KILLEEN, TEXAS—More than 160 black soldiers from Fort Hood refused to take part in riot control operations in Chicago.
The rebellion—the largest in recent U.S. military history—began the night of August 23 at the Texas base. Approximately 100 black GIs from the 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry Brigade, First Armored Division, staged a sit-down demonstration to protest their orders to fly to Chicago the next day.
The Division Commander, Major General Bowles, ordered them to disperse. He was met with cries of “Fuck you!” from the men. The Provost Marshall was similarly received when he issued a direct order for them to board a plane to Chicago.
By 6 a.m. the next morning some 60 troops were still demonstrating non-violently near their barracks on Battalion Avenue. They were taken by military police to the Post Stockade.
A command decision was then made to segregate the insurgents from the other prisoners, and they were marched to an annex of the stockade. On this march they were clubbed by stockade guards wearing gas masks. They fought back.
A rumor swept the post that black troops would be given the option of refusing duty in Chicago. Some 60 soldiers marched to the stockade annex last night to protest the treatment of their buddies.
A few white GIs had known about the plan for weeks in advance. Many others who came to Chicago were in contact with civilians who were participating in the demonstrations. The dissident soldiers have a code sign by which they acknowledge their feelings to one another and to their Movement friends.