53 years ago tonight, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was in the St. Johns County Jail, arrested for asking for service at the Monson Restaurant (since demolished over objections of historians and historic preservationists, the Monson is the site of controversial developer KANTI PATEL's Bayfront Hilton).
To this day, our other-directed St. Johns County Sheriff, DAVID SHOAR, is violating civil rights, as demonstrated by his coverups of the shootings of Michelle O'Connell and Andrea Sheldon.
St. Johns County Sheriff DAVID SHOAR, who changed his name from HOAR in 1994, has a website that chauvinistically defends the late evil St. Johns County Sheriff L.O. Davis with three material falsehoods, falsely claiming Dr. King was arrested here by federal agents, that LO. Davis held the town together, and that Davis was vindicated by the Florida State Senate, which voted 44-2 to remove him for corruption in 1970.
In jail, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote a letter to Rabbi Israel "Sy" Dressner, who brought sixteen rabbis and an administrator here, resulting in the largest mass arrest of rabbis in American history only one week later, on June 18, 1964. Six of the surviving rabbis visited in 2014, and I was honored to have lunch with Rabbi Dressner and Rabbi Alan Secher at a lunch in the church basement at St. Paul A.M.E. Church on the anniversary date -- we were served a modified version of Dr. King's favorite meal, suitable for rabbis, prepared by one of the ladies who cooked for Dr. King and made his pitchers of iced tea while he was in St. Augustine.
As a result of the courage of thousands of civil rights foot soldiers, Dr. King, Rev. Ralph David Abernathy, Rev. Andrew Jackson Young, Jr. (later our UN Ambassador) St. Augustine was in international headlines, helping President Lyndon Johnson break the Senate filibuster, signing the 1964 Civil Rights Act== into law on July 2, 1964. Dr. King won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, after which both Sheriff L.O. Davis and Police Chief Virgil Stuart insulted Dr. King, calling him and his supporters "outside agitators."
In 2005, corrupt St. Augustine City Manager WILLIAM BARRY HARRISS tried to block a civil rights monument, falsely telling Commissioners that only Spanish colonial history could be commemorated in the Plaza de la Constitucion (Slave Market Square), where there have long been monuments to the Confederate and other war veterans. Commissioners voted to allow the civil rights monument, but required proponents to raise the money.
In 2011, mutatis mutandis, mirabile dictu, we band of brothers and sisters in St. Augustine proudly dedicated two (2) civil rights monuments in our Slave Market Square, one to Andrew Young (paid for by the City) and one to the civil rights foot soldiers (privately funded but the City erected a base).
How cool is that?
Here's how The New York Times covered the story of Dr. King's arrest here in 1964: