SELMA, Ala., March 9, 1965 (UPI) - President Johnson today sharply condemned police brutality against Negro demonstrators in Alabama but urged both sides in the voting rights dispute to observe law and order. Johnson's views were relayed by Justice Department officials to Gov. George C. Wallace of Alabama and the Rev. Martin Luther King, leader of the Negro demonstrators.
"I am certain Americans everywhere join in deploring the brutality with which a number of Negro citizens of Alabama were treated when they sought to dramatize their deep and sincere interest in attaining the precious right to vote," the president said.
Federal officials have been on the scene in Alabama and John Doar, assistant attorney general in charge of civil rights, joined the group there today. The White House referred to the Justice Department all inquiries as to whether U.S. marshals might be sent into Selma.
Johnson also directed the Justice Department to intervene as a friend of the court in a case pending before the Federal Court in Alabama seeking an injunction against state officials to prevent their interfering with the rights of citizens to march Selma to Montgomery.
Earlier, civil rights leaders had urged Johnson to send troops or marshals into Alabama and arrest anyone interfering with a protest march.
In angry statements issued on the eve of the second attempt at the voting rights demonstration, Roy Wilkins, James Farmer and Whitney M. Young warned that only swift and decisive federal action could relieve the tense Alabama situation.
Wilkins, executive director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), told a news conference, there will be war unless federal and state officials moved to block the violence in Alabama.
Church leaders from many major cities arrived in Alabama to join Negro demonstrators.
In Washington, civil rights demonstrators today resumed a sit-in at the Justice Department. Another scheduled a rally in front of the White House to seek federal protection for freedom marchers in Alabama.
Some senators and congressmen urged the president to intervene in Alabama to protect Negro demonstrators.
"Now the time has come to act. This brutality is senseless," said Sen. Jacob Javits (R-N.Y.).
A southern senator, Ralph Yarborough (D-Tex.) said Alabama Gov. George Wallace "needs to atone for the shame he has brought to Alabama and my own great Southland."
The National Council of Churches called on ministers of all faiths to go to Selma to help Negro demonstrators.
The National Catholic Conference for Interracial Justice said the action of Alabama troopers recalls the days of Nazi storm troopers.