A battle between two civil rights groups erupted in demonstrations in Phoenix, Arizona on Thursday (26 March) and Friday.
A battle between two civil rights groups erupted in demonstrations in Phoenix, Arizona on Thursday (26 March) and Friday. The demonstrations were seen as an attempt to embarrass Arizona's Senator Barry Goldwater who has called Arizona a state with no civil rights problems at all.
The Arizona legislature is considering a public accommodations bill guaranteeing negroes access to restaurants and hotels. The bill has passed by the House, but its chances of passage in the Senate are viewed as remote. The more militant civil rights groups in the state have pressed for passage of the bill. Under the banner of the Congress of Racial Equality. (CORE) they demonstrated with a series of sit-ins in the senate chamber and in the rotunda of the state capitol. These demonstrations have been opposed by the more moderate National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) which seeks legislation setting up a civil rights commission.
At a meeting Wednesday night, the NAACP forces were outvoted, and demonstrations in support of the public accommodation bill began. Twenty five CORE members, many of them white, sat-in at the Capitol. They were urged to leave by the Senate majority leader who told them to be out of the building by 5:30. When they did not move, they were hauled out in about ten minutes by Arizona state police. Then the demonstrators tried to stop the governor's car as he left for the day.
The next morning, Friday, they were back, picketing in support of the equal accommodations bill outside the governor's home.
Observers noted that the demonstration was being led by a San Francisco, California man. They also noted Arizona excellent record in civil rights, and speculated that the demonstrations were being organized from outside the state in order to embarrass the conservative Senator Goldwater, currently seeking the Republican presidential nomination.