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Shreveport Called a ‘Powder Keg’ After Rioting

Associated Press

Black leaders warned Wednesday against a recurrence of violence after hundreds of angry blacks burned stores and rioted in the streets when a white teen-age girl fatally shot a black man.

“We’re sitting on a powder keg,” said state Rep. Alphonse Jackson, who called for a biracial anti-crime committee. “People want protection. I call on citizens to restore law and order.”

His plea followed a meeting of city officials and black leaders to discuss the rioting, which persisted for nearly five hours, until 3 a.m. Wednesday, and which officials said was related both to drugs and racial problems.

Stores were looted and burned, and rioters threw stones and bottles at whites. There were reports of racial slurs and chants of “Hot Biscuit,” the restaurant where a white teen-ager killed a black teen-ager on Aug. 4 in an incident that set off racial tension in this city of 250,000.

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Chief’s Car Battered

Police cordoned off a seven-block area Tuesday night and warned motorists to keep out. Police Chief Charles Gruber said his car took a brick through the windshield and gunfire through the back passenger door. A television news car was burned and a new fire department pumper was attacked with bats and bricks.

No serious injuries were reported, which was attributed in part to Gruber’s decision to let the disturbance run its course. Throughout the incident, police radios crackled with orders to maintain positions and hold fire.

At least four people were reportedly taken into custody and booked on charges ranging from inciting to riot to resisting arrest.

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The outbreak was set off by the shooting of a black man, identified as William David McKinney, 20, who lived in the Cedar Grove neighborhood, where the rioting took place. He was described by a witness as a bystander caught in gunfire when a drug deal went bad.

Teen-Ager Booked

A white teen-ager, Tamala C. Vergo, 17, of Greenwood, was booked on a charge of second-degree murder, police Cpl. E. T. Rushing said. A second woman was questioned but not charged.

Officers said people in a convenience store tried to detain the suspect until police officers arrived, and a crowd of blacks gathered outside and began throwing bricks at the business and at motorists.

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A witness, Anthony Johnson, said that, after policemen took the suspect away, the crowd doused the store with lighter fluid, set it afire and went on a rampage.


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