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Hundreds of Negro Demonstrators Arrested in Gadsden, Ala.

June 18, 1963 - More than 450 Negroes, many of them children, were arrested today in Gadsden, Alabama as they defied an injunction against sit-down demonstrations. Sheriff’s deputies used electric cattle prods to drive them to jail. More than 200 of the demonstrators were arrested at a downtown variety store, where they had laid down in the aisles and on the sidewalk in front. They offered no resistance and were hauled in patrol wagons to the Etowah County jail. There, more than 250 more gathered and lay down on the lawn and the street in front of the county courthouse. Sheriff Dewey Colvard, leading a force of deputies, city policemen, and Civil Defense volunteers, called over a loudspeaker: “Your attention, please. All of you are under arrest.” A line of officers moved in, some using the cattle prods. Part of the crowd ran toward the jail, and several were trampled. Others who withstood the electric shocks were clubbed and dragged into the building. “It was brutal as hell,” said one local law enforcement official who requested anonymity. “There was no need to club those people.” Asked about Negro charges of brutality, Col. Albert Lingo, commander of the state patrol, replied: “I can’t help it if these people [the Negroes] ran into each other.” The prisoners overflowed the bullpen and corridors of the county jail. Hasty preparations were being made to transfer many to the city jail and the county prison farm. Those under 14 were taken before Judge A.B. Cunningham, who asked them to refrain from further demonstrations. Youngsters replied that they would not. The judge urged them to stay off the streets tomorrow. They said they would be there. He released them anyway.


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