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RIOTS, CIVIL AND CRIMINAL DISORDERS
MONDAY, JUNE 24, 1968
Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met at 10:38 a.m. in room 3302, New Senate Office Building, pursuant to Senate Resolution 216, agreed to March 15, 1968, Senator John L. McClellan (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Members of the subcommittee present: Senator John L. McClellan,
Also present: Jerome S. Adlerman, general counsel; La Vern J.
The CHAIRMAN. The committee will come to order. (Members present at time of reconvening: Senators McClellan and Mundt.)
The CHAIRMAN. Last week, on Friday, this subcommittee heard a witness who was a former member of one of the Chicago gangs that was financed by OEO funds.
In the testimony of that witness, as was partially corroborated by previous witnesses from the police department, and which may be further corroborated, testimony was given that reflected upon Rev. John Fry, the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Chicago.
In keeping with the subcommittee's policy, when it can do so, when we have received testimony that is derogatory to the character of someone, especially someone in a position of respect and responsibility, we give him the opportunity to testify so that he may deny any false statements or charges made against him.
In keeping with that policy, the Chair felt, and members of the committee agreed, that in view of that testimony it would be appropriate and proper to have the Reverend Fry here to testify this morning in the hearings.
There are serious charges, very serious charges, in this testimony, and we propose to hear the Reverend Fry. We trust he will have a satisfactory explanation.
There will be, as I have said, and I want the record to show this at this point, other testimony along this line involving him.
But since this testimony of last Friday was of such a nature as to carry with it strong implications, if not direct accusationsand I think
they were—of very serious wrong-doing on his part, we felt he should be given an early opportunity to refute those charges.
He is here this morning, and unless you have something else, Senator Mundt, we will proceed.
Senator MUNDT. The chairman has stated it exactly correct. I agree with everything he has said. I believe that because of the nature of this testimony and the serious conflicts in evidence which will undoubtedly occur, we interrupted the flow of evidence to give Reverend Fry an opportunity to be heard; I am glad the chairman pointed out that the case which was building up had not been completed, that there are other witnesses, important witnesses, who will support various aspects of the testimony of Mr. Rose.
Possibly we will be calling Reverend Fry back again or we will be giving him an opportunity to be heard. I think all these witnesses should realize this is serious business. This is sworn testimony. Unless this committee can resolve the serious conflicts, the transcript will have to be sent to the Department of Justice, because if someone is lying then there is perjury involved.
We are not triling with rumor or fiction. This is serious business. Sometimes our committee is able to resolve the conflict in the testimony.
When not, all we can do is to ask the Attorney General to examine the evidence and prosecute those who have engaged in perjury.
I think it is only fair to all witnesses that they know the rules of
The CHAIRMAN. Very well.
You do solemnly swear that the evidence you shall give before this Senate subcommittee shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
Rev. Fry. I do swear.
TESTIMONY OF REV. JOHN R. FRY; ACCOMPANIED BY COUNSEL,
WILLIAM W. BRACKETT
The CHAIRMAN. Will you identify yourself for the record, please?
Reverend Fry. My name is John R. Fry. I am pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Chicago.
Mr. BRACKETT. Mr. Chairman, if I may identify myself as counsel
The CHAIRMAN. You are pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Chicago.
Do you have counsel with you, Reverend Fry?
Reverend Fry. Yes, sir. I would like to introduce to you Mr. William Brackett.
The CHAIRMAN. You may identify yourself, Mr. Counsel.
Mr. BRACKETT. Thank you Mr. Chairman. William W. Brackett, of the firm of Ross, Hardies, O'Keefe, Babcock, McDugald & Parsons, 122 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Ill.
If I may, Mr. Chairman, as a preliminary matter, state two facts. First, I believe the chairman is in receipt of a telegram which I think is germane to the committee's investigation.
The CHAIRMAN. If we are in receipt of it, I don't know what it is. But a telegram unsupported by affidavit or testimony is not admissible in evidence.
Mr. BRACKETT. What I was referring to, Mr. Chairman, was simply a statement which establishes the fact that Reverend Fry's activities have been with the full support and approval of the session of his church.
The CHAIRMAN. That doesn't matter. If he has done wrong, if they approve it, that wouldn't make any difference to this committee.
If he hasn't done wrong, the telegram is not proof. If they want to come here and testify, that is something else. But this committee is investigating, it is an investigating committee, and we have to observe some rules of procedure, as you can appreciate, with respect to testimony.
I don't mean we follow the rigid rules of court procedure. We don't. We can't. This is not a trial. This is an investigation.
In hearing testimony before a legislative committee, handling a bill with respect to opinion, what someone thinks, that testimony generally is not required to be sworn and certain material is filed and made a part of the record.
Here we try to keep the record verified under oath. So whatever telegram is received, you can hand it out to the press and get all the publicity you want. It would not be proper in this record since it is not sworn testimony.
Mr. BRACKETT. Very well, sir. I shall not attempt to burden the record with that, nor shall I attempt to call on any other gentlemen from the presbytery of Chicago, Mr. Donald Zimmerman, or other officers, or other members of the board of the Presbyterian Church who are here in support of Reverend Fry.
The other comment I would make is we concur wholly with Senator Mundt's statement and look forward to the opportunity of demonstrating that the charges against Reverend Fry are false.
Reverend Fry has, in accordance with the committee's rules furnished to the counsel for the committee, consistent with the 24hour
The CHAIRMAN. Yes, we know that.
The CHAIRMAN. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. If you choose, you may read it. You submitted it under the rules of the committee and it is quite in order.
You may proceed. We will try not to interrupt you except for clarification until you have finished, so that the whole continuity of your statement may be retained in your testimony until you have concluded.
You may proceed.
Reverend Fry. Gentlemen, my name is John Fry. I am pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Chicago. I am pleased to come here today, because by honestly stating the facts in answer to your questions, and by commenting frankly on matters relevant to your inquiry,
and upon some of the statements which the newspapers indicate have been given to you by witnesses, I am able to defend the youth of Woodlawn and the great Woodlawn organization.
Only secondarily do I seek to clear myself of the allegations made by Mr. George Rose before your committee last Friday. I will attend to that task first, in order to better devote myself to my major reason for appearing
First, I categorically deny the allegation that I encouraged Blackstone Rangers to practice extortion of any person, including South Side merchants. If you would invite representatives of the Woodlawn Businessmen's Association (63rd Street) and the Jackson Park Businessmen's Association (67th Street), for example, you would hear them testify that they are not being extorted by the Blackstone Rangers.
I stake my calling as a Christian, as a minister of the Gospel, as a truthful and law-abiding man on the assertion before you that I have never counseled anyone to practice extortion or any other illegal act, and that includes Blackstone Rangers and George Rose.
Second, I categorically deny the allegation that I undertook surveillance functions while Blackstone Rangers held so-called "pot parties“ on the premises of the First Presbyterian Church. This is not only untrue, but it is an insult to the intelligence of the Blackstone Rangers and myself. The use of marihuana is a politically sensitive activity. The Blackstone Rangers are aware of that fact as well as I am. I have had no need to employ mandates against the use of marihuana in the church.
But I assure you I would have employed these mandates had the occasion ever arisen. I have high regard for the integrity and sanctity of the First Presbyterian Church building and would never allow illegal activities there, and none has occurred to the best of my knowledge.
Third, I categorically deny the allegation that I received telephone tips providing me with advance warning of police raids, and that I provided the Blackstone Rangers with sufficient time to clear the premises of illegal materials. Gentlemen, when our church was first raided on November 10, 1966, I was in Milwaukee, Wis., making a speech before over 200 people at the Wauwatosa Presbyterian Church. When our church was next raided in February of this year, I was attending a meeting of the presbytery of Chicago as dozens of respected members of that august body would testify.
To my knowledge, these were the only so-called raids on the church; that is, times when police entered and searched the entire facility. The police have also several times entered our church in smaller numbers, which I considered to be unwarranted invasions. But I have never been forewarned, nor have I, of course, been able to, nor did I, warn the Rangers. The claim, like the others, is simply false.
Fourth, I categorically deny having passed commands from Mr. Eugene Hairston to Mr. George Rose, the substance of which, according to Mr. Rose's testimony, in newspaper reports
I have read, was that Mr. Rose was to kill a Mr. James Straughter. I had never heard that name until last Friday when I read news reports of Mr. Rose's totally astonishing testimony. I have never received or passed on any orders to do violence.