The Tragedy of Glenville

July 23, 1968

Over 50 years ago, Glenville exploded into violence. In 1968, Cleveland was awash in the tensions of the times. Although the city remained calm when others experienced riots following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr, trouble simmered. Despite the advances of the Civil Rights movement, African-Americans felt marginalized.

To the political establishment, Cleveland seemed like a laboratory for fixing many urban ills. The election of Carl B. Stokes as the first African-American mayor of a major US city and the rapid launch of his urban revitalization program, Cleveland Now!, showed a willingness to change among the local power base.

However, in the majority African American neighborhood of Glenville, the mood was not as optimistic. Fred Ahmed Evans gathered a following of young men by advocating a more militant and aggressive approach. On July 23, Evans struck, shooting a tow truck driver and the police officers who came to his aide.

Within 20 minutes of the first shots, three Cleveland Police officers were dead. Within an hour, more than a dozen were injured. Ultimately, four Cleveland Police Officers were dead, eleven officers and a tow truck driver were seriously injured and at least 2 civilians and three nationalists were killed.