Fight for Rights: The Chicago 1919 Riots and the Struggle for Black Justice

Grand Jury Strike

On Wednesday, August 6, as the National Guard still patrolled Chicago, the grand jury hearing riot cases went on strike. In the middle of a presentation, one of the jurors interrupted Assistant State's Attorney Robert Rollo, demanding to know if there were any cases on the docket that did not involve Black suspects.

Rollo assured that juror that cases against whites would be presented in due course but admitted that the only cases he had prepared for the day were against Black people. Another assistant state's attorney, William Duval, told the jurors that in the thirty cases that were being prepared for them, there were some cases against whites.

After a brief caucus, the grand jury decided to refuse to hear any more cases and adjourned until Thursday. It also informed Rollo and Duval that, when it returned, it expected them to present cases against whites, as well as Blacks.

That afternoon, Maclay Hoyne denounced the grand jurors for exceeding their authority. “The state's attorney,” he said, “is doing his duty and expects the grand jury to do its duty and he needs no suggestions from any one as to how he should do his duty.”

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