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Hundreds Demonstrate in Birmingham

May 2, 1963 - Hundreds of young Negroes, many of them in their teens or younger, demonstrated through the streets of Birmingham, Alabama this afternoon. About 800 were arrested after hours of demonstrations against the city’s segregation practices. There was no resistance to arrest by the laughing, singing groups of youngsters, although some of the smaller participants dropped their signs and ran when the police approached. Most of the marchers fell to their knees and prayed as the police stopped them. Half a dozen fire engines were deployed at a strategic corner after the first hour of demonstrations. Hoses were strung at one point, but the water was not turned on. The city’s squad of police dogs was not used. Every available police vehicle was pressed into service to haul the young demonstrators to jail or juvenile court. When even those and some Jefferson County sheriff’s cars proved inadequate, school buses were used by the police. One little girl who said she was six years old was seen being placed in a police wagon with other demonstrators. What happened to her is not known. The jail receives only prisoners 18 or older; younger prisoners are under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court, which does not disclose its proceedings. City School Superintendent Theo Wright said all juveniles over 16 would be expelled for participating in the demonstrations. “It has always been the policy to discipline all students who stay out or leave school without authorization,” he said. He said the ones under 16 would be punished for truancy. Local sources noted that parents of teenage children arrested today could be technically charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. That is a felony punishable by a long jail term.

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