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October 19, 1982



"Nobody thought people like us would make a fuss,'' says the pastor of a rural church two miles from the first dump for toxic wastes in North Carolina. But the people have made a fuss, marching against a landfill many allege was placed in their midst because most of them are black and poor and assumed to be without political power. The state, backed by Washington, defends the choice. But the issues of race and environment have brought black and white neighbors together in a common cause joined by civil rights leaders from elsewhere.

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So far the authorities are holding firm against them, arresting protesters such as the head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Still the lesson to officials anywhere in a democracy seems clear. Never assume nobody will make a fuss.