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APT Film IN THE WAKE OF THE ASSASSINS Marks Dual Alabama Anniversaries

01 Dec 2014

written by Mailer-Daemon


The 2007 film In the Wake of the Assassins has been upgraded to HD and will air on APT December 15 at 8 p.m.


The year 2014 marks the sixtieth anniversary of two events that brought unprecedented change to the state of Alabama. In June of 1954, attorney general-elect Albert Patterson was gunned down on the streets of mob-controlled PhenixCity after vowing to clean up the town. Weeks later governor Gordon Persons tookdrastic action and placed Phenix City under martial law – the first time a town had been placed under martial law in the state’s history. National guardsmen spent thesummer smashing down the doors of hidden casinos and burning gambling paraphernalia in giant bonfires. The town’s public officials were removed and a blue ribbon grand jury began issuing indictments – over 700 in all – against the racketeers whose gambling empire had been tolerated for decades.


Another event occurring in 1954 had a much greater impact on the state’s history and deeply affected the aftermath of the Phenix City assassination. In May the U.S. Supreme Court issued the Brown v. Board of Education decision declaring racially segregated schools unconstitutional. In August 1954 Albert Patterson’s son John, a World War II and Korean war veteran, took his father’s place as Democratic nominee for attorney general. Motivated by a desire for revenge, John Patterson would use his four years as attorney general and four years as governor to crush the Phenix City mob once and for all. Though he knew integration was inevitable, Patterson saw that race would now play a dominant role in Alabama politics and used a legal maneuver as attorney general to have the NAACP disqualified from doing business in the state. While this action had little impact on the advancing civil rights movement in Alabama, this and other legal tactics directed at slowing down integration earned Patterson political points that helped propel him to the governor’s office in the election of 1958, defeating racial moderate George Wallace and turning Wallace into the ardent segregationist he became.


In the Wake of the Assassins, a documentary film by Robert Clem that originally aired on APT in 2007 and won the best documentary award at the Fairhope Film Festival, is being released in high definition with a new website exploring this momentous and period in Alabama history and the controversial figure of John Patterson.

Murder scene

Interviews with Patterson, Albert Brewer, John Siegenthaler and other public figures along with journalists Bob Ingram, Clarke Stallworth , Frank Sikora and Ray Jenkins – whose coverage of Phenix City won a Pulitzer Prize — tell a story that includes Patterson’s support for John F. Kennedy in 1960; the death, covered up for over twenty-five years, of four Alabama air national guardsmen in the Bay of Pigs fiasco in 1961; and the violence surrounding the Freedom Rides a few weeks later. Patterson had effectively shut down the Phenix City mob but failed to control the mob violence of the Ku Klux Klan. Like Gordon Persons before him, he would be forced to declare martial law to maintain order.

The 2007 film In the Wake of the Assassins has been upgraded to HD and will air on APT December 15 at 8 p.m.


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