Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

a

utive branch right on over here to the leadership in the Congress itself. And, as I understand it, even showing their defiance, they kept many of the Government officials, members of the Cabinet, who have responsible jobs to do, they kept them waiting for three or four hours, and then they showed no remorse or any regret for having kept them waiting for that period of time but, rather, made the comment, “We have been waiting some 350 years, so let them wait for three hours.”

But this shows you the attitudes. Now we are not dealing with a Boys Scout demonstration. We are not dealing with a parade by the American Legion. We are not dealing with a Shriners parade. All of these groups uphold America. All of these groups are helping to build a stronger America. All of these groups are patriotic citizens. And not a member of these groups, so far as I know, has ever had any Communist implication or involvement.

But some of the leaders of this particular group here have definite Communist affiliations or backgrounds. And you can rest assured that the militants and those with Communist backgrounds are going to capitalize on this particular situation, and they will try to make trouble right here in the Nation's Capital.

I want to say one thing further in support of the bill that Mr. Abbitt and Mr. Fountain spoke of, in behalf of several of us on these bills which have been introduced. There is nothing new in the matter of requiring a bond. We required a bond of the American Legion. We required a bond of the Shriners. We even required a bond of the Boys Scouts. Is it not logical that we would require a similar bond for any group which is going to be using the grounds here of the Nation's Capital !

But again, I say that we are not dealing with the normal set of circumstances. And so as a consequence I really guess we are having to look at this in an entirely or from an entirely different angle.

I might say further, as evidence of the fact that the city officials and the officials of the Department of the Interior believe that we continue to have a very tense situation, an explosive situation in the District of Columbia and parenthetically, I am a member of the Baptist denomination and I am proud of it, but it could be any denomination—the Baptists requested the use for three days from the 10th to the 13th of October, for a parade on the occasion of their continental celebration, to march on the Nation's Capital and have a rally around the Washington Monument. I understand that was the basic plan. They requested that permit, not at this time, but for October 10 and 13. Mr. Fitch of the National Park Service notified them that they would not be granted the permit.

This Baptist group has never been quilty of any violence, may I remind you, members of the committee, as is certainly true of the leadership of this particular group in most of the places they have been where the cities have suffered the violence. But this Baptist group was denied the permit by the Department of the Interior to use the Nation's Capital, and the reason for the denial of this permit and request was the tense and explosive situation which existed in the Nation's Capital.

How can we tell the American citizens, those who are law-abiding in one instance, “You cannot do it," and then knuckle under to the mob on the other side?

I remember the statement made by the Chairman of this subcommittee, and there is no more able lawyer in this Congress than hethe statement made by him before the Public Works Committee. And you said, “Gentlemen, we are virtually facing up to a simple proposition, one of two alternatives—it is not a matter of law and order at this time, although that is the principal concern.” He said, “We are coming up to the point”—and I believe that I am paraphrasing him correctly—"you are coming up to where you will have to choose between tyranny and anarchy and we do not want either. But I am sure of one thing, the American people are not going to permit even if this Congress does not act to protect them, they are not going to permit anarchy to exist in this Nation."

So, as a consequence, we might have to become a little hard in order to bring things back in perspective. This Nation is going down the drain when people can say, “I obey those laws with which I agree, and I disobey those laws with which I disagree.”

Why are we surprised that youngsters are causing trouble around here today when we have adults proclaiming from every quarter of this Nation such an alien philosophy as that? We have a real responsibility.

I do not know whether the action that you will take on this bill, Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee-whether it will do the job. I am hopeful that it may. At least, it is a step in the right direction.

I think that the American people are demanding that we face up to our responsibility as hard as they might be, as disastrous as the political consequences might be—and I know the political consequences in taking a position such as this and that which a number of others have taken, but I believe that it is our responsibility as Representatives of the American people to be willing to suffer that political consequence in order to try to maintain law and order here in the Nation's Capital.

Then may I say that everybody has a right to come here without fear of intimidation or harassment-everyone has a right to use the public facilities and the parks around here. And just as certainly as this is permitted today as apparently it has been, the permit has been granted, you will never be able to deny any group or any individual the right to come here and camp wherever they desire in the Nation's Capital

So, again, Mr. Chairman, let me say that I strongly support this bill of Mr. Friedel. I think it is only equitable. I think it is only fair, because, certainly, none of these businessmen who suffered these losses were responsible for them. There is a serious question as to whether or not the police—and they have no stronger supporter than I—and the military, too—but there is a serious question in the minds of a lot of the people as to whether or not the administration can handcuff the police and virtually hold them back from trying to control this particular mob in the occasion just a month or so ago. If we grant this permit, in my judgment, if violence occurs and, certainly, you know they are announcing that they will disrupt and dislocate this government—they are announcing that as their intention and they have further said, Mr. Abernathy has said, they intend to turn this city upside-down. Well, if he meant that, then we as responsible legislators should know that he is telling us that he is going to cause violence. And if he did not mean it, certainly, we should not permit a man to go around making such irrational statements to conduct a demonstration and to camp in and so forth in the Nation's Capital.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. WHITENER. Thank you, Mr. Watson.
Mr. McMillan?

Mr. McMillan. Thank you, Mr. Watson, for a very forthright statement. Mr. Watson is an outstanding attorney and enjoys a wonderful practice in my State. We are very much disturbed over this matter so it could easily get out of hand in these confused times.

Mr. WHITENER. Mr. Winn?

DENIAL OF OTHER REQUESTS TO CAMP OR PARADE Mr. Winn. Mr. Watson, you remarked about the numbers of high school seniors who usually come in the spring to see the city and visit the many beautiful memorials are being denied that privilege. Are you aware or do you know of any circumstances where students have been allowed to camp on any of the grounds around here?

Mr. WATSON. Mr. Winn, I certainly know of none whatsoever. Frankly, they have never requested such a permit so far as I know, But if they had, in the absence of specific legislation, I do not believe that they would have been granted such a permit.

Mr. WINN. It is my understanding that down through the years some groups, not knowing the rules and the regulations, have inquired whether they could camp in the Mall area. They were told, no, this was against the regulations.

Mr. Watson. I am sure that is a correct statement. We might bear in mind that we are dealing with a most unusual situation. Really, the people who care a little bit about what the law is, act differently. We had a camp-in of a very short duration in Lafayette Park. And I understand that the officials were complaining up and down, “You cannot do it. You cannot do it.” But they did it. And that was further encouragement to just what is happening here today.

I am sure that these officers can testify to this fact that if you allow a man to break the law one time without redress and adequate punishment it is further encouragement and that you, the official, are actually responsible for further violations.

Mr. WINN. You mentioned the Baptists having a celebration here in October. You mentioned the name of the man who turned them down. I do not know if he will come before this committee or not. I hope that we would have a chance to visit with this man. Do you know how many requests for similar types of meetings have come into the District per year along the same line as the Boy Scouts or the Shriners or the American Legion?

Mr. Watson. I certainly do not. There was an article which appeared in the Baptist Courier of the State of South Carolina. So far as I am concerned I take no position one way or the other as to the issuance of the permit. This was not a camp-in. This was simply a matter of having a parade in the Nation's Capital and having a rally around the Washington Monument. The reply received was that in view of the tense situation that they were not granting any permits. Bear in mind that this was only to occur October 10 to 13, this event.

Mr. WINN. I understand. This was for the purpose of a parade; right? Mr. WATSON. Yes, sir.

Mr. Winn. Do you know if the permit was granted for the parade yesterday?

Mr. WATSON. I do not know whether it was or not. Frankly, Mr. Winn, I do not think it makes any difference. I do not know whether they requested it. Perhaps the authorities will be able to answer that question.

Mr. Winn. Thank you.
Mr. WHITENER. Mr. Steiger?

DAMAGES OR DISORDER

[ocr errors]

Mr. STEIGER. I also would like to join my colleagues in commending you on your very excellent statement.

I do not know whether you have seen a copy of the D.C. government report over the signature of Mr. Fletcher and Mr. Washington on the bill. On page two of that report it says, “Under the bill, no criteria are provided to guide the government official or employee as to what constitutes “property damage or disorder.''

What they are saying is that in your bill you are asking for something that is beyond the ability of anybody to determine.

I would then refer to the permit signed by Mr. Castro who is the Regional Director of the National Park Service, and a part of that language says, and I will quote it: “Permitee shall hold the United States and the District of Columbia harmless in the event of the death or injury of any person, for the destruction or damage to any property," et cetera.

Ådditionally, no explosives or such flammable fuels shall be permitted in the designated area. It would seem to me that Mr. Castro has been able to anticipate some problems. He also would be the man who would make the judgment as to what constitutes property damage, et cetera.

It occurs to me, and I would welcome your comment on this: If the official granting the permit is not capable of anticipating violence or damage it would seem to me that he should not be permitted to grant a permit and that somebody who is capable of anticipating the problem should be selected instead. You might choose to comment on that.

Mr. Watson. Mr. Steiger, your point is well taken there. In my judgment I do not think that anyone could answer it. Again, we get back to the basic proposition that we are dealing with a most unusual set of circumstances here. Apparently they will cut the cloth to fit the pattern. And if it does not make sense when you and I raise the question, if it suits their purpose later on, it can make sense within their interpretation. And I agree with you that if they cannot conclude as to what would be a reasonable and adequate bond, as others have done, then, perhaps, they should let others who are more competent and qualified to make such determination for them.

If I may make one further point here, I do not know where we are headed. I have been trying to help the committee, if I can. I do not know whether I have made a worthwhile contribution. But we have

read here recently where many of the store owners in the District of Columbia are being approached by militants and are required to pay protection, somewhat comparable to the Al Capone period, in order not to be looted, et cetera. This is a tragic thing of what is happening here in the Nation's Capital.

I have heard some are being required to buy portraits of this or that of a particular variety. Others are demanding $500 in order to be "protected" from shooting and rioting.

That is why I think it is incumbent upon us to try to bring some order out of chaos and to protect not only the local citizens here, but to protect the American people who, as taxpayers, have the right to come in and visit their capital. Frankly, when we passed the so-called civil rights bill it was for the protection of the civil rights of all of the people or, at least, I am sure that the majority of the Congress thought so. But, apparently, now that is not the way it is being interpreted.

Mr. STEIGER. Thank you.

DENIAL OF SIMILAR REQUESTS Mr. WHITENER. Thank you very much, Mr. Watson. With reference to your comment about the Baptist group having requested an opportunity to parade and to have a meeting or a rally, let me say that on April 25 I requested permission of the Department of the Interior, which is not within the purview of the District, for the Boy Scouts to have a jamboree beside the Washington Monument, July 18, 19 and 20. And I have not received any reply yet. There has been a lot of going back and forth between the Secretary of the Interior and the Park Service. It seems that they are having real serious difficulty in deciding whether these young fellows who have as the keystone of their organization “God and country,” should have this privilege, while the District Commissioner is telling us it is unconstitutional, and the privilege should be denied them. I just wonder how we can reconcile this.

Mr. Watson. No one can reconcile it, Mr. Chairman. There are people who are trying to delude and deceive the American people in this regard. There is no way to reasonably reconcile the two positions. Here are the Boy Scouts supporting “God and country," who have never made any announced intention to dislocate or to disrupt the Nation, to turn it upside-down-one of the finest groups of youths in the world, and yet they have to agonize over whether to grant them a permit, and yet work it out for others where violence has followed them wherever they have gone. The answer is obvious to any thinking person. I hope that this committee will help Mayor Washington and others. We realize their problems. I really deep down believe that they would like to see this committee and the Congress get this monkey off of their backs. Let us face up to it. And I think there is no way to explain adequately to the American people as to why you would deny or have any difficulty in deciding whether to grant a permit for an encampment of Boy Scouts, but yet you go out here and work out an encampment with the announced intention to disrupt the Government which I understand has exceptions or renewals later on.

Mr. WHITENER. This is another day. You will recall the men who fought for their country, in uniform, in World War I, on the battle

[ocr errors]
« ForrigeFortsett »