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military intervention
Most of the nightly mass meetings in Charleston were held at historic Morris Brown African Methodist Episcopal Church.* With the community beginning to be effectively organized and the hospital workers firm in their determination to win, there was mounting pressure on the hospital administration to settle the strike. Furthermore, there were rumors of some inclination on their part to do so. It was at this point that The State intervened with a massive military presence. Two battalions of National Guardsmen augmented by hundreds of state troopers and city policemen cordoned off the whole area of the city in the vicinity of the hospital complex. The hospital workers, as state employees were seeking the right to union recognition and better conditions. The State proceeded to take any decision-making authority out of the hands of the hospital administration and imposed its military power into the situation. 
  Charleston still had its balmy spring weather and its calm, peaceful routines-but these now seemed to clash incongruously with the steel-helmeted, bayonet-rifled, sun-goggle-wearing military presence. I had not seen such overriding presence of the military since Grant Park in Chicago during the Democratic National Convention in 1968. All of this because some underpaid hospital workers were seeking the dignity of union recognition from The State. 
  With the jailing of Reverend Ralph Abernathy, the President of SCLC, and Leon Davis, President of Local 1199 from New York, for leading a non-violent demonstration (the charges were "parading without a permit") the issues were joined and the polarization sharpened. 
  The Charleston Medical Association (white) opposed the strike but the Negro Medical Association endorsed the hospital workers' demands. A small Committee of Concerned Clergy in addition to the Catholic Archbishop were on public record in support of the hospital workers and a bi-partisan group of U.S. Senators in Washington provided some leverage for confronting the Nixon Administration with its responsibility to avoid another tragedy as in Memphis. 
  On May 1, The State imposed a 9:00 p.m. curfew on Charleston which, in effect, banned all night marches. The hospital workers and SCLC countered by tightening up a boycott of downtown stores which had begun the last week in April. DON'T SHOP ON KING STREET 
*In 1822, the basement of the AME Church was used by Denmark Vesey for meetings planning his slave revolt. When this was discovered the church was burned to the ground by the slave holders. The pastor was Rev. Morris Brown.