Incident Summary:

10/24/1970: Fifteen to eighteen Black militants, dressed in military fatigues and armed with rifles, opened fire on police headquarters in Cairo, Illinois, United States, three separate times during a six hour period. Police were able to repel each of the three attacks. One Black militant was injured and one bystander was hit by a stray bullet. Buildings in the surrounding area were also damaged by bullets. In response to this attack, the mayor claimed that there was an "open armed insurrection" taking place in Cairo.



United States

North America

region/u.s. state:



Location Details:
Washington Avenue

Attack Information
Type of Attack (more) Armed Assault
Successful Attack? (more) Yes
Target Information (more)
Target Type: Police
Name of Entity Cairo Police Department
Specific Description Cairo Police Headquarters
Nationality of Target United States
Additional Information
Hostages No
Ransom No
Property Damage Yes
Extent of Property Damage Minor (likely < $1 million)
Value of Property Damage Unknown
Weapon Information
Type Sub-type
Firearms Rifle/Shotgun (non-automatic)
Weapon Details
Additional Information
Suicide Attack?No
Part of Multiple Incident?Yes
Criterion 1 (more) Yes
Criterion 2 (more) Yes
Criterion 3 (more) Yes
Additional Information This might be part of a multiple attack with (197010240003) which took place in Cairo an hour earlier. Snipers fired upon the police headquarters less than a week earlier (197010210003). This first attack on the police station took place at 8:15 PM, the second attack took place at 10:15 PM, and the third attack took place at 2:10 AM on October 25th. The final attack took thirty-five minutes and hundreds of rounds were fired. Some of the gunmen emerged from the building that acted as the headquarters of the Black United Front, an organization which was directing a boycott of White owned businesses in Cairo at the time. The Mayor of Cairo, Albert Thomas, believed that some of the Black militants were members of the Black Panther Party, however, the Black Panthers denied any involvement in the attacks. State troopers were ordered into Cairo as a result of the attacks.
Perpetrator Group Information
Group Name Claimed Responsibility
Black Panthers (suspected) No
Perpetrator Statistics
Number of Perpetrators 16
Number of Captured Perpetrators 0
Casualty Information
Total Number of Casualties 0 Fatalities / 2 Injured
Total Number of Fatalities 0
Number of U.S. Fatalities 0
Number of Perpetrator Fatalities 0
Total Number of Injured 2
Number of U.S. Injured 2
Number of Perpetrators Injured 1
"Armed Negroes Attack Police Station in Cairo, Ill." New York Times, October 25, 1970.
"State Troopers on Duty in Cairo," New York Times, October 26, 1970.
"Riflemen Attack Police Station," Deseret News, October 24, 1970.