Races: Freedom--Now

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afternoon, King called a mass meeting at theNew Pilgrim Baptist Church. Outside, Bull Connor massed 50 policemen and a fire truck with water pressure cranked up to 700 Ibs. When the crowd of 1,000 poured out of the church just before dusk, they lined up and marched toward the police. A police captain demanded their parade permit. They had none. Seeing the fire hoses, they knelt in silence as a Negro minister solemnly began to pray: "Let them turn their water on. Let them use their dogs. We are not leaving. Forgive them, O Lord." Suddenly, inexplicably, in a moment of overt mercy, Bull Connor waved the Negroes through the police line. He allowed them 15 minutes of hymns and prayer in a small park near the city jail; inside, behind bars, hundreds of other Negroes could hear the singing. Returning to the church, the demonstrators were told that Negro children would march again next day—and should carry their toothbrushes with them to use in jail. The march began a few minutes past 1 o'clock, led by Comedian Dick Gregory, from the 16th Street Baptist Church. When a policeman demanded his parade permit. Gregory spoke softly—in contrast to his wisecracking smart talk to cops during last month's Greenwood, Miss., voting registration demonstrations. Gregory and 18 teen-agers in his protest platoon were herded into a paddy wagon. In squads of 20, 30, and 40, more youngsters left the church, were shoved into paddy wagons and taken to jail. Bull Connor arrived and yelled at a police captain: "I told you these sons of bitches ought to be watered down." That night, to shouts of "Amen, brother, amen," a King aide cried: "War has been declared in Birmingham. War has been declared on segregation." The Negro leaders intended it to be a particular, pacific kind of war. King had preached Gandhi's nonviolent protest gospel ever since he arrived in Birmingham. The demonstrations were meant to be an outgrowth of the passive sit-ins and bus boycotts mounted in other Southern cities. But not every Negro in Birmingham remained so placid before Bull Connor's ferocity. "Those Black Apes." So there was violence. It began shortly after noon the next day. Connor's cops were relaxed, eating sandwiches and sipping soft drinks. They were caught by surprise when the doors of the 16th Street church were flung open and 2,500 Negroes swarmed out. The Negroes surged across Kelly Ingram Park, burst through the police line, and descended on downtown Birmingham. Yelling and singing, they charged in and out of department stores, jostled whites on the streets, paralyzed traffic. Recovering, the police got reinforcements. Firemen hooked up their hoses. Motorcycles and squad cars, sirens blaring, rushed into the area. Two policemen grabbed a Negro, shoved him against a storefront—and found themselves caught inside a glowering circle of 300 Negroes. A voice growled menacingly: "Let's free him." But demonstration leaders quickly broke into the circle and managed to save the policemen. The riot ebbed—and then, an hour later, exploded again. In Kelly Ingram Park, hundreds of Negroes began lobbing bricks and bottles at the lawmen. A deputy sheriff fell to the pavement, shouting "Those black apes!" For two hours, the battle raged, but slowly, inexorably, in trucks and cars, the police closed in on the
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