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[VIDEO] July 10, 1964 | J. Edgar Hoover Speaks in Mississippi

July 10, 1964 - J. Edgar Hoover, director of the FBI, disclosed today that the bureau’s force in Mississippi had been increased to 153 agents because of the civil rights drive.

This is roughly 10 times the number normally stationed in the state.

Hoover flew to Jackson, Miss., this morning from Washington at President Johnson’s request and opened an FBI field headquarters which covers two full floors of the First Federal Savings and Loan Building.

His disclosure of the bureau’s build-up came at a news conference following the headquarters ceremony, which was attended by Governor Paul Johnson Jr., Mayor Allen C. Thompson (right), and other state and local officials.

Hoover’s aides said that before his return to Washington tomorrow he might visit Philadelphia, Miss., focal point of the continuing search for three civil rights workers missing since June 21.

Hoover said in reply to newsmen’s questions that he thought the three were dead and that “there is, at the present time, no positive indication that there is an imminent break” in the investigation.

“The investigation is intensively being carried on,” he said. “This may be a prolonged effort. But it will be continued until it is solved, until we find the bodies of those three men that have disappeared and the persons who may be responsible for their disappearance.”

The missing men are Michael Schwerner, 24 years old, and Andrew Goodman, 20, both of New York, and James Chaney, 21, of Meridian, Miss.

At his news conference, Hoover emphasized that FBI agents were not in Mississippi to protect civil rights workers but, rather, to investigate violations of Federal law.

“We most certainly do not and will not give protection to civil rights workers,” he declared. “In the first place, the FBI is not a police organization. It is purely an investigative organization.

“The protection of individual citizens, either natives of this state or those coming into the state, is a matter for the local authorities. The FBI will not participate in any such protection.”

Charles Evers, state field secretary of the NAACP, brother of the slain integration leader Medgar Evers, stepped in front of Hoover as the director walked out for his news conference. He introduced himself and said he would like to speak to him. Hoover took him into a conference room and conferred with him for about 10 minutes.

“We wanted to give our side of the picture,” Evers said later.

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