On May 14, 1961, one of the buses was attacked by 200 angry people and then firebombed. A photograph of the burning bus covered the front pages of the nation’s newspapers.
In Birmingham, Alabama, riders of another bus were attacked by an angry mob. One of them was paralyzed for life.
The violence against the Freedom Riders was given international press coverage. But the riders would not be stopped; whenever a group was attacked, another group of students would get on a bus and continue the Freedom Ride.
After several more incidents and discussions with Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and his representatives, pressure was placed on the bus company and the state governments to comply with federal law, and federal marshals were sent in to protect the riders.