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Reinhold Niebuhr, visiting professor of Theology, has appealed for widespread support for Charles McDew, the 22-year old chairman of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee who faces a charge of criminal anarchy for anti-segregation activities in Baton Rouge, La.
In a telegram sent to 40 civic leaders last Friday, Niebuhr called for protests against McDew's arrest. Besides Niebuhr, signers of the telegram were A. Philip Randolph, president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters; James Farmer, national director of CORE; Roy Wilkins, executive director of the NAACP; and Whitney Young, executive director of the Urban League.
McDew and Robert Zellner, a SNCC field representative, were arrested Feb. 17 when they visited another SNCC worker in the Baton Rouge Jail. They were first charged with vagrancy, Niebuhr explained, but when they showed police that they carried more than $100 between them, the criminal anarchy charge was substituted.
Yesterday Niebuhr called the stiff charge against McDew and Zeller "the most outrageous thing I've ever heard."
The pair are now free on $7,000 bail apiece, which was supplied by a civil rights goup in Nashville, Tenn., and will be tried by a Louisiana State court judge next week. If convicted, they can be sentenced to ten years hard labor and must remain in jail while their appeal moves through the courts.
Assistant Attorney General Burko Marshall said recently that the Justice Department is investigating the case but probably cannot intervene until it reaches federal courts on appeal.
McDew spoke at Harvard in early December about a SNCC drive to register Negro voters in Mississippi. Students here contributed $1300 for the project
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