slice of life

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 April, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 April, 2006, 12:00am

From the South China Morning Post this week in 1968

American civil rights leader Martin Luther King was assassinated in Memphis in a murder that shocked the world.

From London to New Delhi, from Johannesburg to Moscow, news of the assassination brought stunned reactions and a deep sense of concern - bordering on fear - for the peace of the US, as 20 died in the wave of race hate that followed.

Rioting, looting and arson reverberated across the country, with damage estimated in the millions of dollars.

Two of America's biggest cities - Washington and Chicago - smouldered.

Ten people were killed in Chicago, five in Washington, two in Detroit and one each in New York, Minneapolis and Tallahassee, Florida.

In the nation's capital, black looters ransacked fashionable shops a minute's walk from the White House.

Troops ringed the White House and the Capitol area.

Police used tear gas during the night to break up the crowds, and dusk-to-dawn curfews and states of emergency were imposed on several cities.

Appeals for calm and restraint by president Lyndon Johnson and other national political figures were countered by calls from young militant leaders for people to join the 'black power' crusade.

An uneasy calm began returning to cities after three days of ferocious rioting.

King was killed by a tall, sandy-haired white man using a rifle with a telescopic sight from the bathroom window of a lodging house, which was located across the street from the motel where the civil rights leader was staying, Memphis police said.

King had spent most of the day in his room and had ventured onto the balcony only about three or four minutes before the fatal shot was fired.

He fell on to the concrete floor of the balcony, blood gushing from a wound in his neck.

Johnson told the nation in an address that whites and blacks had to join together to ensure that the ballot, not the bullet, would rule America.

'The dream of Martin Luther King has not died with him,' he said.

The North Vietnamese government said it was willing to enter exploratory talks with the US, even though the bombing of its territory had not completely stopped.

A government statement that was broadcast by Radio Hanoi said Johnson's announcement of a cessation in the bombing over most parts of North Vietnam fell short of the communist nation's demands.

However, the halt in bombing reflected that the US administration had been forced to bow to American and world opinion.

The government of South Vietnam welcomed moves to bring about peace talks to end the war.

Leaders of nearly all local textile industry and kaifong associations, seeking retention of governor Sir David Trench for a further term, sent two petitions to the Colonial Secretariat and the Secretariat for Chinese Affairs.

Individuals and associations were also planning to petition the queen.

They were joined in the correspondence column of the Post by Chong Hok-shan, who wrote: 'It is time for us to show our gratitude for what the governor has done for Hong Kong. What's more, the governor has one very special quality: he has a real understanding with the Chinese.'

A man and his wife serving a five-year prison sentence for possession of a bomb were given a pardon by the governor and released from prison.

They were also granted $15,000 in compensation for their detention after police discovered new evidence proving the couple's innocence.

Wong Yun-chi and Yip Hop-siu were arrested when police raided their hut seven months earlier and found a live bomb under a bed.

Six months later, a similar case in Fanling Court led police to re-examine the case against them.

Investigations showed that the same man had supplied false information in both cases.

The police were commended in court for their 'painstaking and careful investigations' leading to the release of innocent pair.