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Beyond IntegrationThe Black Freedom Struggle in Escambia County, Florida, 1960-1980$
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J. Michael Butler

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781469627472

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469627472.001.0001

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Who Shall We Incarcerate?

Who Shall We Incarcerate?

Chapter:
(p.131) Chapter Five Who Shall We Incarcerate?
Source:
Beyond Integration
Author(s):

J. Michael Butler

Publisher:
University of North Carolina Press
DOI:10.5149/northcarolina/9781469627472.003.0006

In December 1974, a county deputy named Doug Raines shot a black motorist named Wendel Blackwell in the head from a three-foot distance, killing him instantly. The incident represented the culmination of years of animosity that had built between law enforcement officials and area African Americans. Escambia County SCLC president Rev. H. K. Matthews, and Rev. B. J. Brooks, the Pensacola NAACP chairman, organized mass meetings, economic boycotts, and nightly picket lines on county property to protest the suspected murder. The activities resembled those from the previous decade’s civil rights struggles across the south. Yet on February 24, 1975, deputies arrested forty-seven African Americans during a non-violent demonstration on Sheriff’s Department property, and they charged Brooks and Matthews with felony extortion for supposedly leading a threating chant. Sgt. Jim Edson exacerbated hostilities by making numerous slurs against black activists, yet Sheriff Royal Untriener blamed African Americans for the unrest that engulfed the community and refused to reprimand Edson or any other officers. The Blackwell shooting represented the pinnacle of the county’s long civil rights movement.

Keywords:   Doug Raines, Wendel Blackwell, Escambia County SCLC, Reverend H. K. Matthews, Reverend B. J. Brooks, Pensacola NAACP, Sheriff Royal Untreiner, Sgt. Jim Edson, Long civil rights movement

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