From the Archives: Dozens Hurt During March in Chicago
Dr. Martin Luther King was struck on the head by a rock Friday at the beginning of a march by 800 Negro and white civil rights demonstrators through a surging, screaming mob of whites into the all-white Southwest Side neighborhood of Gage Park.
He was knocked to the ground but not seriously injured by the stone, thrown from a short distance by a burly white man who rushed at the rights leader as he left a car in Marquette Park, where the marchers assembled. Dr. King was struck just below the right ear.
Also struck by a rock was Albert Raby, head of the Coordinating Council of Community Organizations, the leading Chicago civil rights federation. Raby was struck in the back. He said he was not seriously injured.
Dozen Others Injured
Southside hospitals reported Friday night that they had treated a dozen other injured persons, including two policemen. Reporters on the scene noted at least a score of persons with minor injuries ranging from bumps and cuts to head wounds suffered when police lunged into the mobs with nightsticks swinging.
Dozens of persons were arrested by police and taken away in vans.
More marches are scheduled Sunday and next week in other neighborhoods, Dr. King said later.
A crowd of about 2,000 whites was on hand when Dr. King arrived in Marquette Park to begin Friday’s march. The whites had gathered an hour before his arrival to jeer and taunt rights demonstrators who were sitting in a tight circle in the middle of the park waiting for Dr. King.
Throughout the afternoon there were occasional pitched battles between gangs of white youths and the police, and the crowd surged through the park and up and down neighborhood streets throwing stones and screaming.
1,000 Police at Scene
More than 1,000 helmeted policemen were assigned to the demonstration. They formed a solid cordon around the marchers during the demonstration.
The march, aimed at the F. H. Halvorsen Real Estate Co. on 63rd St. at Kedzie Ave., covered the same route taken by demonstaters last Sunday when 60 persons were injured and 30 cars were damaged or burned by the howling white crowds in an afternoon of almost uncontrolled terrorism.
Friday’s march was led by Dr. King, Raby, the Rev. James Bevel and the Rev. Jesse Jackson. Mr. Bevel and Mr. Jackson are two of Dr. King’s top aides in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Other demonstrators included a number of clergymen, Catholic priests, nuns and students. About half of the demonstrators were white and about half Negro.
Neighborhood whites followed the marchers, jeering, cursing and throwing stones, bottles and cherry bombs.
Police had swept through the neighborhood before the march started, confiscating cherry bombs from youths and adults. But dozens of the firecrackers were thrown at the marchers during their demonstration.
At the real estate office chosen by Dr. King as a symbol of area firms which refuse to sell or rent housing to Negroes, the main march column following Dr. King was joined by three smaller groups which had picketed other area firms earlier Friday.
Sing and Pray
In the middle of the street, Dr. King and the demonstrators knelt and prayed for several minutes. They sang a freedom song which was drowned out by the roar of the white crowd surrounding them. By this time the white mob was estimated by police at about 3,000 persons.
Dr. King said, “This is a terrible thing. I have been in the civil rights movement for many years all through the South, but I have never seen — not even in Alabama or Louisiana — mobs as hostile and hateful as this crowd.”
At the beginning of the march, the white mob was mostly youthful, but after 5 p.m. it became predominantly adult and mostly male. By the time the demonstrators returned to Marquette Park to board buses which took them to a freedom rally in a Negro church, police said the white crowds had grown to 5,000 to 6,000 persons.
In the park, as the demonstrators boarded the buses, the crowd tossed a few rocks and many cherry bombs and continued its outpouring of curses and obscenities. At one point, as the demonstrators were boarding the buses, one person threw a small snake at them.
It was here that the greatest number of arrests were made, as segments of the mob ripped into police lines in forays, rocked automobiles parked nearby and attacked one television news crew.
Police bludgeoned a number of whites into silence, and one police van was filled with men covered with blood. Each time the police opened the van door to push another man inside, the bloody crowd inside would try to escape, and there were several battles of fists and billy clubs before the van finally pulled away, its back door splotched with bloody handprints.
Throughout the march, every time a cherry bomb exploded or a rock was tossed, huge roars went up from the crowd and every time another person was arrested the air was filled with boos and cries of police brutality.
“Kill them. Kill them!”
A frantic woman beat on a reporter’s back with the flat of her hand crying: “Get King! Kill him!”
The mob also aimed much of its hatred at priests and nuns in the line of march, including Sister Mary Angelica, a young Franciscan nun who was injured in last Sunday’s melee.
Before the march began, the neighborhood was swept by groups of teenagers in cars carrying “White Power” signs and signs promoting the Presidential candidacy of Alabama Gov. George C. Wallace.
One group of teen-agers was mounted on 14 motorcycles decorated with Confederate flags and painted with anti-Negro hate signs.
As Dr. King began the march out of Marquette Park, he was faced by a huge crowd of whites led by two youths, one bearing an American Flag and the other a Confederate flag. Both flags were mounted on long bamboo poles. This pair led the white mob throughout the march route.
At two different intersections, crowds of 300 to 400 teen-agers staged sit-downs in an attempt to stop the march, but both times Lt. Thomas Hayes, who is in charge of the police human relations division, charged into the sitting crowds with club swinging and feet flying.
Hayes, a tall, thin man with gray hair who was appointed to his human relations post only four days ago, said later: “I am supposed to be persuading people in the neighborhoods to cooperate with the police and to prepare them for real integration. The last four days have not been a good time to start. I have been marching every day and breaking up mobs. It is rough.”
Among carefully painted signs carried by the mob were several reading: “The only way to stop niggers is to exterminate them,” “Get red King out of here,” “Be allert (sic). Foreign agents and foreign groups are in action.”
At the New Friendship Baptist Church, where the demonstrators held a rally after the march, Dr. King said the demonstration had been a “success. We intended to go over there to bring the evil out in the open and it came out in the open. We shall march again, this weekend and next week, and we shall keep marching until we find justice in this city.”
The basic aim of his demonstrations at this point is to break the segregated housing pattern in the city. He is meeting increasing resistance in several parts of the city. Friday was the fifth day in a week to see a hostile white mob menace rights demonstrators in one area of the city or another.