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Leaders of the Communist Party organizations of six of the members of the Warsaw Pact (the Soviet Union, Poland, East Germany, Bulgaria, Hungary and Czechoslovakia) met at a hastily called meeting in East Germany at Dresden to discuss the dramatic reforms that were taking place in Czechoslovakia. The meeting was attended, without notice, by several generals from the Soviet Union's Red Army. Dubcek of Czechoslovakia was heavily criticized by the other leaders, starting with his counterpart from Poland, Wladyslaw Gomulka. However, no plan for suppressing the reforms was recommended at the meeting, and Dubcek would report later that the other states pledged to maintain their policy of "non-interference in internal affairs."
At Columbia University in New York City, student Mark Rudd and about 150 other supporters of the university's branch of Students for a Democratic Society occupied the administration building to protest Columbia's continued association with the Institute for Defense Analyses. Columbia's President, Grayson L. Kirk, who was also on the IDA Board of Directors, was not present. After a few hours, the protesters left, and Columbia's Dean of Students ordered Rudd and five other student leaders to report to his office for discipline action.
The Gallup Poll organization announced the results of a cross-section survey of 1,145 registered voters and noted that, for the first time in opinion surveys, Richard M. Nixon was favored over U.S. President Lyndon Johnson and former Alabama Governor George C. Wallace in a three-way race. Nixon's was favored by 41% of voters, Johnson by 39% and Wallace by 11%.
A protest march by striking sanitation workers down Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee, began peacefully with Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ralph Abernathy at the forefront of 6,000 African-Americans, but degenerated into violence and looting, and the shooting by police of a 16-year-old boy.
A group of 500 black activists, led by Robert F. Williams, assembled at the black-owned Twenty Grand Motel in Detroit to proclaim their intention to create a Republic of New Afrika, an independent black nation located in areas of the southeastern United States that had predominantly black populations.
At the University of Paris, commonly called "the Sorbonne" because of its location, the Dean called on French police to arrest students who had been demonstrating peacefully in their demand of reforms.
On the wireless this morning I heard the news of President Johnson's astonishing broadcast announcing that he isn't going to stand for re-election and is going to dedicate his time to trying to get peace in Vietnam. It sounded momentous, but I must say my own assumption is that he's planning a tremendous comeback and this is a typical Johnson trick.
The fairest criticism of Mr Johnson's administration is that in his yearning for consensus he has failed to take the American electorate into his confidence. It was not he. but his predecessor, who blundered into the Vietnam impasse originally, and by the time he took office it was already too late to extricate his country without loss of face. Yet if he had admitted publicly the implications of fighting a limited war in South-East Asia he might have educated American public opinion to accept the necessity of losing face. Because he had left his fellow citizens so largely in ignorance he would have found it difficult to sell a reversal of policy prior to the Tet offensive, and he had to suffer the cruel experience of suddenly finding his policy rejected when that offensive broke their nerve. Similarly, the President's failure to acknowledge the crucial importance of the Vietnam war in the balance of payments equation is one of the main reasons for the present international monetary crisis. He could not admit that the war placed severe restraints on the management of the American economy without also admitting that it was rapidly changing in scope and scale. And this he could not bear to do.
At the request of Mayor Henry Loeb of Memphis, Tennessee, U.S. District Judge Bailey Brown issued a temporary restraining order to prohibit Martin Luther King's April 8 plan to lead a march of 6,000 men through Memphis. King announced that he would ignore the order, telling the press "We are not going to be stopped by Mace or injunctions or any other method that the city plans to use."
Jozef Lenárt, who had been Prime Minister of Czechoslovakia since 1963, resigned along with his cabinet in the wake of the reforms of the Prague Spring. Lenart was asked to step down at an evening meeting of the Central Committee of the Czechoslovakian Communist Party, whose members took an unprecedented vote by secret ballot. Deputy Prime Minister Oldrich Cernik was appointed to succeed Lenart.
Rioting broke out in Chicago after the Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. on the previous day, leading to 11 deaths and more than 2,000 arrests. Violence was reported in 41 cities in the U.S., with fatalities in Chicago, Washington, Detroit, New York, Minneapolis, Memphis, and Tallahassee.
Rioting broke out in Baltimore after a peaceful memorial service for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr ended. A crowd gathered on Gay Street in East Baltimore, and by 5 pm windows were being smashed and police moved in. The city declared a 10 pm curfew and sales of alcohol and firearms were banned. The crowd moved north on Gay St. up to Harford Rd. and Greenmount Ave. Mayor Thomas L. J. D'Alesandro III was unable to respond effectively. Around 8 pm, Governor Agnew declared a state of emergency.
Funeral services were held in Atlanta for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., beginning with a private service for family and friends at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where King and his father had both served as senior pastors. Those attending include Mahalia Jackson, who sings his favorite hymn, "Take My Hand, Precious Lord". Afterward, a three-mile procession, observed by an estimated 150,000 people, was made to Morehouse College, King's alma mater, for a public service.
Nixon said carefully, "Failing to go would present some serious problems." He dialed a call himself and said to the man at the other end "I'm sitting here with Safire and Garment and all the libs, talking about the King funeral. What do you think?" The man at the other end, probably John Mitchell, was firmly against Nixon's going. Nixon hung up and said "There's some feeling that we should not let ourselves become prisoners of the moment. In the long run, politicians who try to capitalize on this could be hurt. There can't be any grandstanding."
U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1968, which included the Fair Housing Act as its Title VIII section, into law. For the first time, it was a violation of federal law for a homeowner to refuse to sell or rent a dwelling to a person based upon race, color, religion, or national origin.
Rudi Dutschke, the leader of the West German left-wing movement (APO), was seriously wounded in an assassination attempt by Josef Bachmann, who shot Dutschke twice in the head outside the Socialist German Student Union (Sozialistischer Deutscher Studentenbund, or SDS) offices on the Kurfürstendamm in West Berlin. Dutschke survived after emergency surgery, but would suffer seizures for the rest of his life and would die of his brain injuries 11 years later.
German left-wing students blockaded the Springer Press HQ in Berlin and many were arrested, including Ulrike Meinhof, who would found the Baader-Meinhof Gang.
After that, the Home Secretary raised the question of the Aldermaston C.N.D march this year. [Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. The march was a normally placid annual event] He had information that dangerous elements- anarchists and communists- were going to infiltrate the march in order to assault Burghfield, which is a home security store full of ammunition, and which will have to defended in order to prevent the ammunition being blown up. From this he went on to tell us about the development of professional techniques of inciting riots. This business of the anarchists and the Trots is getting quite interesting. It all started from the Grosvenor Square demonstration the other Sunday when a relatively peaceful procession was deliberately turned into a riot by a number of anarchists some of whom, the police claim, are German students expressly brought in because they've had professional training at causing riots.