In this WSB newsfilm clip from December 10, 1961, Albany, Georgia, police chief Laurie Pritchett speaks to reporters in a press conference held in his office regarding the arrest of eight "freedom riders" and three local students at the railroad station earlier in the day. Chief Pritchett defends his decision to arrest the interracial group who traveled from Atlanta to Albany, stating that he ordered the eleven individuals arrested as a last resort after deciding that things with the waiting crowd "could get out of hand at any time." After their arrest, the eight individuals were brought to police headquarters in a paddy wagon. Pritchett reports that the arrested freedom riders gave public addresses in Atlanta, North Carolina, New York, and Michigan; he then explains that after the arrest was made, Albany's traffic division officers restored normal traffic flow within fifteen to twenty minutes. In response to a question from a reporter (off-screen), Pritchett responds that Albany has been fortunate to have "good relations with the colored population" and until November 1, 1961 (the date that the Federal Interstate Commerce Commission ruled to ban segregation on interstate buses, trains, and stations that serviced interstate travelers), the city had not had any history of racial disturbance. The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) organized the December 10 ride from Atlanta to Albany with four black and four white riders and a white observer, Casey Hayden, who monitored the group's interactions with the police and others. Black riders were SNCC executive secretary James Forman, Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) member Bernard Lee, SNCC office manager Norma Collins, and recent Atlanta University graduate, Lenora Taitt. White riders included Danish journalist Per Laursen, and three more SNCC members: Bob Zellner, Joan Browning, and Tom Hayden. A group of local African Americans had gathered to meet the riders at the train station, but only reporter A. C. Searles, SNCC member Charles Jones, and former Albany State College student Bertha Gober were allowed in the station. Freedom ride participants attempted to use the white waiting room; they were asked to leave by the police. Shortly after moving outside, all eight freedom riders were arrested, as were Jones, Gober, and another student from Albany State College, Willa Mae Henderson. All were charged with disorderly conduct, obstruction of the flow of traffic, and failure to obey an officer.
Title supplied by cataloger.
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 WSB-TV Newsfilm Collection.
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Cite as: WSB-TV newsfilm clip of Laurie Pritchett, Albany police chief, speaking to reporters about the arrest of freedom riders in Albany, Georgia, 1961 December 10, WSB-TV newsfilm collection, reel 1058, 57:25/59:29, Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection, The University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Ga, as presented in the Digital Library of Georgia.