Mob Disturbances in the United States

October 20, 1931

Report Outline
Recent Demonstrations by the Unemployed
Riots and Disturbances Due to Economic Distress
Record of Violence in Labor Disputes
Riots of the Civil War Period
Anti-Foreign, Anti-Catholic and Race Riots
Disturbances of a Political Nature

Recent Demonstrations by the Unemployed

Within recent weeks persons prominent in public life have given warnings of mob violence and attempts at revolution during the coming winter. Their statements, in most instances, have been accompanied by qualifying phrases, such as “unless relief is promptly afforded,” or “if remedies for unemployment and the business depression are not found.”

In an encyclical issued October 3, Pope Pius XI stressed the plight of the unemployed in all countries and wrote: “The want of so many families and of their children, if not provided for, threatens to push them—which may God avert—to the point of exasperation.” Maj. Gen. Smedley D. Butler, in an interview at Philadelphia on October 1, said “the threat of revolution hangs over the country unless something is done right away to provide employment, relieve poverty, and equalize wealth.” He told of “a group of multimillionaires” who have a plan, not yet made public, by which they “seek to accomplish by legislative means what mobs may seek by force in the not distant future.”

In opposition to these and other alarmist views, government officials point to the quiet and generally good order which has prevailed during the period of the depression. E. V. Oulahan, in his Washington dispatch to the New York Times on September 12, wrote:

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Organized Crime
May 14, 2004  Gang Crisis
Mar. 27, 1992  Mafia Crackdown
Oct. 11, 1991  Youth Gangs
Mar. 17, 1989  Racketeering Law Comes Under Attack
Jun. 19, 1981  Organized Crime: The American Shakedown
Mar. 11, 1970  Drive on Organized Crime
Jan. 18, 1961  Interstate Crime Syndicates
Mar. 04, 1953  Criminality in Labor Unions
Mar. 17, 1950  Suppression of Crime Syndicates
Aug. 10, 1934  The Federal Government and Organized Crime
Oct. 20, 1931  Mob Disturbances in the United States
Economic Crises