The Robert Charles Riots occurred when whites in New Orleans became angry after Robert Charles, a black man, shot several white police officers on July 23, 1900. A manhunt was put in motion for Charles, and the riot lasted four days with 28 lives lost.
Charles was a self-educated man and activist who traveled to New Orleans from Mississippi. He believed that African-Americans should defend themselves and he encouraged them all to move to Liberia. On the night of July 23, 1900, three white police officers, three white police officers, Sergeant Jules C. Aucoin, Joseph D. Cantrelle, and August T. Mora, found Charles and his roommate, Leonard Pierce, sitting on a porch in a predominantly white neighborhood.
After some police harassment, Charles and Mora drew their guns and exchanged shots. Although neither was killed, Charles fled to his home for safety. After interrogating residents in the neighborhood, the home of Charles was located. When the police arrived at his home, Charles fired his rifle in their direction, killing two officers. Charles again fled the scene.
The next day, a crowd of white New Orleans residents gathered at the location where the policemen were killed and called for the lynching of Charles. Numerous events of lawlessness and civil unrest as mobs of whites roamed the city to terrorize the city’s African-American community occurred over the next three days. On July 25, three African-Americans were killed, 11 others were hospitalized, and over 50 were injured. Newspapers reported that blacks were to blame for the rioting.
Police working with white vigilantes surrounded a home where they believed Charles was hiding. A shootout occurred and Charles was shot and killed by Charles Noiret, a Tulane University medical student who was assisting with the manhunt. Charles shot a total of 27 whites, killing seven including four police officers.