Monday, October 21, 1912

by Elizabeth

Following the Illinois football victory over Indiana, over five hundred university students stormed the Walker opera house on Saturday night, bombarding the building with bricks, breaking windows and battering down doors. A chorus girl fainted onstage. Another chorus girl was struck by a brick in the dressing room. Another on fell down the dressing-room stairs after fainting. A stage hand was struck on the head by a brick, and a Champaign High school student was knocked unconscious by a blow from a club.

The side door went down, and the crowd rushed in “but was halted by a line of determined stage hands, armed with clubs, hatchets and revolvers.” George Huff, the director of athletics at the university, mounted the fire escape and told the rioters, “Murder will inevitably result if this is not stopped. I certainly would not blame the theatre management if its men shot you. This is a disgrace to the university. If you want to kill football, you are taking the best way. These disturbances have been argued as a reason football should be abolished.”

His speech quelled the riot, but the mob soon reorganized and broke up Speaker Charles Adkins’ political meeting for the second time that evening. Earlier, the students had gathered around the automobile where Adkins, of the Illinois House of Representatives, was making a speech in the interests of President Taft and Congressman McKinley. “By hooting and firing revolvers, the gang forced Mr. Adkins to desist.”