Tag Archives: Cleveland

The Story of Ahmed Evans and the Glenville Shootout

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Part 2 in our blog series on histories of resistance to racist police violence, as depicted in the pages of The Movement newspaper.

Fred "Ahmed" Evans

Fred “Ahmed” Evans

By the summer of 1968, tensions had been mounting between the Black residents of Cleveland and the police department for over a year. In the spring of 1967, riots broke out after the police shooting of two children, one Black and one white. That fall, a young Black lawyer named Carl B. Stokes rode a wove of Black disaffection into political office when he won the city’s mayoral race. Many Black residents had high hopes for a Black-led Democratic administration to usher in an era of meaningful change, but by 1968 some were becoming disillusioned as they witnessed police harassment of Black militants intensifying.

In the late 1960’s Cleveland had a vibrant Black nationalist scene, which centered around Fred “Ahmed” Evans’ Afro Culture Shop and Bookstore in the Glenville neighborhood. Evans had opened the shop after returning home from serving in the Korean War, and had dedicated himself to creating a meeting place for Black residents interested in Black nationalist culture and politics. Evans’ shop was burned down multiple times, and undercover police were permanently stationed across the street in order to monitor the activities of Evans and others who frequented the shop.

On July 23, Evans was in bed when he realized the cops were outside his house. He looked out the window to see what looked like officers shooting down a Black man who was running away from them. Evans took his gun into the bushes outside his home and began shooting. A fifteen-minute gun battle ensued, leaving 15 wounded and 7 dead. Police officers and Black militants on the scene offered conflicting accounts of the event, with Evans insisting they had been ambushed and police claiming they had been attacked by snipers from Evans’ home. After a stand off, Evans surrendered to the police.

National Guard on patrol in Glenville.

The next day, Cleveland broke out into rebellion. The Black residents of Glenville protested in the streets for three consecutive days. On the night of July 23, fires burned on ten blocks of Superior Avenue. Mayor Stokes called in the National Guard in order to quash the rebellion. On September 22, Evans was sentenced to death by electric chair for allegedly killing three officers. His sentence was later commuted to life in prison. He died of cancer in prison in 1978.

He remained unrepentant after his sentencing, stating: “I don’t think there is any doubt that the people of my race have every right in the world and have every reason in the world to resist and to reach out and become what they were created, men–not symbols, I mean–not half anything, but whole as I am whole. I fully understand the ways of life as they are now, and the truth of the matter is I have no regret….This is to be expected. I mean, you just can’t say that you are going to turn away from a world of iniquity and walk along a red carpet. It is not that way.”

Check out the full story here

-Laura

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