On May 20, 1961, a mob of white persons attacked a racially mixed group of bus riders in Montgomery, Ala. The disorders lasted two hours. At least twenty of the riders were beaten, prompting the federal government to send in United States marshals to restore order.
Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy announced the Federal action in a telegram to Alabama officials. He said it was necessary to “guarantee safe passage in interstate commerce.”
Mr. Kennedy disclosed also that he would ask the Federal Court in Montgomery “to enjoin the Ku Klux Klan, the National States Rights Party, certain individuals and all persons acting in concert with them from interfering with peaceful interstate travel by buses.”