On October 12, 1974, three African American Muslim men took over WAPX, a Rhythm and Blues radio station located on Dexter Avenue in downtown Montgomery, Alabama. During the siege the men announced on air that the “revolution has begun,” and then encouraged the African American population to join them in an armed confrontation with local police. An ensuing shootout brought 300 law enforcement officers to Dexter Avenue, where they rained thousands of bullets into the radio station. The standoff lasted almost three hours before the hostages escaped, teargas was employed, and a negotiator convinced the three men to surrender. While African Americans onlookers assembled along police parameters, no one joined the hostage takers in the intensifying confrontation. The WAPX shootout capped a three-day crime spree and led to life sentences for Arthur Willie Lewis, Julius Davis and Reginald Robinson. The episode also prompted the development of a SWAT unit in Montgomery, hasten the decline of Montgomery’s downtown shopping district, and fed into the rising call for law and order.
Howard Robinson, A Call to Revolution, August 2023