Wednesday, February 7, 2024

the last book I ever read (King: A Life by Jonathan Eig, excerpt seven)

from King: A Life by Jonathan Eig:

Gayle not only called off negotiations but also ordered police officers to begin a campaign of harassment and intimidation, dispersing groups of Black passengers as they waited for rides, tailing Black drivers, and issuing citations for minor or nonexistent traffic violations. Drivers feared they would lose their insurance or their licenses over the tickets. On one Friday night, police arrested forty Black men for public drunkenness. During a public meeting in a church, police walked the streets outside, ticketing seventy-eight cars for parking violations.

Two days after Gayle called off negotiations, King himself became the target. Driving home from church, King stopped at a carpool station to pick up passengers. Two policemen on motorcycles pulled him over and told him he was under arrest for traveling at a speed of thirty miles an hour in a twenty-five-mile-an-hour zone. A patrol car arrived. Two policemen searched King before putting him in the back seat of their car. As the car cruised away from downtown Montgomery, King felt panic. They turned on to a street he’d never seen. Where were they taking him? He worried he might be lynched. “I found myself trembling within and without,” he said. “Silently, I asked God to give me the strength to endure whatever came.”

He felt relief at the sight of the Montgomery city jail.

It was his first time behind bars.

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