Rainey, Price named in U.S. suit by COFO/Front page story on July 16, 1964

Neshoba County Sheriff Lawrence Rainey and Deputy Sheriff Cecil Price were served with a summons to appear in federal court in Meridian at 9:00 a.m., Thursday, July 23, to answer a civil suit filed by the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO) against them and others.

Deputy U. S. Marshal Dan Kelly of Jackson served the summons Tuesday afternoon at the sheriff’s office here.

The plaintiffs besides COFO are Mrs. Rita Schwerner, wife of one of the missing “Civil Rights” workers, Mrs. Fannie Lee Chaney, mother of another missing “civil rights” worker; Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer of Sunflower County; Mrs. Peggy Jean Connor of Forrest County; Mrs. Mary Robinson of Madison County; John Gould, Sr. of Forrest County. All are Negroes.

Robert P. Moses, R. Hunter Morey, Ruth Schein and Dorie Ladner, all workers of the “Summer Project” for COFO in the state this summer; Moses and Ladner are Negroes, Morey and Schein are white; Rev. R. Edwin King, Nathan Hausfather, Edith Hausfather, Glenn Trimble and Eleanor Trimble. King is listed as white in the suit, while the others are not identified.

The defendants are Sheriff Lawrence Rainey, Deputy Cecil Price, Commissioner of Public Safety T. B. Birdsong, the Ku Klux Klan members in Lauderdale and Neshoba counties; Americans for the Preservation of the White Race; White Citizens Council of Mississippi, whose true names are unknown to plaintiffs, according to the suit.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs are L. H. Rosenthal of Jackson, Kunstler, Kunstler and Kinoy of New York, Smith, Waltzer, Jones and Peebles of New Orleans, Melvin L. Wulf of New York and Morton Stavis of Newark, New Jersey.

The suit charges the “defendants, are some of them, have engaged in widespread terroristic acts including beatings, arson, torture and murder in a concerted effort to intimidate, punish and deter the Negro citizens of Mississippi, as well as white persons who have dared to assist them in their effort to achieve the federal constitutional objects of freedom, equality, and the right to register and vote regardless of race and color”.

The plaintiffs ask for a temporary injunction enjoining and restraining the defendants, each of them, their agents and representatives, and all others acting in concert with them, from in any way conspiring to utilize or in any way utilizing force, violence, or any terroristic act in any attempts to deter, impede or punish the plaintiffs and all classes of citizens they represent from exercising their rights, privileges and immunities as citizens of the United States.

“An order issue ordering and directing the increase of the number of United States Commissioners in the State of Mississippi and ordering and directing that a United States Commissioner or Deputy Commissioner with full power of arrest pursuant to law, be assigned and stationed in each and every office of Sheriff in the 82 counties of Mississippi.

“That said special United States Commissioners be directed as provided by law to protect the lawful civil rights and elective franchise activities of citizens of the United States and provide for the speedy arrest of any persons in the State of Mississippi engaged or threating to engage in activities in violation of the laws of the United States which protect the civil rights of citizens and elective franchise; and that”..........the special United States Commissioners be ordered and directed to appoint in writing one or more suitable persons who shall be required to serve and execute any such warrants of arrest; and that

“Wherever required to afford reasonable protection to all persons in their constitutional rights of equality and the exercise of the elective franchise, the said special United States Commissioners or their deputies be temporarily assigned to be stationed in any public buildings or other places throughout the State of Mississippi where their presence may be required; and that

That said special United States Commissioners be ordered to report to this court at regular intervals any and all incidents of violations of the orders of this court and any and all arrests........for activities of the defendants or others acting in concert with them for violations of laws of the United States protecting the civil rights of citizens
and the elective franchise”.

Sheriff Rainey and Deputy Price were served the summons individually and as representatives of sheriffs and deputy sheriffs of the 82 counties of the state, and Col. Birdsong was served individually and as representative of the members of the State Highway Patrol.

Present when the summons was served on the Neshoba County peace officers was County Attorney Rayford Jones, who said plans were being made to draft a reply to this suit as well as counter suits for damages, fraud, defamation of character and malicious prosecution against COFO and the others listed as plaintiffs in the suit in Meridian on July 23.

The suit states as the cause of this action, “The defendants, together with numerous persons presently to the plaintiffs unknown, for many years up to and including the present date, have combined and conspired under color of statutes, ordinances, regulations, customs, and usages of the State of Mississippi to subject or cause to subject the plaintiffs, being citizens of the United States, to the deprivation of rights, privileges and immunities secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

“......have combined and conspired for the purpose of depriving the plaintiffs and the classes of persons they represent, of the equal protection of the laws and of equal privileges and immunities under the law including their right to register and vote in elections for, among others, the President, Vice President and members of Congress, and for the purpose of preventing, persuading, hindering or subverting the constituted authorities of the State of Mississippi from giving and securing to all persons within the State of Mississippi the equal protection of the laws.”