The U.S. Marshals and the Integration of the University of
Mississippi: Trouble Brewing
The president ordered the deputies to escort Meredith onto campus September
30th in preparation for his registration the next morning in the Lyceum,
the central administration building. It was inside the Lyceum that
Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach, the senior federal official
present, held fort. He manned a bank of telephones in a makeshift
newsroom, staying in contact with the president and Attorney General
Robert F. Kennedy.
As dusk fell on the 30th, angry students gathered outside the building.
Their numbers quickly grew. The contingent of deputy marshals spaced
themselves on the sidewalk outside of the building and held guard. They
stood at 15-foot intervals, facing the street, and later closed ranks
when other federal officers arrived. The deputies concealed loaded
side arms under their suit coats, but they were ordered not to use them.
About every third man had a teargas launcher with blast dispersion
ammunition rather than projectile ammunition. They were outfitted in
makeshift military gear. Gas masks and vests, riot batons and old
helmets newly painted white with U S MARSHAL stenciled across the front
were the order of the day.
Tensions mounted, battle lines were drawn and sides were chosen.
And the crowd grew loud and agitated with each passing minute. The
verbal insults and threats stung. “Most of the harassing, jeering
language was so foul I refuse to reiterate it,” said retired Southern
California Deputy Bud Staple, one of the 127 who stood tall for the
agency that night and held their
Officers from the Mississippi Highway Patrol were aligned on the
opposite side of the street from the deputies. However, they were given
conflicting orders by their superiors and they did not quell the
impending storm of hatred that was brewing.
The student protesters formed into angry mobs, but they tailed off as
the evening wore on. However, taking up ranks alongside of them — and
even replacing them — were rioters and assorted troublemakers from as
far away as California. “We were successful early on, but as the
night wore on, there
were fewer and fewer students and more and more people from other
places,” said Duncan Gray, an Episcopal bishop who confronted the mobs
with calls for peace only to be beaten for his efforts by reactionary
Deputy Marshals arrive at Oxford Airport, 3:00 p.m.
September 30, 1962
One | Two | Three
| Four | Five |
Six | Seven |
Read about the past |
Trouble Brewing | Holding Firm
| Continued Protection |
Robert Kennedy's Statement
The Present: 40 Years Later
| The 40th Year Commemoration |
Message from Director Benigno Reyna