Eugene Bull Connor

Eugene "Bull" Connor

Other Figures Selma, AL

Eugene "Bull" Connor was Birmingham’s Commissioner of Public Safety in 1961 when the Freedom Riders came to town. He was known as an ultra-segregationist with close ties to the KKK. Connor encouraged the violence that met the CORE Freedom Riders at the Birmingham Trailways Bus station by promising local Klansmen that, "He would see to it that 15 or 20 minutes would elapse before the police arrived."

Connor was active in Alabama politics for many decades. In 1962 he sought the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, beginning his campaign in January by promising to buy "one hundred new police dogs for use in the event of more Freedom Rides." Connor was eliminated in the May 8 primary and ultimately endorsed the eventual winner, George Wallace.

Connor stayed in the national news in the spring of 1963 when the Southern Christian Leadership Coalition (SCLC) brought Project C (for Confrontation) to Birmingham. The police tried to control thousands of nonviolent protesters, including children, with high-pressure fire hoses and police dogs. Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous "Letter from Birmingham Jail" was written during this time.

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