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A Typical Week in Mississippi: COFO Hears of Many Incidents

notes from Mississippi

By Peter Cummings

The telephone at 1017 Lynch St., Jackson, Mississippi, receives calls 24 hours a day. Here the headquarters of the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO) keeps in touch with its "freedom workers" throughout the state. Daily event summaries are mimeo'd in the office and sent out to all project members. Arrests, bombings, and beatings which are not printed by the local and national press are thus reported to those who are, COFO says, "on the front-lines."

Here is a summary of the events recorded in one week in Mississippi:

Monday, Sept. 28

Gulfport: Sandy Leigh, Gulfport COFO director charged with "contributing to the delinquency of a minor" and released on $250 bond. Later arrested for "drunken driving" and "driving without a license."

Biloxi: Mrs. Green, a Negro resident of nearby Ocean Springs, beaten by whites at a circus here. Her 15-year-old son also beaten. When she brought police to the scene, warned to drop the matter or face possible arrest. NAACP investigating the incident.

Ruleville: Bomb threat received by local Negro woman, active in voter registration.

Tuesday, Sept. 29

Batesville: Sam Echols, local Negro voter registration worker, arrested for perjury, tried, and sentenced. Now awaiting transfer to Parchman State Farm. Had filled out a voter registration form last month and stated in the form that he had never committed a crime. A year ago, however, was arrested for possession of liquor. Echols said he didn't know that was a crime. Lawyers are work on the case.

Columbus: COFO volunteer Clifford Trice fined $50 in court today, plus costs of $41.50.

Jackson: A caller threatened to "kill everyone in the COFO office" and "slit the President's throat." FBI notified.

Ruleville: 9:00 p.m. curfew placed on the country by Sheriff William I. Hollowell. The ban enforced in Indianola by white men with clubs and revolvers, who drove Negroes off the streets.

Wednesday, Sept. 30

Greenwood: Thomas Power, white COFO worker from Milwaukee, arrested for "reckless driving." Released on $50 bond.

Aberdeen: Two delegates from the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) to the Democratic Convention in Atlantic City, James Carr and Cora Smith, served with summonses by the local Sheriff. They are to appear in Hinds County Court on Oct. 26 "to answer a bill of complaint" against them "by the state of Mississippi."

Tchula: Similar summons served

This is the first article in a continuing series pertaining to the civil rights movement in Mississippi. Mr. Cummings spent the past summer on a Council of Federated Organizations project in Holly Springs, Miss. on Hartman Turnbow, also an MFDP delegate to Atlanta City. Turnbow, a local Negro farmer, has been a leading MFDP organizer in Holmes County.

Hernando: Samuel Williams, the only registered Negro voter in this town, refused a certificate of voting status at the court house. The clerk threatened Williams' life.

Thursday, Oct. 1

Tupelo: COFO staff evicted from its office.

Shaw: School reopened here after being closed due to a boycott. Two Negro students who joined in the boycott denied re-admission.

Indianola: A Negro woman lost her job as a cook in the local high school. Her son arrested four days later in a voter registration drive.

Vicksburg: Local Negro woman, not associated with COFO, reports that 13 shots were fired into her house last Sunday.

Tchula: COFO staff member arrested for carrying a concealed weapon, a bread knife. Car impounded. Police have set up road blocks and are interrogating people who attend local COFO community center.

McComb: Three white men arrested and charged with at least two recent bombings.

Greenwood: MFDP delegates Dewey Green and Mary Lane, given summonses to appear in court on Oct. 26. Some speculation that all 68 MFDP delegates may be charged with contempt of court for having disobeyed an earlier court order which enjoined the MFDP from functioning.

Friday, Oct. 2

Jackson: Six policemen enter the COFO headquarters with a warrant made out for the arrest of "him." Finally leave after looking around the office. No arrests made.

McComb: A fourth white man arrested in connection with 11 bombings of Negro homes and churches.

Saturday, Oct. 3

Leake County: Theodis Hewitt, Leake City COFO director, arrested for speeding and reckless driving.

Belzoni: Ellis Jackson, local COFO director, arrested when he went to investigate the beating of a Negro boy. Charged with disturbing the peace and refusing to obey an officer.

Marks: Klondike Albert, 19-years-old, attacked by three whites while walking to an MFDP rally. Beaten with a blackjack and a stick and cut severely in the arm; shoulder probably fractured. When local hospital refused treatment, taken to Clarksdale.

As Willie Thomas walked home from the same rally, shots fired at him from a '57 Chevy. Two other Negroes threatened by whites with guns.

Chief Deputy Sheriff Sanford Fowler came to the COFO office and grabbed and shook local SNCC worker, Samuel Jackson.

A carload of white men attempt to run down four local Negro boys.

Hattiesurg: Rev. Robert Beach, part of COFO's ministers' project, assaulted by a white hardware store owner.

Philadelphia: Sheriff Lawrence

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