Thomas P. Foster

Location: Little Rock, Arkansas

Age: 25

Year: 1942

Thomas P. Foster, 25, was a US Army sergeant who was killed by city police officer Abner J. Hay in Little Rock, Pulaski County, Arkansas.

Witnessing the assault of off-duty, Black soldiers by civilian and military police, Foster tried to intervene, but was beaten unconscious by police.

As he lay on the ground, officer Hay shot him five times at point-blank range.

Federal grand jury declined to indict, possibly because Hay had subsequently been inducted into the Army.

Attorney General Francis Biddle wrote to Secretary of War Henry L. Stinson, arguing that Hay’s actions warranted his discharge from the Army. Stinson declined to act.

For more information, search CRRJ’s archive.

Read more about Foster’s death on the Burnham-Nobles Digital Archive

About the Archive

The Burnham-Nobles Digital Archive houses case files and documents for more than 1,000 cases of racial homicides in the Jim Crow South. Co-founded by Melissa Nobles, professor of political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Margaret Burnham, CRRJ director and professor of law at Northeastern, these uncovered stories highlight how violence affected lives, defined legal rights and shaped politics between 1930 and 1954.

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