Sunday, March 7, 2010
Another View of the Bridge
Forty-five years ago today, the Edmund Pettus Bridge became the site of a violent voting rights confrontation known as "Bloody Sunday."
Local news media reported that Martin Luther King Jr. planned to lead several hundred people on a march that day from Selma to Montgomery. The march protested the death of a young black man who died of infection after being shot during a night march and confrontation with state troopers in nearby Marion. Although King did not arrive in Selma, the march, which did not have a parade permit, was led by other black leaders.
Selma's Public Safety Director Wilson Baker argued that the marchers should be arrested rather than gassed and beaten if they failed to obey state and county officers to disperse. However, when the marchers stopped but did not withdraw, a trooper major ordered the troopers forward with nightsticks and tear gas grenades. A sheriff's posse mounted on horses chased the demonstrators all the way back to Brown Chapel AME Church. Although none of the marchers died in the melee, some received serious injuries, including John Lewis, chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.