the day after this picture was taken
the following article appeared
in the new york times
Use Gas and Clubs
to Rout Negroes
57 Are Injured at Selma as Troopers Break up
DR. KING IS IN ATLANTA
He Reveals Plans to Lead a New March Tomorrow - Court Action Planned
By Roy Reed
Special to The New York Times
elma, Ala., March 7  - Alabama state
troopers and volunteer officers of the Dallas County sheriff's office tore
through a column of Negro demonstrators with tear gas, nightsticks and
whips here today to enforce Gov. George C. Wallace's order against a
protest march from Selma to Montgomery.
At least 17 Negroes were hospitalized with injuries and about 40 more
were given emergency treatment for minor injuries and tear gas effects.
The Negroes reportedly fought back with bricks and bottles at one point
as they were pushed back into the Negro community, far away from most of a
squad of reporters and photographers who had been restrained by the
A witness said that Sheriff James G. Clark and a handful of volunteer
possemen were pushed back by flying debris when they tried to herd the
angry Negroes into the church where the march had begun.
[In Washington the Justice Department announced that agents of the
Federal Bureau of Investigation in Selma had been directed to make a full
and prompt investigation and to gather evidence whether "unnecessary
force was used by law officers and others" in halting the march.]
Dr. King in Atlanta
Some 200 troopers and possemen with riot guns, pistols, tear gas bombs
and nightsticks later chased all the Negro residents of the Browns Chapel
Methodist Church area into their apartments and houses. They then
patrolled the streets and walks for an hour before driving away.
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who was to have led the march, was
in Atlanta. After the attack on the marchers, Dr. King issued a statement
announcing plans to begin another march Tuesday covering the 50 miles from
Selma to Montgomery. He said he had agreed not to lead today's march after
he had learned that the troopers would block it. Dr. King also said he
would seek a court order barring further interference with the marchers.
John Lewis, chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee,
was among the injured. He was admitted to the Good Samaritan Hospital with
a possible skull fracture.
Mr. Lewis and Hosea Williams, an aide to Dr. King, led the marchers
back to the church after the encounter with the officers. Mr. Lewis,
before going to the hospital, made a speech to the crowd huddled angry and
weeping in the sanctuary.
Troops are Sought
"I don't see how President Johnson can send troops to Vietnam - I
don't see how he can send troops to the Congo - I don't see how he can
send troops to Africa and can't end troops to Selma, Ala.," he said.
The Negroes roared their approval.
"Next time we march," he said, "we may have to keep
going when we get to Montgomery. We may have to go on to Washington."
The suppression of the march, which was called to dramatize the
Negroes' voter-registration drive, was swift and thorough.
About 525 Negroes had left Browns Chapel and walked six blocks to Broad
Street, then across Pettus Bridge and the Alabama River, where a cold wind
cut at their faces and whipped their coats. They were young and old and
they carried an assortment of packs, bedrolls and lunch sacks.
The troopers, more than 50 of them, were waiting 300 yards beyond the
end of the bridge.
Behind and around the troopers were a few dozen possemen, 15 of them on
horses, and perhaps 100 white spectators. About 50 Negroes stood watching
beside a yellow school bus well away from the troopers. The marchers had
passed about three dozen more possemen at the other end of the bridge.
They were to see more of that group.
The troopers stood shoulder to shoulder in a line across both sides of
the divided four-lane highway. They put on gas masks and held their
nightsticks ready as the Negroes approached, marching two abreast, slowly
When the Negroes were 50 feet away, a voice came over an amplifying
system commanding them to stop. They stopped.
The leader of the troopers, who identified himself as Maj. John Cloud
said, "This is an unlawful assembly. Your march is not conclusive to
the public safety. You are ordered to disperse and go back to your church
or to your homes."
Mr. Williams answered from the head of the column.
"May we have a word with the major?" he asked.
"There is no word to be had," the major replied.
The two men went through the same exchange twice more, then the major
said, "You have two minutes to turn around and go back to your
Several seconds went by silently. The Negroes stood unmoving.
The next sound was the major's voice. "Troopers, advance," he
The troopers rushed forward, their blue uniforms and white helmets
blurring into a flying wedge as they moved.
The wedge moved with such force that it seemed almost to pass over the
waiting column instead of through it.
The first 10 or 20 Negroes were swept to the ground screaming, arms and
legs flying and packs and bags went skittering across the grassy divider
strip and on to the pavement on both sides.
Those still on their feet retreated.
The troopers continued pushing, using both the force of their bodies
and the prodding of their nightsticks.
A cheer went up from the white spectators lining the south side of the
The mounted possemen spurred their horses and rode at a run into the
retreating mass. The Negroes cried out as they crowded together for
protection and the whites on the sideline whooped and cheered.
The Negroes paused in their retreat for perhaps a minute still
screaming and huddling together.
Suddenly there was a report, like a gunshot, and a gray cloud spewed
over the troopers and the Negroes.
"Tear gas!" someone yelled.
The cloud began covering the highway. Newsmen, who were confined by
four troopers to a corner 100 yards away, began to lose sight of the
But before the cloud finally hid it all there were several seconds of
unobstructed view. Fifteen or twenty nightsticks could be seen through the
gas flailing at the heads of the marchers.
The Negroes Flee
The Negroes broke and ran. Scores of them streamed across the parking
lot of the Selma Tractor Company. Troopers and possemen, mounted and
unmounted, went after them.
Several more tear gas bombs were set off. One report was heard that
sounded different. A white civil rights worker said later that it was a
shotgun blast and that the pellets tore a hole in the brick wall of a
hamburger stand five feet from him.
After about 10 minutes, most of the Negroes were rounded up. They began
to move toward the city through the smell of the tear gas, coughing and
crying as they stumbled onto Pettus Bridge.
Four or five women still lay on the grass strip where the troopers had
knocked them down. Two troopers passed among them and ordered them to get
up and join the others. The women lay still.
The two men then set off another barrage of tear gas and the women
struggled to their feet, blinded and gasping, and limped across the road.
One was Mrs. Amelia Boynton, one of the Selma leaders of the Negro
movement. She was treated later at the hospital.
Lloyd Russell of Atlanta, a white photographer who had stayed at the
other end of the bridge, said he saw at least four carloads of possemen
overtake the marchers as they re-entered Broad Street. He said the
possemen jumped from the cars and began beating the Negroes with
Two other witnesses said they saw possemen using whips on the fleeing
Negroes as they recrossed the bridge.
The other newsmen were finally allowed to follow the retreat.
Ron Gibson, a reporter for The Birmingham News, reached Browns Chapel
ahead of the other newsmen. He said later that he had seen Sheriff Clark
lead a charge with about half a dozen possemen to try to force the Negroes
from Sylvan Street into the church.
Mr. Gibson said the Negroes fell back momentarily, then surged forward
and began throwing bricks and bottles. He said the officers had to retreat
until reinforcements arrived. One posseman was cut under the eye with a
brick, he said.
Mr. Gibson said that Wilson Baker, Selma's Commissioner of Public
Safety, intervened and persuaded the Negroes to enter the church. He said
Captain Baker held back Sheriff Clark and his possemen, who were
regrouping for another assault.
Mr. Gibson said that Sheriff Clark was struck on the face by a piece of
brick but was not injured.
When the other newsmen arrived, more than 100 possemen were packed into
Sylvan Street a block from the church. They were joined shortly by the troopers, who had been called back to regroup after turning back the
The ground floor of the two-story patronage next to the church was
turned into an emergency hospital for an hour and a half.
Negroes lay on the floors and chairs, many weeping and moaning. A girl
in red slacks was carried from the house screaming. Mrs. Boynton lay
semiconscious on a table. Doctors and nurses threaded feverishly through
the crowd administering first aid and daubing a solution of water and
baking soda on the eyes of those who had been in the worst of the gas.
From the hospital came a report that the victims had suffered fractures
of ribs, heads, arms and legs, in addition to cuts and bruises.
Hundreds of Negroes, including many who had not been on the march,
milled angrily in front of the church.
An old Negro who had just heard that officers had beaten a Negro on his
own porch said to a friend, "I wish the bastard would try to come in
The Negro leaders worked through the crowd urging calm and nonviolence.
At the end of the street the possemen and troopers could be seen
grouping into a formation. The officers left after an hour, and tonight
the Negroes emerged from their houses and poured into Browns Chapel for a
At the meeting Mr. Williams, who was not injured, told the 700 Negroes
present about the plans for the Tuesday march.
"I fought in World War II," Mr. Williams said, "and I
once was captured by the German army, and I want to tell you that the
Germans never were as inhuman as the state troopers of Alabama."