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New York City had led me to the belief that the second night in these matters is frequently the most difficult. We wanted to be ready.
Mr. HARSHA. What did you think the National Guard would accomplish?
Mr. MURPHY. It would have given us more people on the streets. We could assign them along the streets that we were concerned about, the business streets in the low-income neighborhoods. They would have supplemented us, Congressman.
Mr. HARSHA. Would their presence have been a deterrent?
Mr. MURPHY. Yes, sir. I think the presence of police officers, National Guardsmen or Military, is a very effective deterrent; depending upon the order of magnitude of the disturbance, it can be controlled.
If every Friday and Saturday night a policeman controlled disturbances, they would prevent minor disturbances from flaring upthe prompt response of sufficient officers suppresses what could easily develop into a more serious disorder. It is a numbers thing-getting enough people there.
Practically, during the early days of April here, many hundreds, and even thousands of citizens violated the law. Some of them were people who never before violated it.
Mr. HARSHA. Well, their presence wasn't very much of a deterrent, then, was it?
Mr. MURPHY. Oh, as soon as we had sufficient strength-well, what happened, Congressman, was that before we had the National Guard on duty in the city, the disorder had flared up again through the afternoon;
Friday afternoon, sir.
Mr. HARSHA. Then, didn't you encounter considerable delay in getting the troops across the bridge?
Mr. MURPHY. No, sir. I don't know that we have any confirmed information about traffic delay in moving troops—but minor delays perhaps—but our motorcycle officers escorted many of those columns.
Mr. HARSHA. Why were the school children released at 1:30 p.m.? Wouldn't it have been better to keep them in school rather than to add to the confusion on the streets?
Mr. MURPHY. I was consulted briefly about that decision, Mr. Congressman, but it was made with the school authorities and Commissioner Washington. I don't have a clear recollection. Do you recall, Chief Layton, what the authority was?
I should point out, Congressman, that some students left school without being dismissed.
Mr. HARSHA. The majority of them did not do that, did they?
Mr. MURPHY. I don't have a figure. It may be that the lunch hour was cancelled, but I prefer not to say. I am not clear on the reason for that decision, but I am sure the Commissioner or the school authorities would know better than I.
Mr. HARSHA. I would like to review your comments, in view of your appearance at this Committee, that you were prepared for any erentuality.
The police on the scene at first seemed confused as to what action they were expected to take, and I understand this call came over the police radio, "Won't someone please tell us what to do?”
Was any such communication carried over the police radios?
Mr. MURPHY. The message that I participated in, Congressman, was something like this, as best I recall it, where at 14th and U-We were having rocks and bottles thrown at us, and there were hundreds of people in the streets, and windows are breaking, what should we do?
My best recollection of my response was, “If your safety is in danger, leave there."
And then I sent a message to rendezvous with me a block away. I don't recall ever hearing the language you quote.
Mr. HARSHIA. Well, let me quote: "Surrounded by mob of about 50 people, what do we do? They are rioting. Do we arrest them or leave?”
Mr. MỰRPHY. I do not recall hearing that transmission, sir.
Mr. Harsha. In substance, it is about what you heard, though, isn't it?
Mr. MURPHY. Well, the officer sought direction about whether to try to hold that corner or leave it and regroup, and I directed, in effect, to regroup and come out.
Mr. HARSHA. My point is this: The police officers were not prepared for any eventuality. They were not instructed as to what to do in a situation of that kind, were they?
Mr. MURPHY. I think, sir, the officers in this Department are well instructed. Some of the situations that develop are extremely difficult and the decisions that an officer had to make are extremely difficult ones. He is overwhelmed by numbers. It is awfully difficult to predict how human beings will react.
Mr. HARSHA. I understand that. But the fact is that you assured this Committee that you were prepared for any eventuality. Those are your words. And you just assured us now that you are ready for any eventuality in the future. That is a broad statement to make, and it is quite possible that you still aren't prepared for any eventuality.
Mr. MURPHY. Well, they have received much instruction, sir. That was a poor statement. I should have qualified that by adding, “within our resources and within the limitations of the judgment and discipline and control of our officers," all of which are factors that are not easy factors.
Mr. HARSHA. Well, I couldn't agree with you there. I just have one other question.
I believe you said that you were disturbed about the recent riots? Mr. MURPHY. Yes, sir. Mr. HARSHA. You also made the statement, I believe, that you were disturbed about the losses you foresee in the days ahead?
Mr. MURPHY. I don't foresee losses. I said I am disturbed about the possibility. I am concerned about the possibility of the problems that face us in the days ahead. Mr. HARSHA. What are these possibilities that you foresee? Mr. Murphy. Well
, the Department could possibly be very much taxed in the next few weeks in policing demonstrations or marchers. A group in the city has announced it will be visiting Government office buildings and possibly to Congress. It will require the assignment of large numbers of police officers at the same time that we have a difficult crime problem.
So we are concerned because the Department is taxed these days with some very serious problems.
Mr. HARSHA. What have you done to alleviate the situation ?
Mr. MURPHY. Well, we have increased overtime duty. Chief Layton has increased patrols and assignments in areas where the crime incidence is high. We have formed a new unit in the Department, an arson squad, which is concentrating on the crime problems flowing directly from these disorders.
We have had to assign people to planning and training for the handling of large crowds, including possibly large numbers of arrests. We have had to work with the United States Attorney's office and the Department of Justice and other agencies concerning the processing of prisoners. We have just done an awful lot of things.
The CHAIRMAN. Would it be agreeable to come back tomorrow morning?
Mr. MATHIAS. I think it is important.
Mr. FRASER. Yes, Mr. Chairman, I think we have not had an opportunity, many of us, to explore some other aspects of this.
The CHAIRMAN. Can you make yourself available tomorrow morning, Mr. Murphy?
Mr. MURPHY. Yes, I will certainly be available.
(Whereupon, at 12:30 p.m., the full committee adjourned, to reconvene on Thursday, May 16, 1968.)
CIVIL DISTURBANCES IN WASHINGTON
THURSDAY, MAY 16, 1968
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, D.C. The Full Committee met, pursuant to recess, at 11:10 a.m., in Room 1310, Longworth House Office Building, Honorable John Dowdy, presiding.
Present: Representatives Dowdy (presiding), Abernethy, Whitener,
Sara Watson, Assistant Coun-
Mr. MURPHY. Thank you.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA GOVERNMENT, ACCOMPANIED BY JOHN
The report of the City Council's public hearings on the Rebuilding and Recovery of Washington from the civil disturbances of April, 1968, on page 2 says:
Citizens can be grateful for the rapid, courageous, and sympathetic response of the Police, Fire Departments, Armed Services, Health and Welfare workers, the Urban Coalition, Sanitation and Inspection crews, and many other private groups and individuals. I just wanted to underscore that the Police Department and the Fire Department, both agencies under the jurisdiction of our witness, have been the recipient of this compliment from the members of the City Council of the District of Columbia which, I think, needs to be underscored because one might get the impression from certain criticisms that the activities of those Departments during that disturbance was not properly appreciated.
I would like to concur in that accolade, because as one who has actually lived through this kind of disturbance in Detroit and not from underneath a bed, but actually being right out there in the street in the middle of it, almost from its inception, and having also been in Newark the night that Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated, as a principal speaker for a testimonial for one of the public officials of that community. The mayor was there.
Of course, the program was immediately curtailed, and I went with the mayor, a former Member of Congress, Mayor Addonizio, into the streets of Newark in an effort to keep reactions from getting overheated.
I was also in Atlanta that next day until after the funeral. There were reactions down there that produced some of the incidents that were experienced here in Washington. I was in the streets of Atlanta, so that I say I can speak from some measure of experience in these matters, which undergirds my appreciation for a very difficult situation that the police have encountered.
I think that people need to understand this. I think that we need also to put in the proper context the fact that this situation is not peculiar to the District of Columbia; that this protest technique is a phenomenon of the 1960's, the late 1960's; that the protest which produces this kind of destruction has been evidenced not only in the larger cities of this nation of ours, but in Warsaw, in Paris, and just two days ago in Panama, where most of the people in the audience, I am sure, witnessed on television cars being overturned and burned, and people being chased, and so on.
It does indicate that in crises, spontaneous situations of this nature, our Police departments are actually undermanned for this purpose.
So I am always curious about criticisms that are directed at our Police Department about their alleged inadequacies in moments of
I am also mindful, having been in many Police State communitiesin Latin-America, where you may see a policeman on every corner, where you will witness dips in the street at almost every intersectionthat this is something that we could get into if we concur in some of the implications that have been made in and out of press with respect to the police situation.
If we want a Police State in this country, if we feel that Police are the answer and the only answer to the situation, then we are talking about a policeman on every corner and dips in the intersections.
We are not talking about the United States of America. I don't believe that anyone would want this kind of Police State to exist in our country.
So, therefore, I think we ought to put this thing in proper context. There were some references made to the kind of people who were engaging in this activity. I think the word "dangerous" people was used. There was an attempt to get some kind of response that would indicate that all of the people who were engaged in these kinds of activities were dangerous people--were criminals of some type; whereas, I do not condone any of this activity, the fact of the matter is that a profile of the average looter does not turn up a criminal kind of person.
I was in the middle of the greatest experience of this type in Detroit, and opportunity targets presented themselves and encouraged people to become looters. I saw mothers with small children going in places