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Prayer March in Birmingham Develops Into Violence

Apr. 7, 1963 - An attempted peaceful prayer march on City Hall in Birmingham, Alabama developed into violence this afternoon. When police with dogs attempted to clear several hundred Negro onlookers from a small park where the march had been stopped, a Negro man — not one of the marchers — reportedly slashed at one of the police dogs with a large knife. The dog immediately attacked, and there was a rush of other Negroes toward the spot where the dog had pinned the man to the ground. Policemen with two more dogs and other policemen in the area quickly rushed against the crowd, swinging clubs. The prayer marchers were led by the Rev. A.D. King, younger brother of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who came to Birmingham from Atlanta Wednesday to lead the campaign. Dr. King himself was not among the marchers. The police said 26 Negroes were arrested. They will be arraigned tomorrow. The man who allegedly slashed at the dog apparently was not bitten, but the left sleeve of his coat was torn. As the arrests were being made, another slightly built, lame Negro, who appeared to be under the influence of alcohol, was grabbed by a policeman who knew him and hustled him across the street. “You go on home now, Billy,” the policeman was overheard to say to him. “You don’t want to get mixed up in this.”


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