William W. Hodes '66, a SNCC volunteer working in Greenwood, Miss., was arrested for disorderly conduct, Saturday, beaten in a rather offhand manner by the local police, and released later that day on $100 bond.
The Harvard junior described it as a typical harrassment arrest. The case has been removed to a federal court and will probably eventually find its way to the 5th District Court in New Orleans, La. Hodes said that because of the tremendous backlog of cases, his case is not likely to come up for years.
Hodes and several other civil rights workers were distributing registration formed in the main Negro marketplace in Greenwood. The square is at the edge of the white district, and a crowd of whites formed across the street to jeer.
When the crowd started to disperse, and Hodes started back toward the SNCC headquarters in the Negro section, a police car pulled up and five officers emerged. They accused Hodes of creating the disturbance and warned him not to do it again.
At this point, Hodes said, a white store owner rushed out on the street, pointed at him and began yelling that he was "an agitator." The police then arrested Hodes, though they did not tell him what the charge was. Several of them bit him in the ribs with their billy clubs, and one police officer stabbed Hodes in the leg with his own SNCC button, the Harvard junior reported last night; "you know," Hodes said, "kid stuff."
Hodes said that similar incidents have been occurring in Greenwood quite regularly. John Handy, a local Negro, was arrested the same day and beaten more severely than Hodes. He was also released on bond. A female COFO worker was arrested Sunday on a charge of assault and battery with a deadly weapon. Four hours later the charge was dropped.
Tension is mounting in the Mississippi community, Hodes said, particularly as the local Negro youths are anxious to engage in direct forms of; protest. SNCC officials are trying to channel their energies into the voter registration program.
The local police and "rednecks" are also beginning to respond to the various SNCC programs. Hodes said. He described the community as "as tense as a compressed spring. There will probably be some more shooting during the night."