in memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, but violence broke out near racially mixed Woodward High School. About 100 Negroes surged across the street from Woodward and broke 12 windows in the Sifton Shopping Center.