Ossian Sweet Versus The Angry White Mob

Ossian Sweet Vs The Angry White Mob
In 1925, an African-American physician named Ossian Sweet purchased a home in an affluent white neighborhood in Detroit. On September 8, Ossian moved into his new house with his wife and infant daughter, but was unnerved by the crowds of angry-looking people who gathered around to watch him. Detroit already had several recorded incidents of black residents being driven from their homes after moving into all-white neighborhoods, so Ossian had police officers stationed around his house the following evening. He also invited his two brothers, Henry and Otis, and seven other acquaintances to his home to serve as extra protection. However, a large mob of nearly 1,000 people showed up and began making racist threats. Once the crowd started throwing rocks at the house and rushing towards it, shots were fired from the upstairs window. The bullets ended up killing a man named Leon Breiner and wounding another man in the leg.

Ossian Sweet, his wife, his two brothers, and their seven friends were all arrested and charged with murder. The case soon drew the attention of the NAACP and renowned attorney Clarence Darrow was brought in to join the defense team. The trial took place in front of an all-white jury, but Darrow argued that all of the defendants were in legitimate danger that night and that Ossian was simply exercising the right to defend his home. In the end, the jury deadlocked on every single one of the verdicts and a mistrial was declared. The prosecution then elected to try each of the defendants separately, but after their first trial against Henry Sweet ended in acquittal, they ultimately decided to drop all charges against Ossian Sweet and the remaining defendants.

This is only a brief explanation of the case. There are much more detailed information in the links. It is a very interesting read. This is considered to be one of Clarence Darrow's greatest cases.