This Day in History

July 22, 1966: Judge Orders Police to Protect Demonstrators in Grenada, Mississippi

Time Periods: People’s Movement: 1961 - 1974
Themes: African American, Civil Rights Movements, Democracy & Citizenship, Laws & Citizen Rights

On July 22, 1966, U.S. District Judge Claude Clayton issued an injunction ordering police in Grenada, Mississippi to stop interfering with lawful protest.

Instead, Judge Clayton ordered, the police were to protect demonstrators while requiring certain rules to be set down for the conduct of marches.

This ruling followed weeks of arrests and beating of demonstrators who had been attempting to desegregate businesses in the town.

Grenada, MS | ZInn Education Project

Mass rally on Grenada’s central town square, 1966.

In response to the ruling, a mob of nearly 700 angry white supremacists and reportedly five carloads of Klansmen gathered on the square to attack the planned night march, visibly armed with clubs, chains, and knives.

When asked to protect the marchers, Mississippi state troopers claimed to have been “caught by surprise” by the “sudden” hostile mob, and that they were unprepared to protect the march. Organizers were forced to call off their peaceful demonstration.

Read more in “Grenada Mississippi—Chronology of a Movement” by Bruce Hartford at the Civil Rights Movement Veterans website, CRMvet.org.