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Dick Gregory Manhandled in Mississippi

Apr. 2, 1963 - In Greenwood, Mississippi today, a policeman twisted the left arm of comedian Dick Gregory and hustled him across the street when he and 15 other Negroes ignored a command to disperse. Mr. Gregory was released at once by police officials. They apparently wanted to avoid the controversy his arrest would have aroused. The incident took place shortly before noon, as roughly 40 Negroes marched away by twos from the Leflore County Courthouse after a handful had applied for voter registration. Chief of Police Curtis Lary repeatedly ordered them and white bystanders to break up into smaller groups. As a voter registration worker argued with Chief Lary, Mr. Gregory nodded toward the police and told newsmen, “There’s your story — guns and sticks for old women who want to register.” “Look at them,” he went on, “a bunch of illiterate whites who couldn’t even pass the test themselves. That’s what you see, guns and sticks in America.” The policemen gave no indication they had heard Mr. Gregory’s challenge to their ability to pass the literacy tests required of prospective voters in Mississippi.

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