73 problems, racial discrimination and hatred."

In document Political movements : three case studies of protest (Page 163-167)

The tactics which nave been discussed were used to attack related areas to the ones outlined. There were lie-downs in front of moving cars at the approachway to Jones Beach in a bid to draw attention to GORE's campaign for the hiring of more Negroes and Puerto Ricans by


the state park commission. Seven CORE members were arrested for Jurisdiction over persons charged with illegal acts had been given to the Fair authorities by the city in its contract with the Fair.

72 Ibid., Apr. 23, 1964, p. 1. 73

Quoting Farmer, in ibid., Apr. 23, 1964, p. 28. 7 ’* Ibid., July 5, 1963, p. 1.

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disorderly conduct when they protested over alleged police brutality by handcuffing themselves to a large iron grille outside the office of the Police Commissioner.^“* Two weeks later, eight demonstrators were arrested for blocking the loading area of a brewery concern; they had resorted to direct action when negotiations failed to resolve differences over the company’s hiring p o l i c i e s . ^ A week later, eight CORE pickets were ejected from City Hall after staging a sit-in in protest over the mayor's failure to take action on the questions of police brutality and school integration.^

Demonstrations continued to the time at which this study closes, but none reached the pitch of the protests discussed in detail. There was dissension within the civil rights movement over tactics. The gamut of non-violent direct action ran from the legal protest meetings and the rallies of the NAACP to the more militant, in some cases civilly disobedient, tactics of CORE. At one end of the spectrum stood Wilkins of the NAACP

who, eve» as late as June,1963, argued that intelligent work in capital lobbies would be more effective than mass marches on Washington and sit-


ins in the halls of Congress. But the NAACP, with its regular paid staff and its large network of chapters, its half a million members and income of nearly $1,500,000 could rely upon legalism and litigation that less well-endowed organizations were forced to reject. At the other end

^ Ibid,, Mar. 7, 1964. p. 1. ^ Ibid,, Mar. 21, 1964, p. 12. 77 Ibid., Mar, 28, 1964, p. 20.

of the spectrum stood Farmer of CORE, for wtiom there was an organiza­ tional need to extol demonstrations that could produce a reaction which CORE’s limited resources could not achieve in any other way.

Independent action groups, local branches of national organizations, and the national headquarters of the latter occasionally quarrelled over tactics of racial integration. One local leader argued that "anybody who is under the aegis of a national organization and who is responsible

to an anonymous board of directors and a faceless host of contributors


cannot function adequately in the current situation as a creative leader’.' There was the further difficulty of local affiliates who viewed problems differently from the national bodies; or local leaders who were able to assess the temper of the immediate activists more accurately. But as was often the case, it was the national body, or the better-known leaders, who had the prestige, the organizational ability, and the financial

resources to undertake a long-range programme.

Although the civil rights movement in the North was not bound

slavishly to any one theory of non-violent direct action, there appeared to be certain well-accepted standards of behaviour. First, even in the North, direct action was used usually as a last resort, after conciliation

and negotiation had failed to produce results. Farmer said: "We find that demonstrations are frequently the catalyst - spur the dialogue. Sometimes

79 demonstrations start the dialogue."



June 22, 1964, p. 1.


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Secondly, most of the leaders recognized that militant tactics alone would not produce a solution. They supported the use of a plurality of

approaches - legal, moral, economic, political as well as the simultaneous use of a variety of tactics. But they objected to being told to use only


conventional channels to make their position known. While the appeal of militancy was great for those who had come to distrust promises and media­ tion, shock tactics were used only when it appeared that other methods had failed.

Thirdly, all of the leaders stressed that they tried to avoid either provoking violence or interfering with the rights of others; but some of them argued that they were forced into inconveniencing the public by the failure of other methods. Galamison said:

The question [of why certain tactics are used] assumes that we are not utilizing these direct action tactics as a last resort, that we haven't sat around trying to negotiate in a civilized way, that we haven't been

consistently frustrated at every turn.... We have no alternative. This is why we turn to tactics that lose

us friends. 81

The bridge sit-downs and the Fair stall-ins were examples of civil disobedience,and for many critics, non-violent direct action which bordered on violence. The objectives were just and fair or, at any rate, consistent with the goals of the civil rights movement; but the tactics of urgency

only infuriated the mor.orists whose cars were (or might have been) halted by the action. In the North, however, specific objectives were easier to 80

See the argument in Oscar liandlin, Fire-Bell in the Night: Tne Crisis in Civil Rights (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1964). "Backlash", The New Yorker3 XL (May 30, 1964), 26.

formulate than specific oppressors were to Identify. Galamison said: "We're living in a society where it's Increasingly hard to find who's responsible. It's difficult to determine at whom you direct your

* *



Some within the civil rights movement who had opposed the bridge sit-downs end the atall-ins on tactical grounds were prepared still to come to the defence of the militants. Whitney Young, executive director of the Urban League, attacked the critics who bemoaned the tactics used by the Negro but who themselves gave no concrete assistance to the movement: "The white man is concentrating on the inconveniences and disturbances and


In document Political movements : three case studies of protest (Page 163-167)