Jesse Washington Mutilated Castrated Burned Alive

Jesse Washington Mutilated Castrated Burned Alive

Lucy  Fryer

Jesse Washington Mutilated Castrated Burned Alive

On May 8, 1916 someone in Robinson, Texas murdered Lucy Fryer while she was alone at her house. She and her husband George were English immigrants and operated a farm. George continued to live in Robinson, unmarried, for the rest of his life. He died in 1938.

Jesse Washington Mutilated Castrated Burned Alive
Jesse Washington

An investigation determined that Jesse Washington, a seventeen-year-old black man who had worked on the Fryers’ farm for five months, was responsible. Washington denied the charges at first, but eventually confessed and indicated where the murder weapon, a hammer, could be found.

Jesse Washington Mutilated Castrated Burned Alive
Trial

On May 15, the jury took 10 minutes to reach a guilt verdict.

Jesse Washington Mutilated Castrated Burned Alive
Photographs

Fred Gildersleeve, a Waco-based professional photographer, arrived at city hall shortly before the lynching, possibly at the mayor’s request, and photographed the event. He later used some of the photos as postcards.

Jesse Washington Mutilated Castrated Burned Alive
from Equal Justice Initiative site

On May 15, 1916, after an all-white jury convicted Jesse Washington of the murder of a white woman, he was taken from the courtroom and burned alive in front of a mob of 15,000. When he was accused of killing his employer’s wife, seventeen-year-old Jesse Washington’ greatest fear was being brutally lynched – a common fate for black people accused of wrongdoing at that time, whether guilty or not. After he was promised protection against mob violence, Jesse, who suffered from intellectual disabilities, according to some reports, signed a statement confessing to the murder.

That morning, Washington was taken to court, convicted of murder, and sentenced to death in a matter of moments.

Jesse Washington Mutilated Castrated Burned Alive

Abducted

Shortly before noon, spectators snatched him from the courtroom and dragged him outside, the “promise of protection” quickly forgotten. The crowd that gathered to watch and/or participate in the brutal lynching grew to 15,000. Jesse Washington was chained to a car while members of the mob ripped off his clothes, cut off his ear, and castrated him.

The angry mob dragged his body from the courthouse to City Hall and a fire was prepared while several assailants repeatedly stabbed him. When they tied Jesse Washington to the tree underneath the mayor’s window, the lynchers cut off his fingers to prevent him from trying to escape, then repeatedly lowered his lifeless body into the fire. At one point, a participant took a portion of Washington’s torso and dragged it through the streets of Waco.

Jesse Washington Mutilated Castrated Burned Alive
Elizabeth Freeman

Jesse Washington Mutilated Castrated Burned Alive

Following news reports of the lynching, the NAACP hired a special investigator, Elizabeth Freeman. She was able to learn the names of the five mob leaders and also gathered evidence that local law enforcement had done nothing to prevent the lynching. Nevertheless, no one was ever prosecuted for their participation in the lynching of Jesse Washington. (see in May – June 1916)

Jesse Washington Mutilated Castrated Burned Alive
The Crisis

WEB DuBois helped found The Crisis in 1910 as the official magazine of the NAACP.  In the June 1916 edition of The Crisis published Lelia Amos Pendleton’s “An Apostrophe to the Lynched.”

Jesse Washington Mutilated Castrated Burned Alive

An Apostrophe to the Lynched

by Lelia Amos Pendleton 

Jesse Washington Mutilated Castrated Burned Alive

HANG there, O my murdered brothers, sons of Ethiopia, our common Mother: Hang there, with faces upturned, mutely calling down vengeance from the Most High God!

Call down vengeance upon this barbarous nation; a nation of hypocrites, timeservers and gold-worshippers; a nation of ranting, ramping, stamping creatures who call themselves evangelists and who practice the evangel of restriction and proscription; a nation of wolves who hunt in packs and who skulk away if caught alone; a nation always ready to “avenge” itself against the weak, but with mouth filled with ready excuses for not attacking the strong.

Hang there until their eyes are unsealed and they behold themselves as they are and as they appear “to an amazed world! Hang there until their ears are opened to the ominous sounds of warning! Hang there until their foresworn souls perceive the true meaning of Liberty and Justice, until they catch a glimmer of the meaning of Christianity!

Martyrs to lawlessness, bigotry prejudice, if you by dying can accomplish some of these things, Death will have been swallowed up in Victory. 

Jesse Washington Mutilated Castrated Burned Alive

The First Waco Horror

Jesse Washington Mutilated Castrated Burned Alive

In 2005 Patricia Bernstein published  The First Waco Horror. Her first sentence reads, “The setting for the Waco Horror was no dusty little dump of a town, no Tumbleweed Junction spring up at an isolated crossroads.” From there she continues to try to place one of the most horrendous events in American criminal history in context. She does not excuse the action.

Web resources:

Jesse Washington Mutilated Castrated Burned Alive
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May 15 Peace Love Art Activism

May 15 Peace Love Art Activism

US Labor History

Samuel Gompers, et al v. Buck’s Stove and Range Company

May 15, 1906: in Samuel Gompers, John Mitchell, and Frank Morrison v. Buck’s Stove and Range Company, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Samuel Gompers and other union leaders for supporting a boycott of the Buck Stove and Range Co. in St. Louis, where workers were striking for a 9-hour day. A lower court had forbidden the boycott and sentenced the unionists to prison for refusing to obey the judge’s anti-boycott injunction. (Cornell dot edu article) (see Dec 10)

Bailey v. Drexel Furniture Co

May 15, 1922: the US Supreme Court ruled the 1919 Child Labor Tax Law unconstitutional as an improper attempt by Congress to penalize employers using child labor. The Court indicated that the tax imposed by the statute was actually a penalty in disguise. (Oyez article) (LH, see June 22; Child Labor, see February 3, 1941)

May 15 Peace Love Art Activism

Fair Housing

Separate but equal

May 15, 1911: Baltimore Mayor J. Barry Mahool, who was known as an earnest advocate of good government, women’s sufferage, and social justice, signed into law “an ordinance for preserving peace, preventing conflict and ill feeling between the white and colored races in Baltimore city, and promoting the general welfare of the city by providing, so far as practicable, for the use of separate blocks by white and colored people for residences, churches and schools.”‘ Baltimore’s segregation law was the first such law to be aimed at blacks in the United States, but it was not the last. Various southern cities in Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, North Carolina, and Kentucky enacted similar laws. (see November 5, 1917)

May 15 Peace Love Art Activism

BLACK HISTORY

see Jesse Washington for much more

May 15 Peace Love Art Activism

[From Equal Justice Initiative] May 15, 1916: after an all-white jury convicted Jesse Washington of the murder of a white woman, he was taken from the courtroom and burned alive in front of a mob of 15,000.

When he was accused of killing his employer’s wife, seventeen-year-old Jesse Washington’ greatest fear was being brutally lynched – a common fate for black people accused of wrongdoing at that time, whether guilty or not. After he was promised protection against mob violence, Jesse, who suffered from intellectual disabilities, according to some reports, signed a statement confessing to the murder. On the morning of May 15, 1916, Washington was taken to court, convicted of murder, and sentenced to death in a matter of moments. Shortly before noon, spectators snatched him from the courtroom and dragged him outside, the “promise of protection” quickly forgotten.

The crowd that gathered to watch and/or participate in the brutal lynching grew to 15,000. Jesse Washington was chained to a car while members of the mob ripped off his clothes, cut off his ear, and castrated him. The angry mob dragged his body from the courthouse to City Hall and a fire was prepared while several assailants repeatedly stabbed him. When they tied Jesse Washington to the tree underneath the mayor’s window, the lynchers cut off his fingers to prevent him from trying to escape, then repeatedly lowered his lifeless body into the fire. At one point, a participant took a portion of Washington’s torso and dragged it through the streets of Waco. During the lynching, a professional photographer took photos which were later made into postcards.

Following news reports of the lynching, the NAACP hired a special investigator, Elizabeth Freeman. She was able to learn the names of the five mob leaders and also gathered evidence that local law enforcement had done nothing to prevent the lynching. Nevertheless, no one was ever prosecuted for their participation in the lynching of Jesse Washington. (see in May – June 1916)

Freedom Riders, May 15, 1961
  • Following the attacks of May 14, CORE Freedom Riders attempt to continue their ride, but bus drivers refused to leave the station for fear of their lives. Amid bomb threats, jeers, and other methods of intimidation, the Riders decided to travel to New Orleans by plane.
  • President John F. Kennedy received word of the attacks against Freedom Riders in Birmingham, AL and Anniston, AL on May 14. The news came as he was preparing for the June 3, 1961 Vienna Summit with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, the first such summit of his term in office. Kennedy was not pleased by the distraction posed by the Freedom Riders, telling an aide, “Can’t you get your goddamned friends off those buses?”  (2006 NPR story) (see May 17)
George Whitmore, Jr

May 15, 1967: Whitmore’s third trial opened before Justice Julius Helf and in Kings County Supreme Court and jury selection completed. In view of the Miranda ruling, the confession is inadmissible. The case now rests entirely on Elsa Borrero’s identification. (see Whitmore for expanded story)

May 15 Peace Love Art Activism

Vietnam

South Vietnam Leadership

May 15, 1966: on Premier Ky’s orders, without notifying President Thieu or the U.S., a pro-government military force arrived in Da Nang to take control of the city from the Buddhist Struggle movement protesting against the government and American influence.

Washington, DC protest

May 15, 1966: 10,000 protested Vietnam War in Washington, DC (V & SVL, see May 18)

Jackson State

May 15 Peace Love Art Activism

May 15. 1970: killings occurred in Jackson, Mississippi  at Jackson State (now Jackson State University). On May 14, 1970, city and state police confronted a group of student protesters against the Vietnam War, specifically the US invasion of Cambodia. Shortly after midnight, the police opened fire, killing two students [James Earl Green, 17, a senior at nearby Jim Hill High School and Phillip Lafayette Gibbs, 21, a Jackson State junior] and injured twelve. (NYT article) (Vietnam & Cambodia, see May 20; FS, see June 13)

May 15 Peace Love Art Activism

Crime and Punishment

In re Gault

May 15, 1967: in the case of In re Gault, the Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional many of the procedures used in juvenile courts. These omissions included the right be be notified of the charges, the right to confront and cross-examine witnesses, protection against self-incrimination, the right to counsel, and the right to appeal decisions. These, of course, were protections long guaranteed to adults in criminal courts. Underlying the procedures that the Court declared unconstitutional was the philosophy of parens patriae, the belief that juvenile courts should act as a parent and consequently be free of formal legal constraints. (Oyez article) (see February 6, 1974)

Graham v. Connor

May 15, 1989: in Graham v. Connor, the US Supreme Court ruled in a 9-0 decision to uphold the decisions of the lower courts against Graham primarily on technical legal grounds. The justices unanimously agreed that Graham’s legal team should have challenged the police actions as a violation of Graham’s Fourth Amendment expectation of “objective reasonableness,” instead of as a violation of due process. But a six-member majority of the Court went even further.

The majority decision was written by Chief Justice William Rehnquist. Rehnquist argued that the issue was “whether the officers’ actions are ‘objectively reasonable’ in light of the facts and circumstances confronting them, without regard to their underlying intent or motivation. The ‘reasonableness’ of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, and its calculus must embody an allowance for the fact that police officers are often forced to make split-second decisions about the amount of force necessary in a particular situation.”

Rehnquist rejected the idea that courts should evaluate actions based on “the 20/20 vision of hindsight.” According to Rehnquist, “The Fourth Amendment inquiry is one of objective reasonableness’ under the circumstances, and subjective concepts like ‘malice’ and ‘sadism’ have no proper place in that inquiry.” In other words, Rehnquist believed that if a police officer “reasonably” felt threatened by someone, no matter what the actual details of the incident, he or she had the right to employ whatever force they felt was necessary, even lethal force, to protect themselves and others. (Oyez article) (C & P, see June 28, 2004; Black & Shot, see November 25, 2006)

May 15 Peace Love Art Activism

FREE SPEECH

People’s Park and James Rector

May 15 Peace Love Art Activism

May 15, 1969:  Gov Reagan sent 300 California Highway Patrol and Berkeley police officers into People’s Park and had a chain link fence erected. That afternoon a protest was held and Alameda County Sheriff’s deputies used shotguns to fire “00” buckshot at people sitting on the roof at the nearby Telegraph Repertory Cinema, fatally wounding student James Rector. Rector was a bystander, not a protester. (Daily California article) (see June 9)

May 15 Peace Love Art Activism

Terrorism

Arthur Bremer

May 15 Peace Love Art Activism

May 15, 1972, Arthur Bremer tried to assassinate George Wallace at a presidential campaign rally in Laurel, Maryland. Wallace was hit four times. (2012 Washington Post article) (see Aug 4)

Cross-burning

May 15, 2014: the Justice Department and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Alabama announced that Chief U.S. District Judge W. Keith Watkins had sentenced Steven Joshua Dinkle, 28, former exalted cyclops of the Ozark, Alabama chapter of the International Keystone Knights of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), to serve 24 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release for his role in a cross burning on May 8, 2009. (DoJ article) (see June 12)

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

May 15 Peace Love Art Activism

May 15, 2015: two years after the bombing, a federal jury condemned Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to death for his role in the 2013 Boston Marathon attack. The decision rejected the defense case and found that death was the appropriate punishment for six of 17 capital counts — all six related to Mr. Tsarnaev’s planting of a pressure-cooker bomb on Boylston Street, which his lawyers never disputed. Mr. Tsarnaev, 21, stood stone-faced in court, his hands folded in front of him, as the verdict was read, his lawyers standing grimly at his side.  (WBUR article) (see June 17)

May 15 Peace Love Art Activism

Religion and Public Education

May 15, 1972, in Wisconsin v. Yoder, the Supreme Court found that Amish children could not be placed under compulsory education past 8th grade. The parents’ fundamental right to freedom of religion outweighed the state’s interest in educating its children. (Oyez article) (see January 5, 1982)

May 15 Peace Love Art Activism

Soviet war in Afghanistan

May 15 Peace Love Art Activism

May 15, 1988: after more than 8 years of fighting, the Red Army began withdrawing from Afghanistan. (2014 Atlantic article)

May 15 Peace Love Art Activism

Right to die

Jack Kevorkian

May 15, 1992: Susan Williams, a 52-year-old woman with multiple sclerosis, died from carbon monoxide poisoning in her home in Clawson, Michigan. (see Kevorkian for expanded story)

May 15 Peace Love Art Activism

Feminism

United States v. Morrison

May 15 Peace Love Art Activism

May 15, 2000: the Supreme Court held that parts of the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 were unconstitutional because they exceeded congressional power under the Commerce Clause and under section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. (NYT article) (see Sept 28)

May 15 Peace Love Art Activism

LGBTQ

In Re: Marriage Cases

May 15, 2008: the California Supreme Court determined that a state statute excluding same-sex couples from marriage was unconstitutional. Almost immediately, an initiative to overturn the court ruling (Proposition 8) qualified for the November 2008 ballot. Same-sex couples begin marrying on June 16. (NYT article) (California, see November 4, 2008; LGBTQ, see  May 22, 2008)

May 15 Peace Love Art Activism

Stop and Frisk Policy

Homicide rates

May 15, 2012: the NYPD credited declining homicide rates to stop-and-frisk practices, but New York City public radio station, WNYC, analysis found an increase in stop-and-frisk did not always result in fewer homicides.

Livery cab passengers

May 15, 2012: the city settled the federal lawsuit that challenged the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk of livery cab passengers. (see May 16)

May 15 Peace Love Art Activism
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