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The 24th: What’s The Story Behind the Houston Riots

The 24th is an American historical drama film co-written and directed by Kevin Willmott. The film stars Trai Byers, Bashir Salahuddin, Aja Naomi King, Mo McRae, Tosin Morohunfola, Mykelti Williamson, and Thomas Haden Church. It is based on a true story of the Houston riots that took place in late 1917. But what caused the Houston riots or the aggression among fellow soldiers? The movie is set in the Jim-Crow Era, Texas, and racial segregation has always been a shameful past of the USA, and the Houston riots were one such product of that. Let’s take a look at the history of the Houston riots and what the movie is trying to communicate.

 

The 24th: The Houston Riots

The Houston riots, also known as the camp Logan mutiny, was a mutiny and riot by 156 soldiers of the 3rd battalion, the all-black Twenty-fourth United States Infantry Regiment. This took place during the first World War, and in Texas at that time, the Jim-Crowe laws were being held. As we can see in the movie trailer, they have portrayed the situation like it was. The black battalion that came down from Columbia Mexico to protect the Camp Logan was not used to this kind of segregation, but the Texas city was not going to back down either.

The beginning of everything started with two police officers unlawfully arrested and beat a Corporal just because he tried to inquire of another arrest he thought was unlawful. The news of the arrest sparked speculations in the camp, and people (The 24th Battalion) started to assume he was killed. The battalion became more and more restless as time passed, and eventually, they decided to March on Houston and attacked that police station. But the return of the corporal seemed to have calmed them down 

As seen in the trailer, we see the same unrest in the soldiers due to such activities that lead to the next outcome that stained the name of the USA army. After the return of the corporal, a Major gathered them to convey the message that riots and mutiny will hold no good result. Amidst all of this as far as historical records say, an individual soldier fired a gun, and rest started to loot the camp for ammunition and firearms.

The March and The Killing

In the second half of the trailer, we see the soldiers shooting and marching down the street towards the police station and town. The black people were sparred, and they shot at white people. All that rage and aggression were thrown out to the city of Texas. I mean, you can see in the trailer. The 24th battalion was even hurt by the stuff they saw with other local black people. The two police officer that did the unlawful thing were killed immediately not just that the battalion killed almost two more.

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The 24th Battalion
Courtesy: youtube

The killing of an Illinois National Guard member by mistake created a buzz in the united states army, and that is when the army took charge of things. Many members of the 24th battalion surrendered and gave up charge of their weapons. The man who originated the march killed himself or was killed.

Aftermath of the Riots:

The finals section of the trailer showed the trial of the soldiers that were involved in the shooting. Houston was placed under martial law immediately after the Riots. The members of the 24th battalion that did not took part in the riots were sent back to their original posting at Mexico while the rest were taken under arrest. Many of the soldiers were hiding in the town when the army came down. There were search parties searching for them, and maybe half of the shooting we see in the trailer is in that way. 

In the ensuing court-martial, almost two hundred witnesses testified over twenty-two days, and the transcripts of the testimony covered more than two thousand pages. Author Robert V. Haynes suggests that the army’s Southern Department commanding general, General John Wilson Ruckman, was “especially anxious for the courts-martial to begin.”

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The trail of the battalion
Courtesy: Youtube

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After the incredibly tense trial, 13 men were condemned to death that were actually hanged. The others were condemned but later on granted life prison. On August 31, 1918, President Wilson granted clemency to ten soldiers by commuting their death sentences to life in prison. Wilson issued a rare public statement in order that the basis of his action might be “a matter of record.”

The 24th movie expectation:

We hope to see both law and emotional expects of the story in the movie. It is an essential piece of history of the USA. The trailer seems very nice and shows that Jim-Crowesque country and the rage among the black people. It should make us wonder how men are forced to commit such violent crimes, and why is there even racial segregation, why do people divide? It is very relevant to what has been happening for the last two months with police brutality and racist action. I hope this movie turns out good.

 

 

 

 

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Ayush Joshi
Ayush is a cinema admirer and apart from that loves all kinds of different stories. He is currently pursuing Engineering and would love to someday show the world his stories.

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