Page 2


Connally Contradicted By Some Videotape Austin Gov. John Connally’s claim of being misquoted in his comments on the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King was disproved by a videotape made of his speech by a Harlingen television station. The governor was handed a note about the killing just before he addressed the Weslaco chamber of commerce. A transcript of the videotape records Connally as saying: “This is a sad commentary on the actions and reactions of people in this country today. Much, of what Martin Luther King did and much of what he said many of us could violently disagree with, but none of us should have wished him this kind of fate, because the one thing we have to remember is that we have differences. We have divergence of views for many, many reasons. He contributed much to the chaos, and the strife, and the confusion, and the uncertainty in this country, but whatever his actions, he deserved not the fate of assassination.” Connally, the next day at a hurriedlycalled press conference in San Antonio, where he had gone for the opening of HemisFair, told a crowd of reporters that the Associated Press had misquoted him by quoting out of context. “I said in the speech, as best I remember, that however much some people [italics added] might feel that Dr. King had contributed to the chaos and confusion, he did not deserve this fate. The entire thrust of the speech was that in these troubled times … men and women must exercise a high degree of restraint, that unbridled emotions cannot contribute to lasting solutions,” Connally said. Although his rebuttal was aimed at the AP, United Press International had 8 The Texas Observer POLITICAL BUTTONS Yarborough Viva Yarborough “68” McCarthy for President I Am A Dissenting Democrat \(with hand showing thumb Gladden for Lt. Governor Bring Lyndon Home! IMMEDIATE DELIVERY 100$10.00 500$45.00 1000$80.00 2500$175.00 BEIN BUTTONS, INC. 2319 Travis, Suite 143 Houston, Texas 77006 quoted Connally substantially the same way as had the AP, writing, “He contributed much to the strife and confusion of our country, but he did not deserve assassination.” The area daily newspaper, the Valley Morning. Star, did not mention Connally’s remarks about King at all. The AP reported Connally’s denial by noting in the first paragraph of its account of his San Antonio press conference that “when [Connally] was confronted with the videotape of his address Friday [he] would comment no further.” Houston Houston school officials have backed down over the suspension from school of an 18-year-old boy charged in connection with a church burglary rather than face a federal court trial that might end forever the practice of suspending students in similar situations. The case arose in mid-March when the parents of Tommy Pena, a senior at Waltrip High School, went into federal court to force By a Houston correspondent of the Observer. school officials to readmit their son to class. Young Pena was charged early in March in connection with the burglary of a loudspeaker system from a local Baptist church. The following morning he was suspended from school until the case was settled, perhaps two or three months later. Pena planned to graduate this June. Repeated attempts by his father, Humberto Pena, to talk with Waltrip principal Gordon Cotton were unsuccessful, and the assistant principal repeatedly in Since 1866 The Place in Austin GOOD FOOD GOOD BEER 1607 San Jacinto GR 7-4171 An aide told the AP, the governor would have nothing further to say on the subject. Several newspapers reported Connally’s claim of having been misquoted but did not mention the videotape; among these publications were the Houston Post and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The Houston Chronicle noted, in its account of Connally’s denial, that “a transcript of the governor’s speech as taped by a Harlingen TV station shows the governor made the statement” as the AP had quoted it. In Houston a field representative of the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People said Connally “owes the American people an apology for such a dastardly statement” about King. Memorial services for the civil rights leader were held in numerous Texas cities in the days following his murder. 0 sisted there was nothing that could be done. Other avenues of appealthrough minor and major school authorities and, finally, to the board of educationwould be time-consuming and probably would not succeed in time for young Pena to graduate on schedule. His efforts to enroll in another high school were unsuccessful. Investigation showed that Houston school principals have the authority to suspend but are not required to suspend a student charged with a violation of public laws. The reasoning behind this, explained a school spokesman, is that the student’s presence in classes is considered detrimental to other students. Once the case is settled and, provided the youth is not packed off to prison, he is readmitted to class. Finally, Pena’s attorneys filed suit in federal district court here asking that the youth be reinstated in his classes immediately. The attorneys charged that the suspension amounted to a pre-judgment of the student’s guilt or innocence by the principal before the case had been settled in court. School officials hurriedly backed down from their stand, and the case was settled quietly in a conference in the chambers of Judge Ben Connally. Pena was readmitted to classes after missing only a week of school. In settling the case out of court, school officials avoided, for the time being at least, the possibility of a permanent court injunction halting this suspension practice. And, judging from the number of similar cases which came to light in the wake of press coverage of the Pena incident, this long-standing policy may face an uncertain future at the hands of the courts or of the school board. 0 Houston Schools Shy From Court Challenge