File No. 319.1123L25/4.

Minister Price to the Secretary of State.

[Extract.]
No. 475.]

Sir: I have the honor to report that the investigations continue by representatives of our authorities and those of Panama into the mêlée of April 2, 1915, in Colon. Lieut. Goetz, now in charge of our military investigation since the departure of Col. Chamberlain, confesses to me discouragement over inability to obtain direct evidence from any one as to the person guilty of shooting and killing Corporal Maurice Langdon and little identifying testimony as to the policemen guilty of shooting at a number of our soldiers on that afternoon. * * *

I enclose a copy of the report made by Captain H. D. Mitchell, Chief of the Canal Zone Police, to the Governor of the Panama Canal a few days after the mêlée. * * *

The next morning after the trouble I called upon Governor Arcia of Colon before returning to Panama and expressed earnest interest in prompt and thorough action by Panama and in the presence of a representative of our Government being permitted at their examinations; he expressed himself agreeably regarding these requests. I followed this with the note to Sr. Lefevre enclosed with despatch No. 469, and I now transmit Sr. Lefevre’s response to same and its translation.

Both policemen are still in confinement.

There is no question that the Panaman authorities are more alarmed than they have ever been over the possible taking over of the policing of Panama and Colon pursuant to Article 7 of the Canal Treaty of 1903.

I have [etc.]

Wm. Jennings Price,
[Page 1197]
[Inclosure 1—Extract.]

Chief of Police Mitchell to the Governor of Panama Canal Zone.

riot at colon april 2, 1915.

Sir: I have the honor to submit the following report relative to the riot which occurred in Colon, Republic of Panama, April 2, 1915.

During the afternoon of the 2d instant, about 1,200 soldiers attended a ball game at Colon between the 5th Infantry and Cristobal teams. A special train of 17 coaches took the soldiers to Colon from their stations, and during the game was left on a spur track. During the game a number of soldiers left the ball grounds and visted the city of Colon. * * *

From the testimony given by a number of witnesses, it appears that the fight between the soldiers and police first occurred at the corner of 10th and Cash streets, about 5 p.m. It seems that the trouble arose through a quarrel between a civilian, Jamaican, and a soldier, caused by the negro trying to push his way through a dozen soldiers who were standing on the sidewalk. One of the soldiers shoved the negro aside and told him to walk around them. The latter took exception to the actions of the soldier and blows were exchanged until a policeman came along and took hold of the negro and pushed him across the street, where a number of negroes were standing. The negro returned and was again taken back by the officer, who was jeered by the crowd of negroes for his actions. In the meantime the controversy had attracted a number of soldiers, police, and natives. Testimony as to what immediately followed is conflicting and reference will be made only to that which appears to be verified by two or more witnesses.

1st.
A policeman was accidentally struck by a swagger stick in the hands of a soldier, which the former resented, and he tried to arrest the soldier.
2d.
The police tried to drive the soldiers away and the latter resisted.

The trivial affair with the negro grew complicated as the crowd increased and the police soon lost their heads and opened fire, without any provocation that would warrant such action on their part. I have been unable to find any evidence of intoxication among the soldiers such as one would naturally expect to find when looking for the causes of the riot. A number of witnesses have testified that at least four shots were fired by the police in endeavoring to compel the soldiers to leave this neighborhood. Privates Klimp and Richeson were wounded as a result of this shooting.

After this affray had subsided, in which Governor Arcia and Commandante of Colon Police Catano assisted in restoring order, trouble broke out again near the corner of 11th Street and Broadway about the time the ball game terminated, which was about 5.20 p.m.

As the soldiers were leaving the ball grounds a number of small colored boys began throwing stones at them, and when the boys were joined by a number of colored men a general fusillade ensued, during which a number of soldiers, policemen and civilians were injured and several windows of buildings were broken. Just north of Hudson Alley and on either side of 11th Street several policemen opened fire, from the vicinity of two buildings located next to the vacant lots on 11th Street. Most of their firing was evidently directed at the soldiers on, and in the vicinity of, the special train. As the train carrying the soldiers pulled out of Colon rocks and clubs were thrown at the soldiers aboard by the crowd of negroes. Private Deloughery, who was standing on the rear platform of the train, was shot in the left side.

A squad of the guard, in charge of Corporal Maurice Langdon, was moving east on 11th Street from D Street, and as Langdon was standing on the sidewalk in front of a store on the southwest corner of 11th Street and Hudson Alley he was shot, and died while being taken to the hospital. On the afternoon of the 6th instant Capt. Carpenter removed a 38 caliber bullet from a door which was located about two feet to the south from the point where Corporal Langdon had been standing. After the latter had been shot, Privates Scott and Walsh, members of the patrol, who were standing in the street opposite the place where Corporal Langdon had stood, fired one shot each with their rifles at a policeman who was firing at them from behind the building [Page 1198]located near the northeast corner of 11th Street and Hudson Alley. Private Hollan fired twice, and Private Keysanov once, at policemen who were firing from the rear of a building located on the southeast corner of 11th Street and Hudson Alley.

Two policemen are under arrest in the Colon police station pending an investigation relative to the shooting.

Three empty shells, caliber 38, were still warm when picked up by Capt. Carpenter in the rear of the building located at the southeast corner of 11th Street and Hudson Alley, immediately after the firing had ceased.

An investigation of the affray is being conducted by Colonel John L. Chamberlain, Inspector General, for the military authorities, and by Governor Arcia for the Panamans. Capt. J. M. Fulton, C. A. C., is representing the military authorities at the investigation of the Panamans, and Mr. Inocencio Galindo is representing the Panaman authorities at the military investigation.

In order to minimize any trouble that might arise between the soldiers and police in Panama City or Colon on occasions when a large number of the former are present, I would recommend that a strong military guard be detailed to patrol the city.

Respectfully,

H. D. Mitchell,
Chief, Police and Fire Division.
[Inclosure 2—Translation.]

The Secretary of Foreign Affairs to Minister Price.

S–6229.]

Mr. Minister: I have the honor to refer to the esteemed note of your excellency, No. 160 of the 5th instant, which relates to the recent sad occurrences in Colon.

As soon as I received the said note, I communicated with Sr. Ruben S. Arcia, Governor of the Province of Colon, as to what was the truth about the article in the “Panama Morning Journal” to the effect that the policeman would be set at liberty, and this functionary informed me that the notice lacked foundation.

The investigation of the unfortunate circumstances is being carried out in the most impartial and thorough manner by Governor Arcia and meantime none of those detained under arrest on suspicion for having responsibility for the death can be set free.

I take this opportunity [etc.]

E. T. Lefevre.