Three white men were arrested in McComb, Miss., yesterday, and charged with two racial bombings. The arrests were made by Federal, state, and local authorities.
McComb police chief George Guy said last night, "We know these three men did two of the bombings and I think maybe more.... But I don't think they're guilty of all of them."
There is a definite possibility that others may be arrested soon, Guy said.
Sheriff R.R. Warren of Pike County explained that one of the arrested men, Paul Wilson, "finally broke down and told us a little bit of what had happened. He implicated the other two."
J.D. Smith, McComb voter registration worker, said that the arrest had envoked "rampant enthusiasm from the Negro community."
But Smith felt that the arrests were no cause for optimism. "I think the physical danger remains basically the same," he said. "We'll wait to see what indictments are returned against these men."
The thre arrests may bring some relaxation of the tense situation in this southwest Mississippi town. Since Aug. 28, 11 bombings have damaged homes and churches belonging to Negroes active in the local voter registration drive.
Three week ago, McComb COFO director Jesse Harris wrote a detailed letter to Burke Marshall, Assistant Attorney General for civil rights.
Harris's letter read in part, "The situation which is developing in Pike County resembles that which...culminated in the murders of three civil rights workers in Philadelphia...We plead with you to take action..."
Last week four bombings, the arrest of over 50 local Negroes, and a massive influx of state police brought tensions to a peak. Sixteen local Negroes are still in jail under charges of criminal syndicalism.
Shortly afterwards, President Johnson met with Mrs. Willie Dillon, Mrs. Aleyne Quinn, and Mrs. Charles C. Bryant of McComb. The homes of all three have been recently bombed.
Three days ago members of the white community voiced their fears. A large ad in McComb's weekly newspaper began, "We are no longer dealing with the question of segregation. We are faced with the possibility that the life of this community is at stake."
The ad went on to offer a $5000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the bombers. Signers of the ad included the McComb Chamber of Commerce, the Lions Club, the Rotary Club, and the Jaycee's.
Pike County has been a center of racist violence for the past few years. Both the Ku Klux Klan and the Americans for the Preservation for the White Race have been widely organized in that area.
At least one of the arrested men, Paul Wilson, possessed membership cards in both of these organizations. In Wilson's home officials also found four rifles, a pistol, thousands of rounds of ammunition, eight clubs, a blackjack, brass knuckles, a deputy sheriff's badge, and a black leatherette hood