Bronx CORE (pt 2)

Bronx CORE supported both of the 1964 City Wide School boycotts. One of its members, William Deutsch, was even arrested for passing out fliers in front of a school for the second boycott. The chapter created its own ‘freedom school’ to teach regular classes in Negro history at the nearby Bethany Lutheran Church on Saturday afternoons. There was also a specific Bronx CORE youth group for ages 11-21. Judy Jones and Judy Howell were its first chairs. It should be noted that Judith Howell was one of the CORE members arrested at the start of Harlem riots and one of the speakers at the initial rally that led to the riots.

Bronx CORE vs. Police Brutality
By the time its office moved to 1301 Boston Road, Bronx CORE was involved in a campaign against police brutality that would have unforeseen consequences for the chapter and others in New York City.

Jesse Roberts (Black), the owner of an auto repair shop, showed up at the 48th precinct to report a stolen car. Instead, he was arrested on a narcotics charge, hung in a ‘crucifix position’ in an upstairs room in the precinct and beaten by 3 officers, causing several broken ribs. As dramatized in a scene from The Education of Sonny Carson, this was a torture method used by NYPD at the time. Such stories were not uncommon in the Bronx.

One hundred people picketed the precinct as a result in what was just the beginning of a series of actions and direct campaigns against police abuse. Vice chair Yaphet Kotto also alleged he had been a victim of police brutality later that year. In a document sent to the national CORE office, Kotto detailed how a security guard at a Philadelphia bus station, unexplainably threatened by Kotto's presence, called the police on him. The police robbed and beat him unconscious on the way to the precinct and then again at the precinct when he awoke. The next day he was charged with being drunk but the charges were dismissed.

On March 6th, 1964, the same day as East River CORE’s Triboro Bridge demonstration, Bronx CORE sat in at Police Commissioner Murphy’s office in Police Headquarters, 240 Centre street. Callender, Quander, Rafael Martinez and Revernd L. Walker, along with Isaih Brunson from Brooklyn CORE and two members of Progressive Youth for Puerto Rico, handcuffed themselves to a grill on a door near Murphy’s office. Other CORE members protested outside. All this was after their attempt to give Murphy’s office a fact sheet with demands to stop police brutality failed.

The action led to tighter procedures on who could enter Police Headquarters. It also led to Callender, along with Malcolm X and rent strike leader Jesse Grey, being singled out by Police Commissioner Murphy in the press as one of the ’three most irresponsible civil rights leaders in the city’. Callender was accused of having a ‘lust for power’, ‘sinister motives’ and ‘no real concern for the fight for equality or for the people waging this battle’.

Bronx and Brooklyn CORE members were arrested again on March 24th for sitting in at Mayor Wagner’s City Hall office while protesting his ‘silence’ on issues of police brutality and education. Among those arrested were Callender, Quander and Joyce Shurrick, a 21 year old Bronx Community College student. This followed Callendar’s own statements to the press:

‘We’ll have to shock the officials and the public to get the city to face up to the realities of the day. So far, we have been unable to bring about the changes we want. ”

Snake In The Garden
Bronx CORE took on an AFL-CIO local plumbers union in May when White members refused to work with the three Puerto Ricans and one Black who had recently been hired. This was almost a year after CORE’s campaigns against discrimination in the construction industry forced unions and jobs to hire non-Whites. When union heads refused to hear out delegates from Bronx and East River CORE, the two chapters staged a sit-in on May 12, 1964 at the union’s headquarters in Manhattan. Approximately fifty others demonstrated outside. At least 3 days long, James Farmer and members of Queens CORE also joined the demonstration. They planned to block the entrance to the union’s office until it decided to give jobs to non-Whites. In the press coverage, a Bronx CORE member named Ray Woodall was identified as an aide to Callender and chair of the housing and voting registration committees.

At the same time, the group arrested for the March 6th sit-in at police headquarters were given thirty day suspended sentences. Some were given fines. Callender and Quander were convicted for resisting arrest.

When these initial demonstrations did not work, Bronx CORE filed suit charging misappropriation of public funds. It alledged discriminatory hiring practices were being allowed at a city construction project the union was involved in. Summonses were served on the mayor and city controller and made for the governor and plumbing contractor. This evolved into an announcment that citizen’s arrests would be made on the mayor, governor, city and state comptrollers.

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