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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

EUCLID BEACH PARK RIOT

EUCLID BEACH PARK RIOT

The EUCLID BEACH PARK RIOT of 23 Aug. 1946 was one of a series of protests that summer against racial discrimination at EUCLID BEACH PARK, which had a long history of discrimination against African American patrons. Discrimination suits against the park can be traced back to 1899; by ca. 1915, Euclid Beach and LUNA PARK had established policies of admitting blacks to their facilities only on certain days. Euclid Beach employed a special police force to expel any unwelcome guests, including blacks. The 1946 protests against racial discrimination at the park began on 21 July, when 20 people from American Youth for Democracy, the United Negroes and Allied Veterans of America, and the Natl. Negro Congress formed an interracial group to visit the park. A park policeman reportedly told the group that park policy permitted "no sitting, no talking, no mixing of any kind . . . between the races" and evicted them. Veterans' groups and civil-rights organizations subsequently mounted pickets at the park on several occasions. On 23 Aug., 12 black and white members of the Committee of Racial Equality (CORE) visited the park but were escorted out by park police. City Transit employee Albert T. Luster, an African American who had gone to the park to join the CORE group but never met it, was later attacked and beaten by a park policeman. The summer's protests culminated on 21 Sept., when a 6-member interracial group from CORE visited the park; as they were being evicted from the dance pavilion by park police, 2 off-duty black Cleveland policemen, Lynn Coleman and Henry MacKey, intervened on their behalf. A scuffle broke out between park police and the two city policemen, and Coleman was shot in the leg with his own revolver. The event prompted city council legislation providing for licensing of amusement parks and revocation of a license for racial discrimination. At the mayor's request, the park closed for the season a week early. When it reopened in 1947, the dance pavilion was operated by a private dance club.