Saturday, June 18, 2016
June 18, 1964: 16 Courageous Rabbis' Arrest & Letter: "Why we went to St. Augustine"
In 1964, St. Johns County had a rebarbative evil Sheriff, LAWRENCE O. DAVIS.
In 2016, we still have a rebarbative, evil Sheriff, DAVID B. SHOAR, f/k/a "HOAR."
On June 11, 1964, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called this the "most lawless" place in America, writing to Rabbi Israel "Sy" Dressner.
In response, sixteen courageous rabbis came here, with an administrator, and 14 were arrested for praying at the Monson Motel Restaurant. Yes, praying.
Two were arrested for eating in a desegregated group at Chimes Restaurant.
They were incarcerated at St. Johns County Jail, and fed baby food. Yes, baby food.
In 2014, six of the sixteen rabbis returned. They were feted by our community for three days, but not by Sheriff SHOAR, who has KKK deputies and KKK supporters, and who refused to meet with them, canceling his appointment abruptly without explanation or apology. The putz.
I was honored to share lunch at St. Paul A.M.E. Church, were a nonagenarian prepared "Martin's favorite meal," minus pork, and I sat with Rabbi Allan Secher and Rabbi Israel "Sy" Dressner, who received Dr. King's letter and convinced his colleagues to come to St. Augustine.
It was the largest mass arrest of rabbis in American history, and here is the eloquent letter they wrote after their arrest, 52 years ago today