This Week in St. Johns County History: Renewed race violence hits St. Augustine

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Editor's note: The Associated Press wrote this report from the race demonstrations on May 29, 1964. The original version from 1964 has been edited for clarity.

New violence was reported Friday, May 29, 1964, in this racially troubled old city where Blacks have started nightly demonstrations in the streets.

Officials met to consider placing a ban on demonstrations similar to those which started the evening of May 26 and led to an attack Thursday, May 28 by a jeering, white crowd of some 50 on two newsmen and several other persons. No ban was issued.

Police investigated a report that 19 rifle bullets and shotgun pellets were fired into a cottage rented for Dr. Martin Luther King at 5480 Atlantic View. King, leader of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, was not in the cottage.

Policemen move in with leashed dogs at St. Augustine on May 28, 1964, in an attempt to prevent violence during a march on downtown by Black demonstrators. One demonstrator was bitten in a clash with police.
Policemen move in with leashed dogs at St. Augustine on May 28, 1964, in an attempt to prevent violence during a march on downtown by Black demonstrators. One demonstrator was bitten in a clash with police.

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King, in San Francisco, sent a telegram to President Johnson requesting federal protection. "All semblance of law and order has broken down in St. Augustine. In the last 48 hours we have witnessed lawless, rampant violence even beyond much of what we experienced in Alabama or Mississippi," he said.

He vowed the shooting would not stop the current desegregation drive.

The report of shots fired came from Harry G. Boyte of Atlanta, a white man identified as an aide to King. Boyte also said shotgun pellets were fired at a car in which he rode with his son, Harry C. Boyte, 19.

Officers said they found evidence of shotgun pellets in a car Boyte parked at a motel.

In the Thursday night's racial eruption, the crowd of whites broke through police lines and beat James P. Kerlin, Associated Press photographer, and Ervin Gans, 43, sound man for the National Broadcasting Co.

Gans, of Dallas, was admitted to a hospital where doctors said he suffered scalp cuts and a possible skull fracture. Kerlin, of Miami, was bruised. He said he apparently was not hurt seriously.

Police took one white man into custody for fighting.

The street processions were observed without incident by white crowds earlier in the week.

Since last summer, demonstrators concentrated their efforts on sit-ins in restaurants.

This article originally appeared on St. Augustine Record: This Week in St. Johns History: Race violence hits St. Augustine