In the United States, the case of Tommy Lee Hynes -- a retarded black accused of rape -- has injected bitter black-white tensions into the township of Cullman, Alabama.
GV/SV Ku Klux Klansmen outside courthouse in Cullman, Alabama (3 shots)
GV PAN Church
SV Blacks sitting outside church
SV Tommy Bee Hynes being escorted to car
SV Policeman with megaphone
SV Policemen (3 shots)
SV Jury outside court-house
PAN Blacks outside church
SV Ku Klux Klansmen (2 shots)
BELL: "The Ku Klux Klan, in full robes and broad daylight, stake out the county courthouse. Their spokesman -- Imperial Wizard of the United Klans -- says that they've come to keep the peace, but, f course, it's their kind of peace.
"Across the road, on the steps of a church, a group of blacks maintain a vigil of their own over a case that means far more to them than one man's guilt or innocence. Tommy Lee Hynes --a retarded black with a mental age his doctors say of five -- is charged with raping three white women in his hometown, Decatur, and robbing one of them. To the prosecution, it's an open-and-shut case, and they even have a confession -- though not one signed by Hynes himself--because, of course, Hynes can't write. To the blacks, it's a false rap, and a victimisation of their whole community, from which they feel Hynes was picked because he couldn't defend himself in any coherent way. But suddenly this case -- like that of the Wilmington Ten -- has come to have a symbolic significance nationally for the whole of the civil rights movement, and the trial at Cullman is emphatically more than just another court case.
POLICE OFFICER: "Move off this block. If you don't move off, we'll move you off with force."
BELL: "A bomb scare in the courtroom is one of the interruptions to the cause of justice here, and Alabama State Troopers in riot gear, on hand during the trial in case of racial trouble, are called to the courthouse instead on a different mission:to search it from top to bottom. The trial was moved here from Decatur in the interest of public order, and because of Cullman's record of racial harmony, a record that, in truth, has hardly been tested, since the town with the self-styled heart of Dixie has hardly any blacks in it. And the jury of Cullman people is inevitably an all-white jury. In the case of Tommy Lee Hynes, there are few neutrals: blacks believe him innocent, whites believe him guilty. And across the courthouse square, the two groups confront each other as through nothing had changed; old passions and resentments are still alive and dangerous as ever. This is Martin Bell in Cullman, Alabama."
REPORTER: MARTIN BELL
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: In the United States, the case of Tommy Lee Hynes -- a retarded black accused of rape -- has injected bitter black-white tensions into the township of Cullman, Alabama. Both the American Civil Rights Movement and the racist group, Ku Klux Khan, have fastened onto the issue. The venue for Hynes's trial has been changed from his hometown of Decatur, Alabama, to Cullman to retain public order. Viewpoints on the case are strongly divided between blacks, who believe in Hyner's innocence, and whites, who seen him guilty. Martin Bell of the BBC reports from Cullman.