Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Statement by the President on the Disorders in Memphis.

March 29, 1968

THE TRAGIC events in Memphis yesterday remind us of the grave peril rioting poses. This Nation must seek change within the rule of law in an environment of social order. Rioting, violence, and repression can only divide our people. Everyone loses when a riot occurs.

I call upon all Americans of every race and creed, the rich and the poor, the young and old, our governments, businesses, unions, and churches to strive to prevent violence, to obey the law, and to preserve conditions of social stability which are essential to progress.

I urge local law enforcement to deal firmly, but always fairly and without fear, with every infraction of law, to work unceasingly to prevent riots, and to train diligently to control them should they occur.

I urge State law enforcement to prepare full support for local law enforcement whenever aid is needed to maintain order. Order must be preserved.

If Federal assistance is needed, it is available, but our system of government and our security depend on capable local law enforcement.

Note: Racial disorders had occurred in Memphis, Tenn., on March 28 in support of a strike by city garbage collectors.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Statement by the President on the Disorders in Memphis. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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