Interview with Erle Johnston
QUESTION 24
INTERVIEWER:

OK, LET'S CUT. STOP RIGHT THERE, THAT'S GOOD. CUT. OK, HERE …

FILM PRODUCTION TEAM:

[18 Camera roll 336. Donald Thomas recordist. Speed. Mark.]

Erle Johnston:

The Sovereignty commission was an agency of state government. It was not a big agency. It included the director and at one time a publicity director, no more than three investigators, they were not armed, they had no police power. The only thing they were asked to do was get information from any source they could. And when I say information, we were trying—at least, I can speak about when I was director, I can't speak about prior to that—but we tried to get information in advance on what might happen, like for instance if there were a group—was planning a boycott of a school, or if they were planning to go into a place and, and stir up any kind of trouble somewhere, where we could alert the local law enforcement personnel to be on guard. And by doing that we feel like we averted a lot of situations that could have gotten out of hand. I know in several cases we were able to get people to, both races together in a situation where they were at an impasse. And whenever I was invited to come in I became the third party, and through my contacts and both groups, I could either find out what exactly would it take, then I could make a recommendation. Say, well if this works, fine, if it doesn't work, blame me.