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Negro Demonstrators Attacked in St. Augustine, 19 Hospitalized

June 25, 1964 - A white mob of about 800 ran wild in St. Augustine, Fla., tonight and smashed a Negro demonstration.

Nineteen Negroes were hospitalized, and many others suffered minor injuries.

At first, the local police made efforts to check violence against Negro demonstrators, but they then stood aside. (Pictured top, Dr. Martin Luther King calls Washington requesting help from U.S. Marshals.)

After seizing five white hoodlums who had been attacking Negroes with clubs, the police responded to shouts of “Turn them loose!” from the hundreds of onlookers and did so.

Most of the mob came from a rally conducted by the Rev. Connie Lynch (pictured bottom), a Californian who has been agitating every night for the local white community to turn on Negroes and integrationists.

The club-wielding whites attacked the vanguard of an integrationist parade of several hundred Negroes with flailing clubs and pounding fists.

The marchers, in turn, fought back and injured three whites, who were taken away in an ambulance. Earlier, Dr. Martin Luther King spoke to a gathering in a local Baptist church.

“We are at the most difficult moment,” he said. “We must remain calm and not let them provoke us into violence.”

Speaking in his temporary quarters here, Dr. King said, “This is a reign of terror that can’t be stopped short of intervention by the Federal Government.”

He said he felt duty-bound to call President Johnson and ask for Federal marshals.

“I think Federal marshals can do it, but if that doesn’t solve the problem then the Federal Government will be compelled to consider the drastic step of sending Federal troops,” Dr. King declared.

After the melee, Dr. King said he had spoken by telephone with Burke Marshall, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Civil Rights division in Washington.

Dr. King said he had requested that the Justice Department send Federal marshals to St. Augustine and had received a “noncommittal answer.”

A number of Negro women had their clothes torn off while they were being clawed and beaten by screaming terrorists.

In one instance, a representative of a national news magazine attempted to protect a 13-year-old girl who was trembling and seeking shelter in a row of bushes. Her dress had been ripped away, and blood was running from a bruise on her shoulder.

“Let that gorilla go!” shouted three white rioters who tried to seize the girl from the correspondent.

“Run!” the newsman shouted at the girl. She darted away as he blocked the path of her pursuers and was kicked in the stomach and trampled. He asked that his name be withheld.

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