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James Farmer Decries Terrorism in Mississippi

June 27, 1964 - James Farmer charged today that there was complicity on the part of many local officials “in the reign of terror which grips Mississippi.”

“I have reports that the three missing civil rights workers were not released but were turned directly over to a hostile mob by the sheriff of Neshoba County,” the national director of the Congress of Racial Equality said.

“I have other reports that the burned car is a ruse and that the mob, after killing the young men, burned their bodies in the town garbage incinerator,” he said.

These reports, along with other “rumors, pieces of evidence, and contradictions in the statements of law enforcement officers” are being turned over to the FBI for further investigation, Farmer said.

He made his comments at a civil rights vigil on the steps of the Federal Building at Foley Square, two hours after he returned from Mississippi.

Mississippi authorities are taking the position that the disappearance of the three is a “publicity hoax,” Farmer declared. He said Sheriff L.A. Rainey of Neshoba County had told him the missing men were probably “drinking beer in some bar in New York.”

The three, missing since late Sunday night near Philadelphia, Miss., are Michael Schwerner, 24 years old, of Brooklyn; Andrew Goodman, 20, of Queens; and James Chaney, 21, of Meridian, Miss.

Later, Farmer said that President Johnson had told him that he had ordered a number of additional FBI men to Mississippi.

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