Church Members Picket in Fresno – annotation

Wallace Turner. “Jailing of Newsmen Protested on Coast: 10 Busloads of Church Members from San Francisco Picket Courthouse in Fresno.” The New York Times, September 11, 1976. Transcription || PDF || Annotation

Jailing of Newsmen Protested on Coast

New York, Saturday, September 11, 1976
10 Busloads of Church Members from San Francisco Picket Courthouse in Fresno
By Wallace Turner

(Excerpted from New York Times article which included a photo of the demonstrators.)

Ten busloads of demonstrators from an activist church in a depressed district here will picket the Fresno County Courthouse around the clock this weekend to protest the jailing of four newsmen on contempt of court charges.
“We feel that the Judeo-Christian tradition’s most prominent concern is freedom,” said the Rev. Jim Jones, 44 years old. “Where the spirit of God is, there’s liberty. We’ve always been very freedom-conscious.”
Two Fresno Bee editors and [and] two reporters were jailed Sept. 3 in an attempt to make them tell the court how they gained access to secret grand jury testimony in an investigation of civic corruption. No public outcry has arisen in Fresno about the treatment of the local paper’s staff.

Apathy Scored

Mr. Jones, the pastor of the San Francisco church group picketing here, said, “The apathy is appalling. Either it’s that or despair. I don’t know what to make of it.”
He said the pickets walked all night and planned to continue until early Sunday. As they marched, they polled passersby.
“Teachers and social workers had wholesome attitudes,” Mr. Jones said. “Some of the lawyers have been more sympathetic to the court’s attitude. The most understanding people that we meet are the Chicanos. They hear of things in Mexico City that make them worry about this.”

“I was a missionary in Brazil, and I saw a coup d’etat,” he said, “and the people there were less apathetic than I think we are at this stage in American life. This is not just the press’s battle. The least we could do is stand out here and walk.”