|Today in History: First March from Selma|
The New York Times on March 8 described the day’s events while peaceful marchers met violent resistance. Upon approaching the Edmund Pettus Bridge six blocks away, the demonstrators were ordered by the police to disperse. When they stood in place, the troopers charged at them. State and local lawmen attacked the marchers with billy clubs and tear gas driving them back into Selma.
“The first 10 or 20 Negroes were swept to the ground screaming, arms and legs flying and packs and bags went skittering across the grassy divider strip and on to the pavement on both sides,” The Times wrote. “Those still on their feet retreated. The troopers continued pushing, using both the force of their bodies and the prodding of their nightsticks.”
Alabama Police confront the Selma Marchers
Federal Bureau of Investigation Photograph
More than 50 demonstrators suffered bodily injuries as a result of meeting violent, brutal force. Reports cited the victims had suffered fractures of ribs, heads, arms and legs, in addition to cuts and bruises. That fateful march became widely known as "Bloody Sunday."