Interview with Albert Turner
QUESTION 12
INTERVIEWER:

RAN OUT AGAIN. OK, WE GOTTA CHANGE ONE MORE TIME. MR. TURNER, WHAT HAPPENED WHEN UH, WHEN THEY UH, WHEN THE STATE TROOPERS STARTED TO CHARGE? OR MAYBE YOU CAN JUST TELL US THAT THE STATE TROOPERS STARTED TO CHARGE AND THEY CAME WITH HORSES AND ALL OF THAT.

Albert Turner:

Yeah, after we was halted on the bridge, uh, the state troopers charged and in… after giving us several minutes to leave. And of course we didn't leave. Uh, they charged us with this Billy clubs, uh horizontally. Canned us over. That's what the idea, you know, you rushin' towards 'em, push us all into each other, and you just can people over. In the process of doing that canning, you know, a lot of us fell and was knocked down. Then they actually beat people like John Lewis, up. John got a severe head wound that… from that, that uh beating. John was physically beaten and other people were physically beaten uh but uh… it appeared that I was knocked over at the initial canning. And some more people struggled before they was knocked over and they eventually stumbled and fell over each other. So, people really kind of was removed about uh… maybe twenty or thirty yards away from me where the real beatings went on. I got up off the ground and found myself almost alone then, a crow—by myself. Uh, people went into hysterics almost at that point. You know, people got real upset and they started runnin' and everything. But we had a… a set of staff members who was bringing up the rear. We was expecting this to happen. And uh, all of us didn't really go in the march all of the staff didn't go in the march. Uh, we had staff that would be prepared for that situation. So their job was to regroup the people once this happened, if some of us got killed or pushed over the bridge or something. And uh, they met the people and had us all, we all then regrouped in the middle of the highway. And this was our way of protecting ourselves, we came all and made a circle and bowed on our knees and made a big circle right in the middle of the road. So that the troopers couldn't beat us no more. Uh, because the circle was a circle that had all the women and the children in the center and all of the men was on the outside of the circle. And uh, there was very few people who would uh, like to get involved in a circle like that. So generally, they don't bother you, in fact I've never known anybody that bothered that circle. They regrouped after we regrouped and they knew which… they knew that there was a pretty difficult situation to deal with us in that, in that big circle like that. So they went back and they regrouped. And in their regrouping they came back out with tear gas. This is the only thing that they had that was effective against the circle. And they tear gassed us and uh we stayed there as long as we could and we had tried to train ourselves as how to deal with tear gas too but uh… you can't stay there for so long. And uh, a lot of people panicked at that point too. And of course we, we directed the people then to kind of run away from the road. And go into kind of a… a ravine like that kind of give us a natural protection. So we all went in there and at this point we get everybody wounded and took people to the doctor and these kinds of things. We counseled with people and pacified folks and calmed them down. And then we kind of later drifted back to the church. A staff member like myself had to stay until everybody else was situated. Uh, we had to see that the people was properly uh, taken care and gotten out. So, after everybody had eventually gone, then it was my turn to try to make it back to the church. At this point as we went back across the bridge, it didn't go back in an organized march. Uh, people went back drifting. Some people was marchin' and some peoples in line, but uh, people was at that point all… shook up. And this is a point where we really was ran with the horses. See we had a bunch of guys who rode horses and whipped us with, with, with cow whips. And made us run back to the church. We couldn't just walk back to the church. And uh… anybody who tried to walk back in an orderly manner was physically whipped. And ran with horses. And of course they drove us back with sticks and billy clubs and anybody they could catch, they really whipped them up, on the way back to the church, all the way back through the housing projects and things. And uh, we still was able to kind of survive it and not get into a big melee. We finally got back to the church of course and uh, almost all of us, eventually ended up at the church. We had our meeting that evening and talked to the people and let them know that we wasn't going to stop then of course uh, disbanded and went home.