Retired CPD officer recalls the day he spent with Martin Luther King Jr.

Updated: Jan. 21, 2020 at 3:56 AM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - George Bredestege spent 28 years with the Cincinnati Police Department, and he has some stories to tell.

The one he says he’ll never forget? That would be the day he says he spent on Martin Luther King Jr.’s security detail.

Bredestege can’t remember the exact date King was in Cincinnati, though he says it was just shortly before King died.

That would line up with a visit King made to the city in September 1967, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer, to denounce the Vietnam War for diverting attention from the war on poverty.

FOX19 NOW sat down with Bredestege to talk about what he remembers of his experience with King.

“It was just really great,” he recalled. “I was only a young police officer at the time. I got that feeling that there is just something about that guy that is better than anybody else.”

Ahead of King arriving in town, Bredestege says, police had to find an officer willing to work the detail, which entailed being with King “all the time.”

Asked what he was thinking when the detail was first offered to him, Bredestege replied, “I don’t know if I want to do this, because of the situation at the time.”

The “situation” Bredestege references was a national cauldron of racial tensions following what historians call the ‘Long Hot Summer of 1967.’ Riots enveloped and devastated several U.S. cities, including Cincinnati, while King held firm on stances of pacifism, social justice and racial equality.

In some corners, he was celebrated for it. In others, he was vilified.

Bredestege says he did end up agreeing to work the detail. He remembers he didn’t leave King’s side while he was in town.

As for the march that occasioned King’s visit to Cincinnati, it purportedly began at Washington Park in Over-The-Rhine and ended near a church at Sixth and Broadway Streets downtown.

That is where Bredestege says King delivered his speech, no doubt with the spellbinding oratorical skills for which he was widely known.

King would be assassinated less than a year later. Bredestege admits it wasn’t until after he heard the news that he fully appreciated the man whose detail he kept that day in 1967.

“I cried, I did,” Bredestege said. “I just really liked the guy and I enjoyed speaking to him. He was a totally different person that he was put out to be. He was just a human being, just like the rest of us. He just stood out a little more.”

Copyright 2020 WXIX. All rights reserved.