One Black Couple Heed Protest, Will Leave Philadelphia Home
Despite a city offer of special police protection and support from civic and church leaders, a black couple decided to leave their predominantly white neighborhood after hundreds of protesters demanded that they “beat it,” officials said Monday.
Charles Williams and his wife, Marietta Bloxom, could not be reached Monday to be interviewed about their plans, which they reportedly disclosed to city officials on Friday. The couple previously refused requests for interviews.
Last Wednesday, about 400 white demonstrators chanting, “We want them out!” and, “Beat it!” gathered outside the southwest Philadelphia row house into which the couple and their 7-year-old daughter moved early this month.
Ron Veltman, a Veterans Administration loan guaranty officer, said Monday that Williams told him Friday that they wanted to move out.
“It’s crazy, totally crazy,” Williams told the Philadelphia Daily News on Sunday. “Right now, I don’t have the time to discuss it. When the time comes, I will.”
NAACP and City Support
O. G. Christian, a local official of the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People, said Williams told Mayor W. Wilson Goode on Friday of his intention to move. Christian said Goode urged Williams to stay and offered the family around-the-clock police protection.
Repeated attempts to contact Williams and his family by telephone Monday were unsuccessful; their phone apparently had been taken off the hook.
Goode’s press secretary, Karen Warrington, did not return repeated calls.
Meanwhile, an interracial couple whose house was the scene of a demonstration by about 200 angry whites Thursday night vowed to stay.
Monday was the fourth day of calm in the neighborhood, which is under an emergency declaration issued Friday by Goode. Following two nights of demonstrations, the mayor banned gatherings of more than four persons except for religious or recreational purposes.
Bennie Swans, head of a city-sponsored group that is working to ease tensions in the neighborhood, said some of the white residents regret the situation.
Support From Some Whites
“I think some guilt is beginning to set in, and appropriately so,” said Swans, who heads the Crisis Intervention Network. “People are beginning to make overtures to help the family feel comfort during this very strained time, and that, I think, is positive.”
At the other home that was a target of demonstrations last week, Carol Fox, who is white, said she and her black husband, Gerald, have no plans to leave.
“We just bought this house and it is in no condition to sell. Where are we going to go? Besides, why should we move?” she said.
“If they don’t like us, fine. Don’t talk to us. That’s OK. We bought this house, so we’re here to stay.”