The Wide Area Telephone Service (WATS) was the basic communication tool of the movement. Projects called in incident reports on a daily basis, which were compiled in a running commentary on the ongoing violence and intimidation. Page 97 provides a snapshot of the violence in a typical day. My arrest as a poll watcher in the ASCS election, along with other civil rights workers, is noted on page 98.
INCIDENT SUMMARY NOVEMBER 28
NATCHEZ: Six Negro high school students successfully integrate lunch counter at the S. S. Kress department store. A participant reports: "We walk into the lunch counter and take a seat. At first the waitress overlooked us, then she made a phone call, maybe to the manager, then she came over and waited on us. She came back with hamburgers we ordered. Two of them had no meat so we asked for the meat and she gave it to us. We ate our hamburgers and left. Several whites observed the sitin, but made no trouble. One was heard to say: "if I had a baseball bat I'd break all of your legs."
CAMDEN: Cleota Lucky, a local man, shot at from a car by an unknown white while canvassing for the Agrucultural Stabilization and Conservation Service (ASCS) elections.
MARKS: Bobby Phipps, 11 year old local youth active with the COFO operation, attacked and beaten while walking to the COFO office. Three white teen-agers driving a 1963 black and white Chevrolet stop Phipps and curse at him. Two hold him while a third hits him on the head with a pop bottle. The marks COFO office reports Phipps is unharmed.
NATCHEZ: SNCC worker Chico Neblett and six Negro high school students denied service by manager Clarence Eyrich at the coffee shop of the Eola Hotel in a sit-in attempt. Three other students, accompanied by Charles Price, Negro volunteer from Chicago, ordered out of the public library.
HOLLY SPRINGS: Six student volunteers from Antioch College arrive to aid the COFO workers in conducting the ASCS elections.
JACKSON: A Jackson COFO worker, recently released from the University Medical Center, reports that a Negro youth has been laying unconscious for two weeks, following a police beating.
MOSS POINT: Four spokesmen from the Negro community tell the manager at Dann's Food Town that the community is disturbed because there is no Negro cashier at the score. When the manager claims there is not enough business to justify hiring a Negro cashier, he is told that if one is not hired, business will fall off "for sure."
VALLEY VIEW: A mass meeting to explain the ASCS election was cancelled when the owner of the Moonlight Inn, site of the meeting, padlocked the door. The owner explained that the police arrested one of his employees last week for possession of illegal liquor and fined him $307.00. He said police later threatened him with a $1000 fine.
NATCHEZ: Chico Neblett and several high school students served at the lunch counter of the S. S. Kress department store. They were harassed
[p. 97]by local whites while eating and were later followed across town by police.
HOLLY SPRINGS: Stan Boyd a white volunteer from Antioch College, arrested for speeding and fined $31.60. He reports he was traveling under the posted speed limit.
MERIDIAN: An aide of Oregon Senator Marine B. Neuberger calls the project to inquire about the condition of Sandy Watts, arrested Nov. 27 for allegedly recieving a stolen record player. Miss Watts, a 22 year old volunteer from Lakeview, Oregon, enters her fourth day of her hunger strike, protesting against the "vicious, unjust harassment and phoney charges."
STARKVILLE: COFO workers Bill Light, white worker from California; Ronald Carver, white volunteer from Nahant, Mass.; Jimmie Lee Jones, Negro worker; Liz Fusco, white worker from Seattle, Wash.; and Sandra Bray, local worker, stopped by highway patrol on a dirt road outside of Starkville as they are leaving a Negro cafe in their truck. Patrolman Floyd Williams tickets Light for faulty lights and failing to stop before entering a highway. Williams observes the door of the truck doesn't open from the outside and comments "what would happen if you had an accident and coundn't get out." Carver informs him that the door opens from the inside and Williams responds, "you're under arrest for interfering with an officer."
After inspecting the back of the truck, where Jones and Carver are riding, Williams slams the door three times on Jones's arm. Jones reported unharmed. Carver freed after a lecture.
Officer Williams follows the truck and stops them again in front of the men's dorms of Mississippi State University, claims Light gave him the wrong year of the truck and failed to give him the motor number. Williams then informs a large group of men students, gathering at the scene, that Light and others are COFO workers. Students jeer and curse at the group. Williams opens the back of the truck, shines his flashlight on Jones, saying "there's Martin Luther King right there." Talking to Carver and Jones, but addressing his remarks to the mob, Williams says "how would we notify your mother if we found you dead tomorrow morning?" The truck allowed to proceed, followed back to Starkville city limits.
MERIDIAN: Eight high school students--members of the Mississippi Student Union--accompanied by white COFO workers Freeman Cocroft and Lucien Kabat, arrested at the Toddle House, a previously integrated restaurant. As the group sat down in the cafe, they notice a hostile group of young whites beginning to gather. They leave the cafe for the near-by Trailways bus station to phone COFO and are arrested and charged with "disorderly conduct." Cocroft additionally charged with "trespassing." Police refuse to give names of the arrested to the COFO office.
JACKSON: FBI informs Jane Adams, coordinator for COFO's participation in tomorrow's ASCS election, that agents cannot be stationed at polling places to insure fair running of the federally controlled election.
COFO AIDS NEGRO FARMERS IN 12 COUNTIES IN RUNNING CANDIDATES IN THE FEDERALLY SPONSORED "COTTON VOTE" POLICE AND CIVILIAN HARASSMENT MARK TODAYS ELECTION TO COUNTY CROP AND ACREAGE ALLOTMENT COMMITTEES
JACKSON: Jane Adams, COFO Federal Programs Coordinator, explains that recent directives from Washington and the State Supervisor of the ASCS elections makes it possible for Negroes to participate in the elections. The directive from Washington, following COFO charges of discrimination in past elections, states that the election is open to anyone who thinks themself eligible, eligibility to be verified later. The State Supervisor has ruled that a voter may ask the aid of anyone to help him fill out the ballot. COFO workers will aid local farmers in poll watching in four counties where voting will be done in polling places.
HOLLY SPRINGS: James Bates, local 19 year old, arrested while having his car checked at a garage. Bates has been stopped several times in the last few days while canvassing for todays's election. Deputy sheriff Roach stated that Bates was being held on "four or five charges" one of which may be "false pretenses." Frank Cieciouka, white volunteer from San Jose, Calif., goes to the jail to inquire about Bates and is arrested for "impersonating a lawyer."
Stan Boyd, white volunteer from Antioch College, arrested for "illegal parkings." Larry Rubin, white volunteer from Philadelphia, Pa., arrested while returning Boyd's car to the COFO office. Charged with having "improper lights."
Charges against Frank Cieciorka dropped.
CANTON: Bill Forsyth, Bill Ware, Madeline McHugh and Tom Ramsey, COFO poll watchers, ejected from polling place.
Bill Forsyth roughed up by a highway patrolman while talking to a Negro man outside a polling place.
Marvin Rich, white COFO worker from New York, approached by former governor Ross Barnett, who asks, "are you a white man?" As Barnett moves away, nine or ten young whites throw rocks at Rich as a deputy sheriff looks on.
Rich later tries to enter a polling place to determine the vote count and is attacked and beaten by two whites, one with a belt buckle and one with his fists. Rich's nose is nearly broken.
Elaine De Lott, 22 year old white COFO worker from Radcliffe College, is ejected from a polling place and arrested. Police are holding her for "investigation."
Eartiss Crawford, attempting to replace Miss De Lott as poll watcher, ejected from polling place by an armed white man who threatens to blow his brains out.
George Raymond, Negro project Director of the Canton COFO project, arrested while poll watching and charged with "trespassing." In jail the bearded Raymond is attacked by two officers and a local white who pin him to the ground and dry shave his beard.
FLORA: Ann Darden, white volunteer from New Orleans, arrested while poll watching and charged with "interfering with an officer."
Evester Simpson, a Tougaloo College student, arrested while poll watching and held for "investigation."