Nicholas Kleinmark

Born: 1900
Occupation: Porter
Killed: July 28th, 1919
Cause of death: Stab Wound

Nicholas Kleinmark, instead of being a victim of the riots, met his demise by participating in them. Kleinmark, a white man, was born on April 14th, 1900, in Chicago. His parents, Kodo and Sadie Kleinmark, immigrated from Holland. During the First World War, Kleinmark was drafted into the US Army, serving in 1917-18. After Kleinmark’s military service, and perhaps before, he lived with his family at 3451 N. Ashland Avenue and worked as a porter.             Kleinmark’s role in the riots is told through a long story in the Chicago-based Black newspaper, The Broad Ax. The article indicates that Kleinmark joined a large mob of whites on July 28th that stopped a streetcar heading northbound on Ashland Avenue on which Joseph Scott, Wilson Brown, and Harry Simpson, three Black men returning from their work at the Union Stock Yards, were riding. The Broad Ax article continued, “the said mob boarded the car, led by Kleinmark with a club in his hand, the said mob being prompted by race hatred.” A struggle ensued between the white mob and black men. During the encounter, Scott stabbed Kleinmark in the neck, an act for which he would later be arrested. Due to a lack of sufficient evidence, the jury ruled that “we believe this to be a case of justifiable homicide and recommend the discharge of Joseph Scott from police custody.” The jury also recommended an investigation into the police officers who arrested Scott, believing that Scott was singled-out due to his race while the white rioters on the streetcar escaped punishment. It is worth highlighting that Kleinmark did not live anywhere near the place he was killed; in other words, he had traveled across the city to join one of these marauding groups of white rioters. Kleinmark died on the streetcar from his wounds on July 28th at the age of nineteen.

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