Report From David "Dave" Dennis
Freedom Rides
Shreveport, LA. May 25, 1962

[This is a retyped version of a report sent by CORE field worker Dave Dennis to CORE headquarters in New York. The original document is of poor quality and some words are indecipherable.]

May 25, 1962
Committee of Inquiry
38 Park Row, New York 38, New York
COrtlandt 7-6270
Att: Marvin Rich
Dave Dennis, Shreveport, La. (Age 21, biographical facts).

Core field secretary. Former Dillard University Student.

In early July, bus riders testing compliance with the ICC ruling came to Shreveport, arriving about 11 a.m. There were between 50 and 75 policemen outside the station, and between 150 and 250 men and women considered to be spectators. I wanted to drive the riders to a place of refuge.

Police did not allow any Negroes to congregate or park within 4 blocks of the station. But they allowed me onto the parking lot by the station.

The police chief greeted riders and talked with them a bit. The mob was coming around the parking lot. Police refused to escort me and the group to the car. Between 20 and 30 of the men began to approach us. We got into the car. An FBI man drove his car across the pathway to stop the men. A pliceman in the alley I tried to go down had the alley blocked. By this time the men had gotten around the FBI car, and were on their way toward us. The policeman at the end of the alley only moved when he saw I was not going to stop. I drove the riders away.

Next morning about 4 or 5 o'clock the group left. The same number of police were on duty, including the chief. The group was told they'd be arrested if they stayed inside the terminal, so they went out and got on the bus.

Ministers who put riders up overnight received threatening and abusive telephone calls. Cars continuously drove past their houses at night, people in the cars beating on the side of the cars and shining lights into the houses. Police and the FBI were notified. They did not alter the situation, however. A police car came by one minister's home several times, shining lights into his home.

2. Dave Dennis, Shreveport

On the first August, 4 local citizens tried to desegregate the Shreveport bus terminal. Chief Harvey Teasly and several police met them and questioned them. They said they were going to tickets to Jackson and cited the ICC ruling. They refused to leave the [indecipherable] side and were arrested. The Rev. Blake and I had driven them down. We parked 4 blocks away. We were arrested.

In the jail, police questioned Rev. Blake about the affiliations of Dr. C.O. Simpkins, local NAACP leader whose houses have been fired. The 4 were in jail a week.

At the trial police presented pictures as evidence. Photographs showd officers standing up posing in the station at the time of the arrests. There were more police in the station than people. People seemed quite at ease, just sitting and looking. I believe that if police had not come in such numbers everything would have gone along peacefully. Our group was released on appeal bond.

In the latter part of August we had a church rally with James Farmer, National Director of CORE, as speaker. The rally was packed. Police blocked off streets and allowed about 100 whites to picket this church. Police turned Negroes away. Pickets called people nigger and other names and were reported to have thrown acid and hit Negroes. Police sneered at Negroes' complaints.

In October we had a boycot of Negro days at the fair, and on the 19th a boycott banquet at St. Rest Baptist Church. About 9:30, 2 firebombs were thrown into the church. They hit near the nursery and it was lucky no kids were in there. Because of our quick action the 2 rooms were not completely destroyed.

One of our fellows outside got the license number and description of the pick-up truck the bombs were thrown from. We called police and the fire department. One policeman came; we gave him information on the truck. He was more interested in what we were planning at the meeting than in what happened. The FBI questioned everyone at the meeting.

A few days later (Oct. 24), 16 of us, about 17 to 22 years old [indecipherable] had a meeting at the church. We were leaving, just [indecipherable] when police came and surrounded us. We were [indecipherable] and loitering and taken to jail.

Copyright © Dave Dennis, 1962

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