In May of 1961, a group of civil rights activists known as the Freedom Riders traveled to Montgomery, AL, where they were savagely beaten at the Greyhound Bus Station. On Saturday, nearly 52 years after the incident took place, Montgomery's current police chief issued a formal apology to the brave group.
At the historic First Baptist Church, Police chief Kevin Murphy apologized to the Freedom Riders, giving the likes of Georgia Representative John Lewis his badge and owning up to the police department's enforcement of "unjust laws" during the Freedom Riders' demonstration.
"I think what I did today should have been done a long time ago. It needed to be done. It needed to be spoken because we have to live with the truth and it is the truth," Murphy said. Rep. Lewis said he was moved by Murphy's gesture, which was the first apology that he's ever received from southern law enforcement. "I teared up. I tried to keep from crying," he admitted.
Though this is just a small step, it's still a monumental moment for the city of Montgomery, which played a pivotal role in the Civil Rights Movement.
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