Montgomery Ala., police chief Kevin Murphy apologized to Rep. John Lewis, who was one of the Freedom Riders in the 1960s, for failing to protect them during a trip to Montgomery in 1961.
Chief Murphy offered John Lewis his badge in a gesture of reconciliation and said the Montgomery police had “enforced unjust laws” in failing to protect the Freedom Riders more than 50 years ago, NBC News reports. John Lewis and other civil rights activists were beaten by a mob after they arrived at a Montgomery Greyhound bus station in May, 1961.
Lewis, who was arrested during civil rights protests in cities across the south, said it was the first time a police chief had apologized to him. ”It means a great deal,” Lewis said in a video posted on the website of the Montgomery Advertiser. “I teared up. I tried to keep from crying.”
Lewis and other members of Congress were taking part in the 13th Congressional Civil Rights Pilgrimage to Alabama, a three-day event that also included trips to Selma, Tuscaloosa and Birmingham.
Murphy said the decision to apologize was easy. ”For me, freedom and the right to live in peace is a cornerstone of our society and that was something that Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks and Congressman Lewis were trying to achieve” Murphy said. “I think what I did today should have been done a longtime ago. It needed to be done. It needed to be spoken because we have to live with the truth and it is the truth.” Source
Some people will take offense to Chief Kevin Murphy’s apology, but I applaud him for his courage in doing so. The reality is he didn’t have to do it, but he chose to. It is a step in the right direction to help right the wrong.