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The second trial date was November 25, 1963, the day of President Kennedy's funeral. Again the defense moved for a sixmonth continuance which the judge granted, again without opposition. According to the judge:
[N]o person charged with an attempt upon the life of an-
short shrift at the hands of the jury." A third trial was scheduled for May 1964. This time the State requested and obtained a six-month continuance because of the illness of its principal witness, the former sheriff who had taken the confession.67 The fourth scheduled date for trial was in November 1964. District Attorney Everett, who had assumed office after the first continuance in May 1963, testified that he interviewed the officer who had taken the confession a few days before the trial. Everett stated that he learned for the first time of circumstances which, in his judgment, rendered the confession inadmissible.68 Since he did not believe the other evidence in the case would support a conviction, Everett moved that the trial be permanently adjourned. As a result, no trial has been held or is scheduled and the investigation has been closed."
35 T. 274. 86 T.E. 117. 07 T. 274. 88 T. 275, 278. 69 T. 275.
70 T. 275, 280–81.
OFFICIAL INTERFERENCE WITH THE
EXERCISE OF FEDERAL RIGHTS
Failures by State and local officials to prevent violence or punish those responsible has not been the only obstacle to the assertion of Federal rights by Negroes. State and local officials, by deliberately abusing legal processes, have thwarted or attempted to punish citizens exercising or attempting to exercise these rights.
In its study of these abuses, the Commission focused on the reactions of State and local officials to attempts by Negroes peacefully to assemble, publicly to protest denials of civil rights, and to obtain access to public facilities and public accommodations. The communities studied were Jackson, Greenwood, and Laurel, Mississippi; Gadsden, Alabama; Americus, Georgia; and St. Augustine, Florida.
Official response was manifested in various ways in these cities. Frequently it took the form of judicial and legislative efforts to prohibit constitutionally protected activity. Mass arrests of persons attempting to exercise rights were common. Discrimination and arbitrariness were prevalent in the setting of bail, in sentencing, and in the handling of juveniles. Prison conditions were alleged to be intolerable in several of the cities.
* Problems of private racial violence and misuse of legal processes to prevent exercise of rights are not mutually exclusive. As indicated in previous chapters, private violence is frequently accompanied by harassing arrests. In areas covered in this chapter, legal repression of civil rights activity was sometimes accompanied by private violence which went unpunished. See, e.g., the failure of law enforcement officials to prevent or punish violence against demonstrators in Laurel, Greenwood, and St. Augustine described in Chapter 3, supra.
FEDERAL RIGHTS INVOLVED
In recent years demonstrations and public protests have become a prime method of asserting and publicizing demands for equal rights for Negroes.” In cases resulting from efforts to suppress and interfere with demonstrations, the Supreme Court of the United States has held that peaceful protest demonstrations that do not unreasonably interfere with valid local functions—such as the regulation of traffic-are encompassed within the rights of free speech, assembly, and petition for redress of grievances guaranteed by the ist and 14th amendments.
Because the communication of demands through public protest activity necessarily interferes with activities of other members of the community, courts have held that the right of public assembly is not entitled to as broad a protection as the right of free speech or the press. Thus, courts have attempted to delimit the scope of protected activity:
A restriction ... designed to promote the public con-
In 1963 alone, more than 900 protest demonstrations occurred in 115 southern cities. Southern Regional Council, Inc., Synopsis of Recent Developments, No. 4, Dec. 31, 1963,
3 See Edwards v. South Carolina, 372 U.S. 229 (1963). * See Cox v. Louisiana, 379 U.S. 536 (1965).
public or private building, and allow no one to pass who
did not agree to listen to their exhortations." But the permissible extent of a demonstration may be related to the seriousness of the wrong protested:
[I]t seems basic to our constitutional principles that the
against. Although it is valid for a municipality to regulate use of its streets by requiring a license to parade, licensing regulations may not be administered in a discriminatory manner.' Neither may the regulation be so broadly drawn that the licensor may use his discretion to stifle free communication. In addition, the fact that a demonstration "induces a condition of unrest, creates dissatisfaction with conditions as they are or even stirs people to anger" will not remove it from constitutional protections, nor will it "permit a State to make criminal the peaceful expression of unpopular views.
The problems surrounding the legality of protest demonstrations are not raised by attempts to utilize previously segregated public facilities and public accommodations. The 14th amendment has long been held to prohibit a State, its agencies, its subdivisions, or its officials from enforcing or requiring or practicing segregation in public facilities or requiring segregation in public
sid. at 554-55.
& Williams v. Wallace, 240 F. Supp. 100, 106 (M.D. Ala. 1965) upholding the right of hundreds of persons to march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., to protest voting denials. See also Kelly v. Page, 335 F. 2d 114 (5th Cir. 1964).
Niemotko v. Maryland, 340 U.S. 268, 272 (1951); Yick Wo v. Hopkins, 118 U.S. 356 (1885).
8 Such an ordinance, therefore, must contain standards for the exercise of the licensor's discretion. Cox v. New Hampshire, 312 U.S. 569 (1941); Schneider v. State, 308 U.S. 147 (1939). See Katzenbach, The Protection of Political Rights, 24 Fed. B.J. 18, 27 (1964).
° Edwards v. South Carolina, 372 U.S. 229, 237 (1963).