In this WSB newsfilm clip dated July 28, 1971, a reporter announces that Columbus mayor J. R. Allen has established a ten pm voluntary curfew for the residents of Columbus, Georgia, and Mayor Allen announces the imposition of the same evening curfew at a press conference.
The clip begins with footage of cars driving down a busy commercial street, possibly Broadway, in Columbus, Georgia. A reporter announces that the mayor will consider any vehicle traveling on the streets of Columbus after ten pm suspect, but that he has not specified what action will be taken against curfew violators will be, as he has chosen to leave the assignment of penalties to the discretion of law enforcement officials. According to the reporter, an unnamed African American spokesperson has raised objections to the mayor's allowance of the police to use their own discretion. The reporter's commentary is truncated by a statement made by Mayor Allen at a press conference. Speaking into a single microphone, Allen announces the imposition of the citywide curfew, and declares "tonight, starting at ten pm, I am asking all citizens to voluntarily stay in their homes and off the streets. I have called on all the law enforcement agencies to consider suspect any vehicle moving on the streets after ten pm. This may result in you being stopped, questioned, and inconvenienced. The degree of your volunteer cooperation in this matter will determine whether stricter measures will be required. Thank you." The clip ends at the end of Allen's statement. Violence broke out in Columbus, Georgia during the spring and summer of 1971 following a series of racially motivated suspensions and firings in the Columbus police department. On Saturday, June 19, 1971, Hosea Williams, regional vice president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), helped organize a protest march in support of demands made in a class-action lawsuit against the city, and to protest the city's failure to address grievances of the Afro-American Police League. The lawsuit's plaintiffs sought to eliminate longstanding discriminatory practices in the department, and to reinstate officers who had protested against said practices. Although the protest march was peaceful, racial tensions were high in Columbus, and violence escalated dramatically after the demonstration. Rioting escalated on June 21, 1971, when a white officer, L. A. Jacks, shot and killed a twenty-year old African American youth named Willie J. Osborne after an alleged armed robbery. Riots, arson attacks, police violence, and further protests continued to impact the city prompting the Columbus City Council to invoke an emergency ordinance, and Columbus mayor J. R. Allen to declare a state of emergency, which banned the sale of liquor, guns, and ammunition. On July 25, 1971, Mayor Allen called a voluntary citywide curfew that enabled police to stop and search city residents who were outside after ten pm. The curfew was lifted on August 6.
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.
Local identification number: Clip number: wsbn63537