Box 9, Folder 23, Document 2

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Box 9, Folder 23, Document 2

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place for gang leaders; and the WSO newspaper may
fairly be called inflammatory in its constant and
exaggerated preaching against the police for al-
leged brutality.

In the SCLC offices, many of the staff members
wear buttons bearing the legend “Anybody But
Daley,” and many of the local rights leaders joining
hands with Dr. King are people who spend their
lives trying to undermine the Daley machine poli-
tically.

In these surroundings, Dr. King’s non-violence
becomes, at the best, confusing—to the white com-
munity and to the Negroes. Dr. King came into the
city and took over a rights movement in which many
of the activists had carelessly talked brutality and
violence for too long. That talk had its effect and
is still having it.

Thus the riot clarified the argument over black
power. The rioters knew that riot is the negation
of civil order, but they have now found it is also
the dissolution of all power, political, moral and
economic. The trophy of riot is destruction; but,
when Dr. King rightly tells the residents of the
ghetto that they have little stake in this society,
he cannot easily convince them they should not
destroy it. That is the logic of events, and it has
caught Dr. King out, along with the rest of Chicago.

Riot’s triumph is death. Almost miraculously,
there was little death in the riot here. Two—or three
persons—died, killed by stray bullets. One was a
man from Mississippi and the other was a 14-year-
old girl whose baby was stillborn as the mother died.

Considering the amount of shooting for three days,
this toll is small, There were snipers everywhere.
Wednesday night there was random shooting from
the windows of a high rise city housing project,
some of it aimed by neighbors at neighbors. Thurs-
day night there was a spectacular gun battle between
the residents of another high rise and the police.
There were gun battles up and down streets. The
mere number of weapons being used on both sides
seemed incredible.

Has the white community started now to arm
itself against such another battle? No one will guess.
Police officials keep a tight lip on the subject, say-
ing they do not want to indulge in psychological
warfare. The youth gangs, both Negro and white,
are superbly armed, but there is no evidence that
they were conducting the gun battles. One is left
with the uncomfortable notion that the citizens in
general are well supplied with the instruments of
death, and that the temperature of violence has risen
sharply all over the city as a result of the riot.

It is certain that the riot has frightened both

Negroes and whites. The wide publicity given locally
to the youth gangs—most of it enormously exag-
gerated—has terrified the old Negro leadership and
many of the Negro church and community leaders.
The same publicity, and the violence of the riot,
have produced a noticeable rise of hostility among
whites against the Negroes and against the civil
rights drive. The politicians, even if they had
decided to make some concessions to Dr. King
toward racial integration, are now severely con-
stricted by their constituencies.

Innuendo and Rumor

In the search for causes of the riot, meanwhile,
everyone seems to be trying to ignore the solution
to the great problems. They continue to rely on
accusation, innuendo and even rumor as an excuse
for not doing what must be done. The youth gangs
are blamed, and there is talk of subversive groups,
without any reflection that in a well-ordered society
a subversive group has not much of a chance, but
that in a riotous situation it has every advantage.

The politicans are blaming Dr. King for stirring
up trouble, but they know he is voicing real grie-
vances; they just cannot believe there is not some
kind of conspiracy at work, but they have little
evidence for one. It may be said fairly that they
despise the man who has troubled their consciences.

Dr. King blames the politicians for raising Negro
hopes and then not fulfilling them, but he himself
has been singularly maladroit in finding ways to
cooperate with them while allowing them to save
face. He has deliberately ignored the fact that the
politicians are elected by the white majority as well
as by Negroes, and that the majority ranges from
timidly liberal to solidly reactionary, that it can be
led, but not pushed.

Hard as Marshmallows

Perhaps the only people who found their views
and themselves justified in the riot were the teen-
age gang leaders who will tell you bluntly that all
the adult leaders on both sides are empty, greedy
and devious, and about as hard as marshmallows.

If the people of the ghetto are looking for a pur-
pose and the youths are looking for a hero—as one
suspects they are—an honest man would have to
tell them to look elsewhere; for the rocks and bullets
and clubs that destroyed windows and buildings also
demolished a whole structure of plaster saints, black
and white.

Without the saints, we are left with human beings
to deal with the gut issues. The heroes remain to be
made out of the violence and chaos.

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  1. http://allenarchive.iac.gatech.edu/originals/ahc_CAR_015_009_023_002.pdf

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