Interview with John Conyers

Your constituents were calling you with the tanks on the streets in terms of what the and this couldn't be happening in America. What was the mood of your constituents?


Well you'd have to, to, ah, realize that for a people to whom this had not only never happened before but had never expected anything like this to happen, where, where we become, ah, oc- occupied by our own army, by our own law forces. People were angry, bewildered, frightened. They were looking for missing members of their family, ah, they were calling up for help and assistance. We had, ah, emergency detention centers, ah, people were trying to find out where to go. Many, much, ah, work, ah, was suspended, ah, in the city, obviously, and we were, we were trying to give off an, an impression in the government, ah, that we were in, things were in control and were getting better and if everybody would stay calm and cooperate. But the underlying problem was that, that the government was really opposed, ah, to the people. The law enforcement part of the government had gotten completely out of hand. Many of the activities were menacing, ah, all the people killed were, ah, ah, Black citizens, many under, ah, incredibly, ah, strained circumstances. The violence, the threats, the, ah, overreaction of the, of the law enforcement itself. The National Guardsmen were, ah, of course, ah, unique because they were youngsters who'd never been in an urban setting and were, were just generally, ah, unprepared for this kind of duty or activity.