Imágenes de páginas


The great majority of our citizens believe in law and order and are against violence of any kind. In spite of this, acts of terrorism have been committed numerous times against citizens both Negro and white.

We believe the time has come for responsible people to speak out for what is right and against what is wrong. For too long we have let the extremists on both sides bring our community close to chaos.

There is only one responsible stance we can take: and that is for equal treatment under the law for all citizens regardless of race, creed, position or wealth; for making our protests within the framework of the law; and for obeying the laws of the land regardless of our personal feelings. Certain of these laws may be contrary to our traditions, CUStoms or beliefs, but as God-fearing men and women, and as citizens of these United States, we see no other honorable course to follow.

To these ends and for the purpose of restoring
peace, tranquility and progress to our area, we re-
spectfully urge the following:
1. Order and respect for law must be reestablish-

ed and maintained.
(a) Law officers should make only lawful ar-

rests. "Harassment“ arrests, no matter what
the provocation, are not consonant with im-

partiality of the law.
(b) To insure the confidence of the people in

their officials, we insist that no man is en-
titled to serve in a public office, elective or
appointive, who is a member of any organ-



ization declared to be subversive by the Senate Internal Security Sub-Committee or the United States Army, Navy or Air Force, or to take any obligation upon himself in conflict

with his oath of office. 2. Economic threats and sanctions against peo

ple of both races must be ended. They only

bring harm to both races. 3. We urge citizens of both races to reestablish

avenues of communication and understanding. In addition, it is urged that the Negro

leadership cooperate with local officials. 4. We urge widest possible use of our citizenship

in the selection of juries. We further urge that men called for jury duty not be excused ex

cept for the most compelling reasons. 5. We urge our fellow citizens to take a greate,

interest in public affairs, in the selection of candidates, and in the support and/or con

structive criticism of Public Servants. 6. We urge all of our people to approach the

future with a renewed dedication and to reflect an attitude of optimism about our

county. We, the undersigned, have read and hereby subscribe and support the principles and purposes herein set forth.

(Note: Public officials and public employes have not been asked to sign this petition; some may have voluntarily done so. Anyone who can subscribe to these principles is invited to do so by contacting any signer.)

was also demonstrated by harassing arrests of civil rights workers engaged in lawful activities, and by law enforcement officials' publicized membership in organizations committed to white supremacy and the preservation of segregation.


Many of the incidents of racial violence described in the preceding chapter were clandestine attacks. In some cases, however, violence occurred in circumstances where law enforcement officers were or could have been present to take preventive action or make arrests. Nevertheless, in only a few cases, were arrests made for crimes of racial violence. The Commission investigated the manner in which police performed their duty to prevent violence and make arrests. It also studied the conduct of prosecutors in seeking indictments and obtaining convictions.



FEDERAL RIGHTS The failure of law enforcement officials to protect persons exercising Federal rights from violence interferes as decisively with the exercise of those rights as would a direct prohibition. The best known example of such interference is the 1961 Freedom Rides in Alabama. In that instance, a Federal judge issued an injunction against the police requiring them to protect the Freedom Riders, stating that their prior failure was a direct interference with the right to travel in interstate commerce.? Since that time, as attempts by Negroes to exercise Federal rights in the South have increased, violence by private citizens against persons exercising these rights has also increased. The Commission studied several cases in which law enforcement officersalthough present and aware of the possibility of violence-failed to prevent such violence or to arrest the persons responsible.

See 1961 Report of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Justice 29-33 (hereinafter cited as Justice Report). See also Marshall, Federalism and Civil Rights 66-68

* United States v. U.S. Klans, 194 F. Supp. 897 (M.D. Ala. 1961).

Greenwood, Mississippi

In Greenwood, the county seat of Leflore County, two Negro brothers, Silas and Jake McGhee, tried repeatedly in July 1964 to attend the previously segregated Leflore Theater. The manager admitted them, as required by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but angry crowds of whites gathered frequently at the theater, attempted to keep white patrons away by picketing with signs saying, “This is a nigger theater,” and beat and harassed Negroes when they attended the theater. The building was also stoned by the crowds.

Silas McGhee first attempted to attend the theater on July 5. He was attacked by a group of men. Although he reported the incident immediately to the city police, no arrests were made.“ His brother Jake McGhee was attacked at the theater on July 8. Following this assault, the police attempted to persuade the manager of the theater to sign a warrant for his arrest. On July 16 Silas McGhee was abducted by a gang of men who referred to his having attended the theater and who then beat him with pipes and boards. Although McGhee swore out a warrant before the justice of the peace, no arrests were made by local officials. .

During this period the manager of the theater and the McGhees made repeated requests to city officials for protection but received none. The police made no attempt to stop the violence or to

8 Record, Deposition of John Marchand, Dec. 11, 1964, United States v. Sampson, Civil No. GC 6449, N.D. Miss., Sept. 2, 1964.

* Record, Deposition of Silas McGhee, Dec. II, 1964, at 3–6, United States v. Sampson, supra.

Deposition of John Marchand, supra note 3, at 23-26. ® Interview with Silas McGhee, Oct. 4, 1964. The men were subsequently arrested by agents of the FBI, United States v. Belk, No. GCr-659 (N.D. Miss.). Trial has been delayed pending the decision in United States v. Guest, prob. juris noted, 381 U.S. 932 (1965), see Ch. 6, infra, pp. 109–12.

Deposition of John Marchand, supra note 3; deposition of Silas McGhee, supra note 4.

« AnteriorContinuar »