SELMA, Ala., March 10, 1965 (UPI) -- At least 1,000 Negroes led by six Roman Catholic nuns tried to march to the Dallas County courthouse Wednesday but were halted by a force of city, council and state officers.
There was no violence in the early stages of the confrontation.
The marchers were met less than one block from the Browns Chapel Church start of the March by Selma Mayor Joe Smitherman, who had issued a non-march injunction earlier in the day.
"There will be no marches today," Smitherman told the Rev. L. L. Anderson of Selma, a Negro clergyman who walked just in front of the column of black-habited, white-hooded nuns.
He also denied a published report (in the New York Herald Tribune) that Mr. Johnson telephoned steel company executives in Alabama in efforts to put pressure on Wallace.
He said the White House had "made its attitude clear" in Mr. Johnson's statement
Tuesday deploring "brutality" and calling on leaders of both sides to maintain law and order until the courts can settle the situation.
Anderson said the group wanted to "march to our courthouse."
"You have had ample opportunity to become registered voters...and I expect this order to be obeyed," Smitherman replied.
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who led Tuesday's short march that was halted outside the city limits was not present Wednesday.
Selma Public Safety Director Wilson Baker told Anderson: "No demonstrations or marches beyond this point. That's all."
Anderson told the officials that they wanted to speak to them because they had been unable to voice their complaints officially before.
"You can talk all you want to, but this order is going to be obeyed," Smitherman advised the marchers.
Even as Wednesday's march was under way, word came from Birmingham, Ala., that the Rev. James Reeb, a white minister who was attacked on Selma's streets by whites Tuesday night, had lost ground in his fight for life. Reeb, who had multiple skull fractures, was described as in "poor" condition.
Doctors said his heart stopped twice Wednesday morning.
The nuns who took their places at the front of the marching column arrived only a few hours before from St. Louis. They are members of the Sisters of St. Joseph at Font Bon College in St. Louis.
They were members of a delegation of 54 representing the committee on race and religion of St. Louis. The nuns were Sisters Thomas Marie, Ernest Marie, Mary Antona, Eugene Marie, Ann Christopher, and Christina Mary.
Fathers Francis Doyle and Edward J. O'Donnell, also of St, Louis, were with the delegation.
Baker and Smitherman allowed the demonstrators to speak at will, and they ran speakers in assembly line fashion. All had the same theme - objection to the voter registration and other civil rights practices in Dallas County, Ala.