MLK Assassination and Pine Bluff

Mar 4, 2018

On April 4, 1968, fifty years ago this month, civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. Black anger at the assassination immediately spilled out onto the streets and there was racial unrest in many American cities. In Pine Bluff, on the night of April 5, five instances of arson were reported, the windows of downtown businesses were broken, and a gun battle took place between local blacks and white policemen at the Gala nightclub. Three black people were shot and wounded by the police and another 320 were detained. The following day Pine Bluff Mayor Austin Franks declared a state of emergency, imposed a curfew, and closed all liquor stores. Governor Winthrop Rockefeller deployed 100 National Guardsmen and 20 state troopers to the city.