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Student Confesses Burning of Crosses at Washington Residences

July 16, 1956
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A 24-year-old University of Virginia student confessed today to participating in the planting and burning of crosses in front of the residences of Supreme Court Justices Earl Warren, Felix Frankfurter, Sen. Herbert H. Lehman, Solicitor General Simon E. Sobeloff and an official of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

The student, Ronald E. Rowley, who refused to name his accomplices, admitted planting the crosses last night to express indignation of the Supreme Court’s decision ordering the desegregation of public schools in the south. Signs left beside the burning crosses indicated this sentiment, but one left before Mr. Sobeloff’s home read “Sobeloff. . . Jew”–the remainder of the sign was burned.

Rowley forfeited $20 in bonds rather than stand trial for misdemeanors–the “kindling of bonfires.” He was traced through the license plates on his car. The FBI was called into the case by Attorney General Herbert Brownell, who reported to the President on his disposition of the matter. Presidential press secretary James Hagerty said that the President approved the decision to call in the FBI.

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