…50 years ago.
NEW YORK - Bill Epton stood before the court at his sentencing hearing and delivered the fiery speech “We accuse.” In it Epton, a community organizer, accused the government of violating his First Amendment rights and of committing crimes against humanity both at home and abroad. His political party published the speech a few days later and we recently acquired a copy.
Initially indicted by a grand jury for criminal anarchy, Epton was later convicted of “advocating” criminal anarchy and sentenced to a year in prison for every twelve counts found against him. This all happened because he and his lawyer led a protest march in defiance of a city-wide ban on demonstrations.
Why the protest? On July 16, 1964, an off-duty white police officer had shot and killed a 15-year old African-American boy in Harlem.
- ANNA FRANZ, Rare Book Fellow