NEW YORK (Dec. 21)
“The authorities will deal properly with any misguided troublemakers who, under the guise of free speech, slander or vilify peaceful groups residing in this city,” declares Mayor LaGuardia in a letter to The Voice, organ of the Committee of Catholics for Human Rights, featured on the front page of it issue appearing tomorrow.
New York City will remain free for all who wish to express their opinions, the Mayor asserts, laying down as a guiding policy that “both freedom of speech and the right of racial and religious minorities to be free from abuse are simultaneously recognized.”
The letter, which came in reply to a request by Dr. Emmanuel Chapman, secretary of the Catholic committee, for Mayor LaGuardia’s “emphatic views on current anti-Semitic disturbances,” reports 238 cases of arrest or summons for anti-Semitic agitation in the past six months, of which 112 resulted in convictions.
“These cases have served to bring to light, in at least five instances, convictions for other crimes of some of the active participants at such meetings,” the letter continues. “The police will continue to make arrests and issue summonses for any further violations of law.”
The police have acted to space vendors of provocative newspapers apart on the streets, the Mayor reports, and have restricted the language which they may use to “a single announcement of the name and price of the periodical they sell.” The letter continues:
“To guard against any possible breach of peace, street corner meetings of these groups have, from the outset, been adequately policed by details of from six to 25 officers, depending on the size of the gathering. At one recent large meeting, 59 officers were assigned.
“The total number attending all the meetings referred to in any one week has varied from 5,000 to 20,000. Although the average attendance is about 250 at a single meeting, it has varied from 50 to 5,000 at the largest meeting held thus far, at Innisfail Park on August 23, 1939.
“The picketing of radio stations and their commercial sponsors, at the outset, was accompanied by the use of provocative placards and shouted slogans The police have limited the number of pickets, curbed undue noise, and restricted placards to a statement of the issue involved. On September 3, 1939, as part of the city’s program in dealing with the local effects here of the war abroad, the pickets before one radio station were cut from 300 to four.
“Every report, every complaint which is received is subjected to strict check and careful careful scrutiny and appropriate action is taken. The action thus far taken by the police indicates the manner in which both freedom of speech and the right of racial and religious minorities to be free from abuse are simultaneously recognized.
“The City of New York will continue to remain free for all who wish to express their opinion, but the authorities will deal properly with any misguided troublemakers who, under the guise of free speech, slander or vilify peaceful groups residing in this city.”