Sunday, November 2, 2008

Fort Lawton Riot, 1944

Cover of the Book: Fort Lawton Riot, 1944

The book Fort Lawton Riot, 1944 by Dominic W. Moreo is about the bloody riot on the night of August 14th, 1944. I downloaded it to get more of a feel for what happened that night when an Italian man, Guglielmo Olivotto, lost his life. Olivotto is pictured on the front cover of the book. He was from the town of Nervesa della Battagli in the Veneto region of Italy. 

What happened the night of the riot? In short: booze, tension (from all sides, between whites and blacks, Americans and Italians), and inept leadership that at several points during the night could have limited the damage. It seems that the Army was very anxious to reach some kind of quick resolution and find culprits to appear to be complying with the Geneva Convention of 1929. However, in the rush, all sorts of evidence were destroyed. Olivotto was fearful of black soldiers because of the atrocities he had witnessed in POW holding camps in Tunisia. During the night of the riot, Olivotto leapt out of his barrack's window right into the waiting hands of several angry, black soldiers who, it appears from the evidence, drug him to his death. He was discovered the morning after the riot strung up on a wire. His gravestone. Previous post: Italians in Discovery Park.

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