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An Apology to Protesters: Natchez Formally Apologizes for Sending Them Directly to Prison in 1965

by John Mott Coffey, with News Mississippi affiliate WQNZ

NATCHEZ, Miss.–During the Civil Rights era, some protesters in Mississippi were sent directly to prison when there wasn’t room in the county jail. Fifty years later, the city of Natchez has formally apologized for that treatment.

The Board of Aldermen formally apologized to Natchez civil rights protesters arrested and abused 50 years ago when sent to the state prison on charges of parading without a permit and defying a local judge’s order against marching on the streets. Because there was no room in the city or county jails, about 300 or so civil-rights activists in October 1965 were taken to Parchman prison in north Mississippi to be held until bailed out. They were stripped naked in cold weather and crowded — more than 10 apiece — into maximum-security cells meant for just two prison inmates, according to historical accounts. They were given laxatives without adequate toilet facilities.

In acknowledging Natchez’ “Parchman Ordeal,” the Board of Aldermen Tuesday voted for a resolution apologizing to those blacks “who suffered these injustices.”

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