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Miss. Laws Would Harass Rights Cause

By Steven V. Roberts

The Mississippi Legislature continues to forge legal weapons designed to combat restive civil rights forces in general, and the Summer Project of the Conference of Federated Organizations (COFO) in particular.

Last week the Legislature received a proposal which would sanction the sterilization of any person convicted three times as a felon. It is also considering a bill that would permit the sterilization of any woman bearing two illegitimate children.

The Legislature is still debating a proposal requiring all schools in the state to be licensed by a county superintendent of education, according to Robert Well, a COFO spokesman in Jackson, Miss.

Would Cripple Freedom Schools

There is little doubt that the licensing bill is an attempt to eripple COFO's plan to establish a network of freedom schools throughout the state this summer.

The schools will be staffed by some of the more than one thousand Northern students expected to join COFO's Summer Project. Other students will work in voter registration campaigns, community centers, and research projects on the social and political structure of Mississippi.

At present the fate of the licousing bill is uncertain, since it was introduced by a state senator not highly regarded by his colleagues, Well said.

He noted that several other proposals recently encountered severe opposition in the Legislature before being passed. One bill, which gave Gov. Paul Johnson the power to send troopers anywhere in the state without asking local permission, was opposed as abrogating the autonomy of local officials.

Another recent bill permits the transfer of local and county prisoners to the state penitentiary at Parchman, re-known as one of the roughest prisons in the country.

Although local officials must be consulted before prisoners are transferred, the bill was opposed because it also fostered the growth of "central control" in the state, Well said.

In recent weeks the Legislature passed with a minimum of dissent five other bills observers believe will be used in the harassment of civil rights workers this summer. The bills:

* Prohibit the picketing of state buildings, court houses, public streets, sidewalks, and other public places.

* empower cities to make curfew laws and other regulations to restrain the movements of individuals or groups.

* authorize municipalities to pool men and equipment in order to combat riots and other civil disturbances.

* permit the increase of penalties levied for violation of city ordinances.

* outlaw the printing or circulation of matter which interferes with a person's ability to exercise a trade or calling.

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