In this WALB newsfilm clip from August 28, 1962, Albany, Georgia police chief Laurie Pritchett addresses and then arrests ministers from New York and Chicago participating in a kneel-in at Albany City Hall. The clip begins as the ministers, mostly white men, walk two abreast near city hall. They line up single file in front of the city hall and are met by the Albany police, some of whom stand at the far end of the line while others walk in front of the line with cameramen. From doorways across the street, spectators watch the demonstration. Pritchett asks the gathering of ministers why they came to Albany; an unidentified minister replies that they gathered to offer their prayers to God. After pausing, Chief Pritchett addresses the ministers, and counters that the publicity of their visit indicates they have come "to aid and abet the law violators of this city and of this county." Pritchett reminds the demonstrators of their civic obligations and their responsibilities to their congregations. He informs the group that those acting within the law are welcome in Albany, but lawbreakers will be treated as criminals. Pritchett asks the ministers to "go back to your normal places of livelihood, preach to your own congregation, and clear your own city of sin" before interfering with life in Albany. Appealing to their religious vocation, he says, "if you are peace-loving and religious people as you say you are, then I feel sure that you will leave here" and "not buy in with outside agitators." Pritchett reiterates his reluctance to arrest any of the clergy, asking them "in the name of decency and justice" to leave. When the ministers refuse to leave after his final warning, Pritchett orders his men to arrest them. As the group walks toward Freedom Alley (a dead-end road beside city hall where police hold arrested demonstrators for processing), the watching crowd cheers. While waiting in Freedom Alley, the clergy appear to sing in a silent portion of the clip. Seventy-five ministers, primarily from New York and Chicago, came to Albany at the request of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other local leaders hoping to facilitate interaction with Albany's white community; however, Albany's white ministers refused to meet with the "outsiders." Instead, the visiting clergy held a prayer vigil at city hall where they were arrested. All but eleven were bailed out of jail that same day; the remaining eleven stayed in jail until September 3, 1962.
The Civil Rights Digital Library received support from a National Leadership Grant for Libraries awarded to the University of Georgia by the Institute of Museum and Library Services for digital conversion and description of the WALB News Film collection.
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Cite as: WALB newsfilm clip of police chief Laurie Pritchett arresting ministers from New York and Chicago participating in a kneel-in in front of city hall in Albany, Georgia, 1962 August 28, Albany Movement compilation, WALB News Film collection, Albany Movement Compilation Roll 1 [Tape 1], Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Award Collection, The University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Ga., as presented in the Digital Library of Georgia.