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Martin Luther King, Jr. - Arrests

From Benjamin J. Davis

King was arrested in Montgomery on Wednesday morning, 3 September, while trying to enter the courtroom at the hearing of Edward Davis, a man accused of attacking Ralph Abernathy.1 King was charged with loitering after refusing to obey a request from police to “move on.” Protesting the use of undue force, King complained that the officers “tried to break my arm, they grabbed my collar and choked me and when they got me to the cell, they kicked me.”

Complaint, City of Montgomery v. Martin L. King

King drove home on Thursday afternoon with church secretary Lilie Thomas and a Morehouse friend, Robert Williams. On the way King picked up a few passengers at a carpool station and was questioned by the police. Two motorcycle policemen followed as he drove away and stopped him for driving thirty miles per hour in a twenty-five zone. King was arrested and taken to Montgomery City Jail and spent some time there before being released. That night the MIA held seven mass meetings to satisfy the crowds interested in King's arrest.

From the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee

At a packed public hearing on 25 October, DeKalb County judge J. Oscar Mitchell declared King’s involvement in the Rich’s sit-in a violation of his probation and sentenced him to four months hard labor at the Georgia State Prison in Reidsville. An SCLC press release issued the following day reported that Mitchell’s decision “struck the hundreds of King supporters like a bombshell. Mrs. King wept quietly, Dr. King, Sr. was visibly moved; many of the coeds of the Atlanta University system burst into tears.


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