The Riot of May 11-12, 1970

The Riot of May 11-12, 1970

Year Erected: 2020

Image courtesy of John Ussery

Marker Text: On May 11, 1970, Augusta became the site of Georgia’s largest uprising during the Civil Rights era. Hundreds of black citizens gathered at the Municipal Building to demand an investigation into the beating death of Charles Oatman, a 16-year old African American, in the county jail. When white officials resisted, long-simmering grievances about racial injustice boiled over. Some protesters targeted Chinese-American and white-owned property for destruction. As the riot escalated police fired shotguns, killing six and wounding dozens. The Georgia National Guard occupied Paine College and black neighborhoods. Local trials convicted nearly 100 protestors. Despite an FBI investigation and federal trials of two white police officers, no official was convicted. “Kent-Augusta-Jackson-S.E. Asia” later became a national rallying cry, and the protests galvanized activism and accelerated desegregation in Augusta.

Erected by the Georgia Historical Society, The Lucy Craft Laney Museum of Black History, and The Augusta Riot 50th Observance Committee

Tips for Finding This Marker: This marker is located at the entrance to the Augusta-Richmond County Municipal Building.