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Peekskill USA

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Appendix I

Summary Conclusions of the American Civil Liberties Union Investigation of the Two Peekskill Affairs

  1. There is no evidence whatever of Communist provocation as defined on page 32 (of the ACLU pamphlet on Peekskill) on either occasion.
  2. While the demonstrations were organized to protest against and express hatred of Communism, the unprovoked rioting which resulted was fostered largely by anti-Semitism, growing out of local resentment against the increasing influx of Jewish summer residents from New York. It was heightened by the area's tradition of political violence evidenced in the attacks on the KKK which is now an important part of the local legend.
  3. The local press bears the main responsibility for inflaming, possibly through sheer irresponsibility, Peekskill residents to a mood of violence.
  4. Robeson's concerts were not an intrusion into Peekskill but were private gatherings held five miles outside of Peekskill which were disrupted deliberately by invading gangs from nearby localities.
  5. Terrorism was general against all who advocated freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and preservation of constitutional rights.
  6. The evidence proves beyond question that the veterans intended to prevent the concerts from being held.
  7. Effective police protection at the first concert was deliberately withheld.
  8. Preparations to police the second concert appeared adequate; therefore, there was reason to believe that the concert-goers would be protected.
  9. These preparations were largely a sham insofar as the Westchester County police were concerned and left the concert-goers undefended.
  10. The wounding of William Secor, rioting veteran, occurred while he was assisting in the commission of a crime.
  11. The location of the veterans' parades was deliberately provocative. The county authorities did not insist that the parades be held elsewhere.
  12. The evidence indicates that at least some of the state troopers honestly tried to preserve law and order while county police fraternized with the rioters.
  13. There is strong indication that the initial violence was planned and was carried out according to plan.
  14. Terrorism spread over the whole area and included threats against private individuals, against their safety, lives, property and business.
  15. National condemnation has been the chief factor causing residents of the Peekskill area to question this action. The local clergy have joined in this denunciation.
  16. Sentiment in the area is now sharply divided and there is evidence that the legal authorities are moving toward restriction of freedom of speech and assembly, presumably in violation of the Constitution.

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