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Alabama State Troopers Rough Up Negroes Attempting to Register to Vote

Oct. 7, 1963 - Alabama state troopers and local officers in Selma, shouting and waving nightsticks, roughed up two Negroes and two news photographers today during a mass voter registration attempt at the Dallas County Courthouse. The Negroes, both workers for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, were thrown into a bus and taken to jail. A white man in plain clothes was allowed on the bus, and he threatened their lives. “Where are you n*****s from?” he asked. “I’m from Illinois,” one of them answered. “You better get back there,” the man said. “If I see you on the street at night, I’m going to kill you.” One photographer, Wendell Hoffman of CBS, was struck by a nightstick after several sheriff’s deputies shoved him into the street. An officer struck at Mr. Hoffman’s groin, but he warded off the blow with his camera. Agents for the FBI and other Department of Justice employees reported the incident to Washington immediately. The disturbance occurred after the two committee workers tried to take sandwiches to some 200 Negroes who had stood in line all day without food or drink waiting to register. James Baldwin, the Negro novelist, who came to Selma to support the registration drive, observed the incident. He called Selma “one of the worst places I ever saw.” Before Mr. Baldwin arrived, more than 300 Negroes had been arrested for demonstrating against voter discrimination.


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