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CORE Demonstrators Arrested in NYC

May 26, 1964 - New York City police officers arrested nine youthful members of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) today after they had blocked the doors of the City Building Department’s headquarters for 2½ hours. The sit-in was staged to protest lower East Side housing conditions.

The three men and six women in the demonstration went along docilely with the arresting officers headed by Inspector Henry Yack of the First Division. They were booked at the Elizabeth Street Station on charges of unlawful assembly, intrusion on property, and disorderly conduct.

Occasionally singing CORE songs and chanting slogans such as “slumlords must go,” the group sat on the floor of the anteroom outside the office of Buildings Commissioner Harold Birns at 2 p.m.

Four spokesmen for the demonstrators, headed by William Sprowal, chairman of Downtown CORE, briefly discussed their grievances with Birns in his office as the sit-in began.

The spokesmen demanded “immediate” inspection of all complaints, re-inspection of houses before posted violations were lifted, regular area patrols of all slums, and the consolidation of all building inspection agencies into a single city housing department.

Those arrested besides Sprowal were Patricia Newman (pictured holding sign), Marianthe Siderelis, Erskine Keary, Sandra Rodriguez, Kay Reitzen, Richard Redman, Barbara Reiner, and Joan Liftin. All were in their late teens or early twenties. Most gave their address as the Downtown CORE headquarters, 64-66 Delancey St.

Judge Herbert Sorin released two 18-year-olds on parole. He ordered the others held on $500 bond or $25 cash bail each, and they were released after payment.

Hearings were set for all nine on June 3 in Criminal Court.

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