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Fire Hoses Employed at Birmingham Riot

May 7, 1963 - Police and firemen in Birmingham, Alabama, under the direction of Commissioner Eugene (Bull) Connor (pictured), drove hundreds of rioting Negroes off the streets today with high-pressure hoses and an armored car. The riot broke out after 2,500 to 3,000 persons rampaged through the business district in 2 demonstrations and were driven back. The Negroes rained rocks, bottles, and brickbats on the law-enforcement officials as they were slowly forced backward by the water from the hoses. The pressure was so high the water skinned bark off trees in parks and along sidewalks. Policemen from surrounding cities and members of the Alabama Highway Patrol rushed to a nine-block area near the main business district to help quell the riot. A number of persons were injured, including the Rev. Fred L. Shuttlesworth, a Negro leader, two city policemen, and a Jefferson County deputy sheriff. Mr. Shuttlesworth was struck by a stream of water and hurled against the side of a church. Commissioner Connor, who arrived after the minister was driven away, said: “I waited a week to see Shuttlesworth get hit with a hose. I’m sorry I missed it.” A newsman noted that Mr. Shuttlesworth had been carried away in an ambulance. “I wish they’d carried him away in a hearse,” remarked Mr. Connor. He said that several policemen had been injured, adding: “We’ve just started to fight, if that’s what they want. We were trying to be nice to them, but they won’t let us be nice.”


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