The Militant received the following letter from reader August Nimtz in Twin Cities, Minnesota, commenting on the article "Does 'Broken Windows' Policy Cause Police Brutality?" in the Feb. 23 issue.
The Militant is right on in its article on police brutality and what it will take to eliminate it as well as the daily "crime and gang violence" working people have to live with. "Ties of solidarity among working people are strengthened in times of growing social struggles" — the beginning of a real answer to the latter. At the height of the Black rights movement 50 years ago, the Feb. 1, 1965, Militant reported on a study on how crime in the Black neighborhood dropped during the most intense moments of the mass mobilizations in one of the movement's sites. Militant readers, anti-police brutality fighters in particular, would also benefit in knowing more about how the Cuban Revolution was able to dismantle the police force and replace it with one that serves the interests of working people.
Below we reprint the article Nimtz refers to, with the original headline.
How to Cut the Crime Rate: Mobilize People for Rights
A Johns Hopkins and Howard University study of crime patterns in Cambridge, Md., showed a clear link between "direct action" civil rights activity and a reduction in crimes among Negroes. The study showed that in the months of May through September in 1962 and 1963, during which there was considerable civil-rights activity in Cambridge, the Negro crime rated dropped to 25 per cent of the 1961 rate.
There was no corresponding difference in the crime rate of Cambridge whites.
According to the Jan. 15 Baltimore Sun, the university researchers drew the following conclusions:
"1. Aggressions built up by the system of segregation, instead of being dammed up or unleashed against other Negroes, were channeled into the nonviolent protest movement …"
"2. All levels of the Negro community were affected by the movement. Even Negroes who took no active part in the protests were deterred from crime by a spirit of unity and common concern for the movement."
The civil-rights movement in Cambridge, led by the Cambridge Nonviolent Action Committee under the direction of Gloria Richardson, was one of the most militant in the country. For several months in the summer of 1963 the National Guard was called into Cambridge to maintain martial law.
Despite this the CNAC won a number of demands in Cambridge, embodied in a July 23, 1963 five point program. These included integration of the Dorchester County schools, appointment of a bi-racial city committee, integration of all public places of accommodation, and the proposal for the building of low-rent public housing.
The university investigation of the effects of the Cambridge movement put its finger on a key point when it concluded: "The most important single fact is that [the Cambridge movement] was conducted almost entirely by lower class Negroes."