May 12, 1963
After bombs damaged the Gaston Motel and the home of A.D. King, riots broke out across 18 blocks in Birmingham, injuring more than 50 people. President John F. Kennedy sent U.S. troops trained in riot control to military bases near Birmingham and pledged to preserve order in the city. Kennedy said, “It is my hope, however, that the citizens of Birmingham themselves maintain standards of responsible conduct that will not make outside intervention necessary.” However, then-Mayor Art Hanes told The Times that Robert Kennedy and King were among those to blame for the riots. Then-Gov. George Wallace said that violence would not be tolerated: “If it takes 1,000 or 10,000 law enforcement officers … order will be maintained.”
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