City Jail and Municipal Court Building

The city jail and municipal court building were the sense of significant legal events related to the Jackson civil rights movement.

The Tougaloo Nine were incarcerated in the city jail on March 27, 1961, and held for thirty-two hours after they were arrested a the public library sit-in. On March 29, the “colored”section of the courtroom filled up early, and the overflow crowd of supporters gathered in front of the municipal court building. When the Nine appeared at the courthouse steps, the crowd broke into applause and cheers. In response, policemen with clubs, dogs, and tear gas charged the crowd. Many, including Medgar Evers, were struck and injured. The FBI later investigated the tactics and procedures of the Jackson Police Department in this incident.

The Tougaloo Nine were found guilty of breach of the peace, fined $100 each, and granted 30-day suspended sentences after agreeing not to participate in future demonstrations.

In the same jail two months later, the first twenty-seven Freedom Riders arrested at the Trailways bus station were incarcerated. They refused bond and remained in jail, with as many as ten persons locked in cells designed for four. Some were even taken to the state penitentiary at Parchman. By the end of 1961, at least 320 had been arrested, two-thirds of whom were college students.

James Bevel and Bernard Lafayette were convicted and sentenced to four consecutive six-month jail terms for contributing to the delinquency of minors by encouraging them to sit in at the downtown Walgreen’s store.

Sources:

“Civil Rights Driving Tour of Hinds County”produced by the Associated Press, Tougaloo College, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, and the Mississippi Development Authority (Tourism Division).