East St. Louis Riots of 1917

The Great Migration saw great numbers of Southern African Americans who traveled north to find jobs and opportunities. One of the places that became a stopping point was the industrial city of East St. Louis. In Illinois across the Mississippi river from St. Louis, East St. Louis was booming due to increased production for World War I. The Aluminum Ore Company and American Steel Company were prominent among those hiring. However, tensions were running high as up to 2,000 people a week were arriving from the South. The rate was so high that Marcus Garvey actively tried to discourage migration to East St. Louis, but still people came.

In February 1917, the workers of the Aluminum Ore Company went on strike. Those on the picket lines were replaced by African American workers. This was not an uncommon practice, as strikes were commonly broken up by hiring African American workers. The National Stockyards had crushed a 4,000 strong union strike using this strategy the year before in July 1916. This pitted white workers against African American ones for the scraps the powerful corporations were willing to throw them. Migration became a foremost concern of the whites of East St. Louis.

Tensions simmered until the first outbreak of violence on May 28, 1917. A city council meeting was called and angry white workers lodged formal complaints against the migration with the mayor. This descended into the regular complaints of atrocities committed against white women. This was a common tactic for lynch mobs as found by studies by Ida B. Wells-Barnett. (For more on her, please see this post:http://www.historynaked.com/ida-b-wells-barnett/ ) The mayor called for the end of “hotheadedness”, but everyone pretty much ignored him. Rumors circulated that after the meeting an armed African American man robbed a white man. The tempers were stoked to a fever pitch by lawyer Alexander Flannigen, who made a speech demonizing the African American residents of East St. Louis. His speech ended with him saying,

“As far as I know, there is no law against mob violence.”

He seems nice. Anyway, that was all it took. Armed bands of white men were mobilized and people were handing out mob justice to any African American they could find. Streetcars and trolleys were stopped and passengers pulled off and beaten while the police watched. The Illinois governor called in the National Guard, but it was only a prelude.

On July 2, 1917, a car full of armed white men rolled into the black section of East St. Louis. The tense situation had become a powder keg. An African American man had been attacked near the Municipal Bridge the day before and rumors were running wild the whites of St. Louis planned to celebrate the 4th by killing and burning the black section of East St. Louis. Into that heightened atmosphere of anger and fear, came this black Model T firing gunshots into random homes on Trendley Street. The police were called and two detectives were sent to investigate. The big problem? They drove down to the scene of the crime in a black Model T.

The officers got to the intersection of 10th and Bond, and found 150 people ready to defend their homes and families. Eyewitnesses say they had “everything except a cannon on wheels.” The men exchanged words with the detectives, who were assumed to be the shooters not investigating officers. As the exchange got more tense, the chauffeur driving the Model T hit the gas to get out of there and the car backfired. All hell broke loose. The crowd opened fire and the car escaped in a hail of bullets, but both police detectives were killed in the process.

The banner of the killed officers were taken up like a battle flag, and there were open calls for anyone to take down the dangerous mob and “wipe out” the “Negro problem”. G.E. Popkess, a reporter for the St. Louis Times, reported hearing a prominent attorney promising a free defense for any man who would “avenge the murders of the two policemen”. The mayor of East St. Louis called for the National Guard, but as the city descended into madness sat with the Colonel in charge in a room and refused to give orders. People were killed in front of the National Guardsmen and they shrugged their shoulders and commented they had “no orders”. Soon buildings were on fire and people were being pulled off streetcars and killed. People escaping the burning buildings were met with gunfire, so that they stayed in their homes and burned to death. The bell at the Truelight Baptist Church began ringing in warning.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Carlos Hurd describes pandemonium in his 3.000 word account of the riots which appeared in the paper on July 3, 1917. He said,

“For an hour and a half last evening I saw the massacre of helpless negroes at Broadway and Fourth Street, in downtown East St. Louis, where black skin was a death warrant.”

Hurd’s account left the dispassionate journalistic style of the time behind, and he was frank about the indifference he saw from those who were sworn to protect the innocent and outraged at their criminal behavior. He ended his article with the words,

“In recording this, I do not forget that a policeman — by all accounts a fine and capable policeman — was, killed by negroes the night before. I have not forgotten it in writing about the acts of the men in the street. Whether this crime excuses or palliates a massacre, which probably included none of the offenders, is something I will leave to apologists for last evening’s occurrences, if there are any such, to explain.”

Another description comes from young Freda McDonald, who is better known as the international sensation Josephine Baker, who witnessed the riots from her home in downtown St. Louis. She describes hearing a hum like a coming thunderstorm. Then looking out the door and seeing the end of the world.

“This was the Apocalypse. Clouds, glowing from the incandescent light of huge flames leaping up from the riverbank, raced across the sky . . . but not as quickly as the breathless figures that dashed in all directions. The entire black community appeared to be fleeing.”

It is estimated that 7,000 people escaped over the bridges that night for as long as they were allowed to. Young Samuel Kennedy’s family wasn’t that lucky. When their home was set ablaze, his mother, Katherine Horne Kennedy, hid her family in the tall weeds for hours until it was safe to come out. By that time the bridges were blocked, so the resourceful woman built a raft and sailed her family across the river. Tragically, she caught pneumonia on the river and died a week later. In a happy note, Samuel survived and became an alderman in St. Louis’ 18th Ward. A position his son, Terry, went on to fill as well.

Enough was finally enough, and late in the night of July 2, the National Guardsmen finally acted. 200 rioters attempting lynch an African American man were rounded up and put in the basement of city hall. According to St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter, Paul Anderson, that seemed to “break the back of the riot” and people began to disperse. Too bad they hadn’t bothered to act twelve hours before as countless lives and property would have been saved. People cautiously came out to survey the damage and hoped it was the end of the violence. In the end, six block of town were burned, which included 300 homes as well as the Public Library and Opera House. Very few African American people were left in East St. Louis. They had fled or were lying dead in the street. The death toll was reported by the Congressional Investigating Committee later that at least 8 whites and 39 blacks died. Later reports mark the death toll as anywhere from 40 to 150. Other estimates place the death toll as high as 250. No one really knows.

NAACP parade protesting the East Saint Louis Race Riot of 1917, New York City. Photo Credit- Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Traveling from Chicago on behalf of the Negro Fellowship League was Ida B. Wells-Barnett (Again, her post is here, and it is worth a read. She is a badass. http://www.historynaked.com/ida-b-wells-barnett/ ) She interviewed the remaining African Americans left in East St. Louis and found a community in shock. After being amongst the refugees, she described it as being surrounded by

“people who had suddenly been robbed of everything except what they stood in . . . dazed over the thing that had come to them and unable to tell what it was all about.”

Later interviews of both white and African American witness depicted a community unrepentant for the level of violence. Sadly, although the East St. Louis riots were one of the bloodiest, it was merely a trend of violence that was being shown nationwide.

The NAACP tried to elicit a response from President Wilson, who had made promises regarding anti-lynching legislation. They organizing what was called the Silent Parade in New York City. On July 28, 1916, 10,000 African American protesters marched down Fifth Avenue. The women and children were dressed in white and the men dressed in all black. It was the first protest of its kind. President Wilson was as silent as the parade. However, the House of Representatives did break with Wilson and begin an investigation into the riots. That investigation found that there was gross incompetence in the East St. Louis police force, which led to the indictment of several police officers. They also stated

“no terms of condemnation applied to the men who were responsible for these appalling conditions . . . can be too severe.”


Dorothy Lawrence-  The Woman in the Trenches

Lawrence in 1915 in her soldier’s disguise. Photo Credit- By Unknown – http://www.thisishertfordshire.co.uk/nostalgia/nostalgia

History is full of women who disguised themselves and fought along their menfolk for causes they believed in.  A prime example are the women who inspired the legend of Molly Pitcher during the American Revolution.  (For more on this, please see this post:  http://www.historynaked.com/searching-molly-pitcher/ )  According to historian, Elizabeth Shipton, many women made it to the front line as nurses in the trenches or helping those wounded in No Man’s Land.  Some women took up arms and called “she soldiers”, but they had to operate in secret.  Dorothy Lawrence was one of these.  She disguised herself as a man and fought in the trenches along with the men.  

Dorothy was born in Hendon, North London around the late 1880s.  Some sources put her birth as late as 1895.  Not much is known her parents except that she was probably born to an unwed mother.  Her mother died when Dorothy was around 13 or 14, and she was taken in by a guardian of the Church of England.  In her autobiography, Sapper Dorothy, she describes him as very respected, and said if he would not approve her later shenanigans.   She mused,

‘if my highly respectable guardian, living in that dear old Cathedral city, could see me now, they would have forty fits.’  

Dorothy later accused this guardian of sexual abuse, but these allegations were not investigated or taken seriously.

As a young woman, she was attempting to make a living as a journalist in London.  A few of her articles were published by The Times, but she had had no real success.  When World War I broke out in 1914, she was living in Paris and was determined to cover the war from the trenches.  She was laughed out of the office.  She tried to join the Voluntary Aid Detachment, but was rejected. In desperation she tried to walk to the war zone and was arrested by French Police in Senlis.  Dorothy decided to change her tactics.  Befriending two soldiers on leave, whom she referred to as her “khaki accomplices”, she convinced them to smuggle her a uniform by stealing pieces from the army laundry.  Dorothy tried on her ill-gotten gains, and found her figure gave her away as a woman.  She used a homemade corset to flatten her chest and cotton wool padding to broaden her shoulders.  Her two soldier friends cut her hair very short and darkened her skin with Condy’s fluid, usually used as furniture cleaner..  They even had her shave to get a razor burn on her cheeks.  Then they taught her to drill and march with the best of them.  Complete with fake identity papers, Private Denis Smith of the First Battalion, Leicestershire Regiment was ready to report for duty.

Dorothy Lawrence Photo Credit-

Dorothy cycled to the Somme as her ill fitting uniform got caught in the bike and her fake tan rolled down her face with the rivulets of sweat.  On the way she met sapper Tom Dunn.  A sapper, also called a pioneer or combat engineer, is responsible for breaching, demolitions, bridge-building and the laying and clearing of minefields.  Field defences, road and airfield construction and repair also fell within their purview.  As a former coal miner, Dunn was being used as a tunnel expert.  He became one of her “khaki accomplices” after she admitted who she was and asked for his help.  Dunn helped set her up with a hiding place, an abandoned cottage she called her “private barracks”.  Dunn shared his rations with Dorothy and Dorothy worked alongside him as a sapper with the 179 Company troop.  They laid mines under fire and shrapnel in No Man’s Land and under the German trenches.  Most days she was only 400 yards away from the German lines.

However, after two weeks the high stress, constant fire and poor food and water took their toll  Dorothy became ill and started having fainting fits.  Afraid her illness would inadvertently reveal her identity and get her friends in trouble, she turned herself into the commanding sergeant and told him the whole story.  She was sent to Third Army headquarters in Calais and was closely questioned by three generals.  At first she was treated as a prisoner of war, as high command was shocked a woman could infiltrate that far into the lines.  They were initially afraid she was a German spy.  From Calais she was taken to Saint-Omer, and went before a judge.  He was afraid her story could possibly reveal sensitive information or inspire other women to sneak over and become soldiers.  He had her confined to Convent de Bon Pasteur in France until after the Battle of Loos, and was made to swear she would not write about her experiences, which had to be a blow as that was the entire purpose of why she did this.

On the way back to London, fate took a hand.  Dorothy traveled on the same ferry as noted suffragette, Emmeline Pankhurst.  Pankhurst took an interest in Dorothy’s story and at her behest, Dorothy spoke at a suffragette meeting.  Dorothy tried to write articles on her experiences, but the War Office invoked the 1914 Defence of the Realm Act to scrap the project.  Eventually she wrote a book in 1919 called Sapper Dorothy Lawrence:  The Only English Woman Soldier.  Even though the war was over, the book was still heavily censored by the War Office.  It was not a commercial success.

Eventually, Dorothy’s mental health deteriorated and she was committed to London County Mental Hospital at Hanwell.  Later she was permanently institutionalized at Colney Hatch Lunatic asylum in Friern Barnet, where she died in 1964.  She is buried in a pauper’s grave in new Southgate Cemetery.   A sad end for such a brave woman.


Edith Wilson and the Secret Presidency

Wilson’s first posed photograph after his stroke in June 1920. Photo Credit- By Harris & Ewing – Library of Congress

Woodrow Wilson was tired.   He had been negotiating the Treaty of Versailles, planning for the League of Nations, campaigning for the US inclusion into said League of Nations and planned a speaking tour of the United States in support of this effort.  He had suffered from a terrible bout with influenza in April 1919, and had not allowed himself the opportunity to rest.  By September of the same year, Wilson was noticeably thinner and paler and his asthma was growing worse.  He also complained of terrible headaches.  Instead of taking the rest that he obviously needed, Wilson pushed on.

On the evening of September 25, 1919, Wilson collapsed after speaking in Pueblo, Colorado.  His wife, Edith, found him in his room with the muscles in his face twitching and complaining of severe nausea.  They canceled the speaking tour and rushed Wilson back to Washington where he had a massive stroke a week later.  Wilson collapsed on the way to the bathroom and Edith had to drag him back to bed.  Then she called the chief usher to get Wilson’s doctor, Dr. Cary T. Grayson, who pronounced the president paralyzed.  According to Dr. Grayson’s notes found much later, the president was paralyzed on his left side and blind in his right eye.  On top of that, his emotional state was volatile at best.  On top of this, Wilson suffered a urinary tract infection, which was life threatening.  What should have happened is Wilson should have resigned and his Vice President, Thomas R. Marshall, should have taken over under the Constitution’s Article II, Section 1, Clause 6.  However, that did not happen.

Edith did not trust the president’s staff since their ham handed attempt to keep the president from marrying her.  Wilson had been widowed barely a year prior to meeting Edith, and wanted to marry her three months after being introduced.  During their courtship, Wilson asked for Edith’s evaluation on the loyalty of Cabinet members and her opinions on classified information, much to his advisers chagrin.  To stop this whirlwind romance from turning into a marriage, they leaked a series of fake love letters from Wilson to a lady named Mary Peck.  They hoped Edith would become angry and dump the president.  No dice.  She married him, and she was there to stay working alongside the president and attending meetings with him.  She was not about to step aside now.

Claiming that resigning would “depress” her husband, she and Dr. Grayson perpetrated a hoax they called “stewardship”.  Dr. Cary sent out carefully crafted medical bulletins that told everyone Wilson was recovering and fine.  In the meantime, he would be working exclusively from his bedroom suite.  Any papers or decisions must go through Edith, who would “take them to the president” then reemerge with his “decision”.  So, the most powerful men in this country sat in the West Sitting Room hallway waiting for Edith to pronounce the president’s word on all important matters.  She later described her actions by saying, ““So began my stewardship. I studied every paper, sent from the different Secretaries or senators, and tried to digest and present in tabloid form the things that, despite my vigilance, had to go to the President. I myself never made a single decision regarding the disposition of public affairs.  The only decision that was mine was what was important and what was not, and the very important decision of when to present matters to my husband.”  

Edith’s determination of what was “important” was sketchy at best.  Without Wilson to make appearances in the Senate, his plan to win over the Senate to the League of Nations was scuppered.  The British Ambassador came over to help Wilson negotiate for his version of the League of Nations, but Edith offended him when she demanded a minor aid be fired.  He had made an off color joke at her expense and she was offended.  The Ambassador went home without doing any negotiating.  As a result of all this, the US did not join the League of Nations and it ultimately failed.

Despite all their plans, word of the president’s ill health began to leak out by February 1920.  However, they were able to keep up the charade until March 1921, when Warren G. Harding took office.  Wilson died February 3, 1924, and zealously guarded his memory.  She denied access to any papers she deemed questionable and maintained strict control over the script of the 1944 biopic “Wilson”.  She died on December 24, 1961.  It was not until 1967 that the 25th amendment was ratified, outlining more specific means of a transfer of power when a president dies or is disabled.


The Sleeping Spy

Herbert Albert in 1915 Photo Credit- The Great War Blog

When World War I broke out in Europe, the United States was neutral.  It was considered a fight in Europe, and we were better off staying out of it.  Although President Wilson favored the British, the US officially took no side.  However, Wilson’s preference encouraged American companies to sell to the Allies.  However, not everyone was thrilled with this.  German Ambassador, Count Johann von Bernstorff, protested vigorously that US companies were selling arms and materiel to Britain, France and Russia.  There was a British blockade of Germany, which made it extremely difficult for Germany and Austria to import at the same rate.  However, his protests fell on deaf ears as there was too much money to be made on the war.  Something had to be done.


In February 1915, Berlin ordered its fleet of subs to start sinking all ships, whether they flew a neutral flag or not.  About the same time they sent an attache to Washington with express orders to sabotage “every kind of factory for supplying munitions of war.”  The big problem?  The man they sent, Franz von Papen had no idea what he was doing in the arena of espionage.   Von Papen got his embassy post through his wife’s family.  In a strange twist of fate, he also used these same connections to become chancellor the Weimar Republic.  He was replaced by a guy named Adolf Hitler in 1932, but that is much later.  In 1915, he had no idea what he was doing, but he did get some help in the person of Captain Franz von Rintelen, a innovative man who spoke fluent English and understood the social niceties of Manhattan society.


Under von Rintelen’s direction, “accidents” at sea increased as Irish born dockworkers planted bombs on Allied ships in American ports.  The American response was sluggish and left much to be desired.  At this time, there was no national intelligence service or code breaking agency.  Weirdly, there was no statute in place making peacetime espionage or sabotage, so there was nothing to use to prosecute these people as a group.  When caught, they had to be prosecuted by the states for individual crimes, which was messy and inefficient.  In May 1915, the policy of going after all neutral ships led to the sinking of the Lusitania, which turned public opinion and the feeling of President Wilson against the Germans.  Wilson then took the Secret Service off counterfeiters and set them to watching German diplomats.  This bore fruit due to a ridiculous mistake by Heinrich Albert.

Albert was the paymaster for the spy ring and as such had a significant amount of details about who was on the payroll doing what.  Albert left his New York office on July 15,1915 and headed towards the Sixth Avenue subway.  It was especially hot that July, and the heat made Albert sleepy and lulled by the rhythm of the train, he nodded off in his seat.  Leaning on his knee next to him was a briefcase stuffed full of important papers about the von Rintelen’s efforts.  The subway lurched into 50th street station waking Albert.  Startled that he almost missed his stop, Albert lept up and rushed off the train.  He forgot his briefcase.  Realizing his mistake, he ran back onto the car but the briefcase was gone.  It had been scooped up by the friendly neighborhood Secret Service agent, Frank Burke, who had been tailing him.  Albert attempted to chase the agent, but the Secret Service then was as bad ass as they are now and Burke eluded him.  Albert was screwed.

Secret Service agent Frank Burke photographed at retirement in 1942. Via Milwaukee Journal

The papers he carried fingered von Papen and von Rintelen.  Both were recalled to Berlin.  However, von Rintelen was picked up when his ship was stopped in the English Channel by the British.  Von Papen fared better as he was under diplomatic immunity and could not be arrested by the British.  However, immunity did not extend to his luggage, which was seized and searched.  In it, more papers were found leading to German saboteurs in the US.  Unfortunately, the subsequent sweep did not catch them all and those remaining were able to orchestrate the Black Tom explosion, which had the same force of a 5.5 magnitude earthquake and could be felt as far away as Maryland  (For more on the Black Tom explosion, please see this post:  http://www.historynaked.com/black-tom-explosion/ ), and the Hercules Powder Plant Company fire, which killed over a hundred workers, most of the women and children.

Although estimates from 1937 speculate that between 1915 and 1917, 43 US factories had unexplained fires or explosions and four dozen ships were known to have bombs.  However, this did not put a dent in the production of materiel going to the Allies.  What it did do was turn public and government opinion against the Germans.  Therefore when the Zimmerman Telegram, a communique from the Germans attempting to gain Mexican support against the US, was intercepted, the ground for declaring war was already prepared.

The Great Emu War

16939014_418934118448676_5238347523182136791_nYes, I am actually referring to the bird.

Following World War I, large numbers of ex-soldiers from Australia and Britian took up farming within Western Australia. With the onset of the Great Depression in 1929, these farmers were encouraged to increase their wheat crops, with the government promising but failing to provide assistance in the form of subsidies. Wheat prices continued to fall, and by October 1932 matters were becoming intense. The farmers prepared to harvest the season’s crop while simultaneously threatening to refuse to load the wheat.

The difficulties facing farmers was increased by the arrival of as many as 20,000 emus. Emus regularly migrate after their breeding season, heading to the coast from the inland regions. With the cleared land and additional water supplies being made available for livestock by the West Australian farmers, the emus found that the cultivated lands were good habitat, and they began to flock into farm territory. The emus consumed and spoiled the crops, as well as leaving large gaps in fences where rabbits could enter and cause further problems. Farmers relayed their concerns about the birds ravaging their crops, and a deputation of ex-soldiers were sent to meet with the Minister of Defence, Sir George Pearce. Having served in World War I, the soldier-settlers were well aware of the effectiveness of machine guns, and they requested their deployment. The minister agreed, although with some conditions attached:
1. The guns were to be used by military personnel.
2. Troop transport was to be financed by the Western Australian government.
3. The farmers would provide food, accommodation, and payment for the ammunition.

Pearce also supported the deployment on the grounds that the birds would make good target practice. However, it has also been argued that some in the government may have viewed this as a way of being seen to be helping the Western Australian farmers.

Military involvement was due to begin in October 1932. The “war” was conducted under the command of Major G.P.W. Meredith of the Seventh Heavy Battery of the Royal Australian Artillery, with Meredith commanding a pair of soldiers armed with two Lewis guns and 10,000 rounds of ammunition. The operation was delayed, however, by a period of rainfall that caused the emus to scatter over a wider area. The rain ceased by November 2, 1932, at which point the troops were deployed with orders to assist the farmers and, according to a newspaper account, to collect 100 emu skins so that their feathers could be used to make hats for light horsemen. The men traveled to Campion, where some 50 emus were sighted. As the birds were out of range of the guns, the local settlers attempted to herd the emus into an ambush, but the birds split into small groups and ran so that they were difficult to target. Nevertheless, while the first fusillade from the machine guns was ineffective due to the range, a second round of gunfire was able to kill “a number” of birds. Later the same day a small flock was encountered, and “perhaps a dozen” birds were killed.

The next significant event was on November 4. Meredith had established an ambush near a local dam, and more than 1,000 emus were spotted heading towards their position. This time the gunners waited until the birds were in close proximity before opening fire. The gun jammed after only twelve birds were killed, however, and the remainder scattered before more could be killed. No more birds were sighted that day.

In the days that followed Meredith chose to move further south where the birds were “reported to be fairly tame”, but there was only limited success in spite of his efforts. At one stage Meredith even went so far as to mount one of the guns on a truck: a move that proved to be ineffective, as the truck was unable to gain on the birds, and the ride was so rough that the gunner was unable to fire any shots. By November 8 just six days after the first engagement, 2,500 rounds of ammunition had been fired. The number of birds killed is uncertain: one account claims just 50 birds, but other accounts range from 200 to 500—the latter figure being provided by the settlers. Meredith’s official report noted that his men had suffered no casualties. Representatives in the Australian House of Representatives discussed the operation. Following the negative coverage of the events in the local media, that included claims that “only a few” emus had died, Pearce withdrew the military personnel and the guns on November 8.

After the withdrawal, Major Meredith compared the emus to Zulus and commented on the striking maneuverability of the emus, even while badly wounded. After the withdrawal of the military, the emu attacks on crops continued. Farmers again asked for support, citing the hot weather and drought that brought emus invading farms in the thousands. James Mitchell, the Premier of Western Australia lent his strong support to renewal of the military assistance. Additionally, a report from the Base Commander indicated that 300 emus had been killed in the initial operation.

Acting on the requests and the Base Commander’s report, by November 12 the Minister of Defence approved another attempt of military efforts. He defended the decision in the senate, explaining why the soldiers were necessary to combat the serious agricultural threat of the large emu population. Although the military had agreed to loan the guns to the Western Australian government on the expectation that they would provide the necessary people, Meredith was once again placed in the field due to an apparent lack of experienced machine gunners in the state.

Taking to the field on November 13, 1932, the military managed to kill 40 emus. By December the guns were accounting for approximately 100 emus per week. Meredith was recalled on December 10, and in his report he claimed 986 kills with 9,860 rounds, at a rate of exactly 10 rounds per confirmed kill. In addition, Meredith claimed 2,500 wounded birds had died as a result of the injuries that they had sustained. Despite the problems encountered with the cull, the farmers of the region once again requested military assistance in 1934, 1943 and 1948, only to be turned down by the government. Instead, the bounty system that had been instigated in 1923 was continued, and this proved to be effective: 57,034 bounties were claimed over a six-month period in 1934.

By December 1932, word of the Emu War had spread, reaching the United Kingdom. Some conservationists there protested the cull as “extermination of the rare emu”. Dominic Serventy, an eminent Australian ornithologist, described the cull as “an attempt at the mass destruction of the birds”.