Interview with Richard Valeriani
QUESTION 13
INTERVIEWER:

NOW, MAKE IT CLEAR FOR ME, DID YOU, WHY DIDN'T YOU HAVE BODYGUARDS WITH YOU ON FEBRUARY 18th, THE NIGHT 0F JIMMY LEE JACKSON'S DEATH?

Richard Valeriani:

We did not have bodyguards as a rule, as if, we did not automatically go to the South with bodyguards. And during the Selma march we had been threatened and uh, we had been harassed but none of us, that is none of us working for NBC had been physically harmed and we realized, I realized that a nighttime march would be dangerous, but we just really didn't think about having protection, or our own protection that much, there was assumption, obviously um not well founded all the time that the local or the state um law enforcement officers would protect us. You didn't trust local policemen. But if the state troopers were there, either in Alabama or Mississippi, uh, you figured that they would intervene and uh, and protect you if it came to that. You certainly didn't rely on the FBI, because you knew they would not intervene. I remember once sitting in a restaurant in Meridian with a public relations uh, officer for the um, Mississippi highway patrol and some white woman came over to our table and just read him the riot act for just sitting there with three of us reporters from the North. And that was his job to kind of schmooze us, but uh she was outraged that he would even have coffee with us.