Statutes: Civil Rights Counterattack

Four young men have sweated out the comforts of the county jail in Americus, Ga., ever since August, when they were arrested during civil rights demonstrations. They cannot be freed on bail—they have been charged with "inciting an insurrection," a crime that, in Georgia at least, is punishable by death.

So harsh a sentence is hardly likely, but dusting off the long-unused 1871 statute serves a practical purpose: it provides a handy way to keep three annoying white men and one Negro locked up indefinitely. In some communities, so many Negroes are being...

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