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Black Muslim Trial in Los Angeles Coming to Close

May 11, 1963 - The state of California has completed a 9-day presentation of its case against 14 Black Muslims indicted for participating in a fatal riot at a Muslim temple in South Central Los Angeles last year. One Muslim, Ronald Stokes, was killed in the melee, and another was left paralyzed. The trial has been called by the Nation of Islam’s national leader, Elijah Muhammad of Chicago, “the most crucial case on the American scene.” One of the defendants is charged with assault with intent to kill. The others are charged with assault and interference with police officers. The jury of 11 women and 1 man, although drawn from a multiracial pool, is all white — a fact to which the defense has taken formal exception. A major point of dispute over the riot on April 27, 1962, revolves around the attitudes of both sides. The police have insisted that their approach to the Muslims had been polite, but that the Muslims had become immediately combative. The defense has contended that the police had referred to the Muslims repeatedly as “n*****s,” had manhandled them without provocation, and at one point had threatened to open fire on the group. Courtroom spectators have included both Malcolm X, national spokesman for the Nation of Islam, and the leader of the American Nazi movement, George Lincoln Rockwell. Mr. Rockwell, who flew to Los Angeles from his Arlington, Va., headquarters, asserted today that most Negroes “are in complete agreement with the Muslims and their ideals, just as most of the white people of the country are in agreement with the Nazis.”


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