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Class and race prejudice were two issues that surfaced in this story from the San Francisco “Call.” Many of the wealthy considered refugee camps to be “hotbeds of socialism,” and wanted them removed as quickly as possible from their neighborhoods. This story is also of interest because it contains one of the few references in the earthquake literature to African American victims of the disaster.

Adorned with Diamonds, She Protests Removal from Lafayette Square.

The refugees of Lafayette Square held a mass meeting last night to protest against the plan of the relief committee to remove them to the ground on Thirteenth and Fourteenth avenues, where it is proposed to build houses for them. The result of the meeting was the appointment of a committee to wait on the Park Commission and request the further use of the square.

The meeting was led by Mrs. J.W. Scott, one of the refugees of the camps who lives in Tent 1, Section G. Mrs. Scott was well—almost handsomely attired. In her ears sparkled brilliant diamonds, at her throat was a valuable diamond sunburst, and rich gems sparkled on her white hands. Mrs. Scott in opening the meeting, spoke in part as follows:

The Park Commissioners voted that no cottages should be built in Lafayette square on the plea that it is windy and suggesting the removal of the campers to Thirteenth and Fourteenth avenues, near the Presidio. Such an act will be an eternal disgrace as well as a hellish punishment for the deserving ones who have become reconciled to the conditions as they were existing. There is but one reason why the people of Lafayette square should be singled out for removal, and that is the objection of certain people of wealth to their presence.

Which ought to be the first consideration, the whims of the rich or the absolute requirements of the unfortunate? By right the poor refugees have just as much claim on the property of the city as the people in mansions. The money that is being used was subscribed by outsiders for the benefit of the deserving who were burned out and could not pay heavy rents. My advice to you all is to stick together until the insult and wrong to us have been rectified. Imagine being sent to Fourteenth avenue. One line of cars only going near there and no transferring. This means $1.20 per week for the carfare for one. Who in the present dilemma can pay it? How can men and women get to work in any reasonable time?

Rather than submit to be treated as deported beings by the self-constituted dispensers of other peoples money it will be advisable to take all chances of cold and sickness by remaining in tents where we are.

Speeches were also made by L.H. Cooper, A.W. Belcher and J.W. Scott.

A committee composed of Mrs. J.W. Scott, J.W. Scott and L.H. Cooper was appointed to go before the Park Commission today and protest against their removal.

During the meeting some one in the crowd suggested that a colored man, named Rufus Jones, a camp dweller at Lafayette Square, be added to the committee. At this suggestion Mrs. Scott rebelled and called out “no.” Some one called out, “Race prejudice should not to be considered.” Mrs. Scott, however, carried her way, and the committee was not increased.

San Francisco Call
September 27, 1906

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