September 13, 1949
Howard Fast's Peekskill Affidavit
Following is the affidavit submitted by Howard Fast, novelist, to Judge Harold R. Medina, at the Foley Square trial, giving Fast's experience at the hands of the Peekskill hoodlums, and the connivance of the local and state police:
HOWARD FAST of the City of New York on his oath being duly sworn deposes and says:
I was chairman of the Paul Robeson concert originally scheduled to be held at the Lakeland Picnic Grounds near Peekskill, Westchester County, N. Y., on Aug. 28, on which day it was prevented from taking place by force and violence by hoodlums acting under police surveillance.
A week later on Sept. 4, 1949, the second concert was held in the same area about a little north of the Lakeland picnic grounds on an abandoned golf course. What follows are my own observations on police action or inaction.
The car I was driving left the golf course after the concert was over at 25 minutes after 5 p.m. We had proceeded about a short distance south on North Division Street in the direction of Peekskill when we encountered an organized barrage of rock throwing. The rock-throwing extended from that point sporadically at least five miles south into and beyond Peekskill itself.
In the course of these five miles, the car I was driving was struck six times by heavy rocks. Along this route I observed police, sometimes Westchester Country police, sometimes local police, sometimes state troopers, stationed near the rock throwers and doing nothing to stop them.
About one mile south of the golf course on North Division Street I saw a Westchester County policeman retrieve a rock that had bounded for a car and hand it to one of the hoodlums so that it might be thrown again. I saw a state trooper attack a car with his night-stick, smashing the windshield and fender.
When another car directly in front of me, with windows smashed, with occupants bleeding badly attempted to halt, a Westchester County policeman drove them on smashing at the car with his night-stick and said, "Keep going, you dirty Jew bastards."
I heard a state trooper say, "You deserve what you are getting--you dirty commie nigger lovers."
I observed a car stop and the driver bleeding from glass cuts leave his seat and get out of his car. Two Westchester County policemen drove him back into his car with their night-sticks.
I must emphasize that in any case, the rock throwers could easily have been halted by a few determined policemen. It was quite obvious to me from the actions of at least 50 policemen along the road which I have personally observed that they were acting according to a central directive--that they had been instructed to allow the rock throwing to persist. There is no other explanation in my mind for the absolute uniformity of their actions, the boldness of the rock throwers and for the police insistence that badly wounded, badly bleeding people should have no relief or aid for their wounds and no action against their attackers.
I deny newspaper stories that the rock throwers were hidden. None of the people who stoned my car made any attempt to hide. Most of them stayed in the north lane of Division Street, a lane that had little or no traffic upon it. They stayed there in full sight, flanked by police while they did their rock throwing.
On this way, as on the first, anti-Communist bias was expressed time and again by hoodlums, both those forming part of the mob and those in uniform of local, county and state police.