Machine Guns in Narragansett Bay: The Coast Guard's War on Rumrunners
During World War I and World War II, Rhode Island was dotted with coastal forts filled with large caliber guns. Yet they were never fired in anger. By contrast, from 1929 to 1933, during Prohibition, U.S. Coast Guard vessels frequently fired machine guns at rumrunners in Narragansett Bay.
Machine gun fire killed three rumrunners and wounded another on the notorious Black Duck. Despite the incident drawing national protests, the carnage continued. The Coast Guard fired machine guns at dozens more rumrunners in Rhode Island waters, killing another man, severely wounding two others, and causing several boats to explode or sink.
Join author and historian Christian McBurney as he explores the use of excessive force in Narragansett Bay and other Rhode Island waters.