The Night of September 30, 1962

On Sunday, September 30, Meredith was flown into Oxford with 170 federal marshals.  A mob of students, joined by outsiders, started to riot and began throwing bricks and setting fires.  The highway patrol was withdrawn, not strengthened, and this was the green light for major violence.

The feds had turned the university’s administration building, the Lyceum, into the headquarters of the military’s operations.  However, the federal law enforcement officers were not prepared.  Police attempted to keep all students, faculty, employees and anyone else off campus; for a while they almost succeeded.  During that time, journalists were entering the campus by finding their own ways in.

The mob was beginning to get out of control as hostile men from around the South entered university grounds as well.  There was an estimated 2,500 men part of the mob.  The mob was chanting, yelling, and firing bullets and pellets, throwing bottles, sticks and cans.

In Washington, President Kennedy prepared to go on national television to address the nation about his decision to use federal forces on the campus of Ole Miss, to announce that Meredith was in a dormitory, and to declare that he and Governor Barnett had made a peaceful solution.  However, things on Ole Miss campus were only worsening.

Students were too busy rioting to listen to President Kennedy’s announcement.  By nine o’clock that evening the first murdered occurred with Paul Guilhard, a reporter for Agence France Press.  Guilhard was shot in the back with no witnesses.

Another fatality occurred with Oxford resident, Ray Gunter, who was a jukebox repairman.  Gunter had come to campus out of curiosity.  A stray .38 caliber shot Gunter in the forehead.

The night resulted with two deaths and one hundred and 60 marshals injured.  Two hundred rioters were arrested, less than one-sixth of whom were from Ole Miss.


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