111 years ago today, a violent mob of “Americans” began attacking the Greek neighborhood of Omaha, Nebraska, where thousands of immigrant workers lived, had their churches and schools and were trying to raise their families.
THREE THOUSAND PEOPLE left everything they owned and fled for their lives in the middle of the night while “Americans” burned, pillaged and attacked… SIMPLY BECAUSE THEY WERE GREEK.
Let that sink in. Greeks were targeted… simply for being Greek. It has a familiar ring to it, doesn’t it? People were targeted for being who they were born.
Greeks were dehumanized in the media. They were called rats and vermin. A petition was circulated throughout the city gaining thousands of signatures from residents that aimed to “rid the city of the Greeks, and thereby remove the menacing conditions that threaten the very life and welfare of South Omaha.”
The media wrote that the city had become “infested by a vile bunch of filthy Greeks who have attacked our women, insulted pedestrians upon the street, openly maintained gambling dens and many other forms of viciousness.”
The Omaha Daily News described Greeks as “unsanitary,” “offensive,” and “a menace to the American laboring man.” The Omaha World-Herald cried that they spread “vile, loathsome and contagious diseases.”
The next time you hear a political leader marginalizing a group— whether they’re Mexicans or Muslims… Whether they’re Jews or Japanese… Think of the thousands of Greeks who lost everything they owned and fled to all corners of America— refugees in their new country.
REMEMBER that we were once the targeted, the hunted, the scum, the filthy Greeks, the greasy Greeks.
It all started in Omaha, on this day in 1909 when a Greek man named John Masourides was arrested for being in the company of a fair skinned woman named Lillian Breese.
Some accounts claim there was an inappropriate relationship between the 34-year-old man with the 17-year-old girl, while other accounts say she was teaching him and other Greek men English.
Masourides was arrested and while being taken to jail, he got into a scuffle with the police officer and shot and killed him.
Almost immediately EVERY GREEK BECAME A TARGET— just because they were Greek. Violent riots broke out and the entire Greektown section of town was burned.
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