Twelve schools with the heaviest African American enrollment rates in Peoria saw a total of 6,200 student absences in the two days following the NAACP school demonstration — about 4,200 more absences than average.
The demonstration, which took place to protest the Peoria School Board’s planned test integration program, were called to a halt by the absence of NAACP president John Gwynn.
Before leaving Peoria, Gwynn read a letter he received from Peoria Mayor Lehnhausen answering the NAACP Youth Council’s previous protest against the use of disabling gas by police at Manual High School. The letter stressed that it was not the policy of the police department to “use any weapon of police work indiscriminately” and reminded them that the police “will only use the degree of force required to maintain the peace of this city.”
The letter made no direct reference to the use of the spray.