NEW YORK (Feb. 24)
The issue of membership by New York City policemen in the John Birch Society, which has been charged with anti-Semitic activities, was revived again today by actions of Governor Rockefeller and Mayor Lindsay.
Gov. Rockefeller said, that as far as he knew, no members of the New York State police were Birch Society members and that he would oppose such membership because the “sole loyalty” of police “must be to the state.”
Mayor Lindsay called upon City Police Commissioner Howard R. Leary for a report of the activities, “if any, ” of city police who were members of the Society. He acted soon after the newly-appointed police commissioner said that he would have no objection to such membership by city police if it did not impair their efficiency.
The Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith criticized the commissioner, contending that, since the Society was on record as regarding the entire civil rights movement as a Communist conspiracy, policemen who were members could not carry out objectively duties involving civil rights problems. The ADL also asserted that anti-Semitism was “inherent” in the Birch Society philosophy. Birch spokesmen have estimated that there are 300 to 500 Birch Society members on New York’s 27, 000-man police force.
The Civil Liberties Union, in turn, criticized the ADL for its stand, asserting that, since the ADL champions civil liberties, the Jewish organization “does itself a disservice by cutting off the civil liberties of others.”