Tag Archives: Death penalty

SC Electrocutes George Stinney Jr

SC Electrocutes George Stinney Jr

June 16, 1944

When deep racial hatred blinds a community, there will be miscarriages of justice.  In the United States, such false accusations have happened regularly with black people young and old.

SC Electrocutes George Stinney Jr

George Junius Stinney , Jr

The story of George Junius Stinney , Jr is another tragic example of that ignorant hatred.

14-year-old  George Stinney, Jr. lived in Alcolu,  South Carolina with his father, George Stinney, Sr., mother Aime, brothers Charles, 12, and John, 17, and sisters Katherine, 10, and Aime, 7. George Sr. worked at the town’s sawmill. The family lived in company housing.

March 23, 1944

SC Electrocutes George Stinney Jr

On the afternoon of March 23, 1944, Betty June Binnicker, 11, and Mary Emma Thames, 7, failed to return home. The next morning searchers, George Stinney, Sr among them, discovered the girls’ bodies lying in a water-filled ditch. Both girls’ skulls were crushed and one of the girl’s bicycles lay on top of their bodies.

After a short investigation, police took George Stinney, Jr, and his brother John into custody. They released John, but a few hours later, Stinney confessed to murdering the girls.

The sawmill fired Stinney, Sr and the family had to move and rarely saw George, Jr again because his incarceration was 50 miles away.

SC Electrocutes George Stinney Jr

April 24, 1944

A mere 10 days later, the State tried Stinney for the  girls’ murders. Records indicate 1,000 people crammed the courthouse. Blacks were not allowed inside.

The jury was all-white and the trial concluded that same day with Judge P.H. Stoll presiding. The court had appointed Charles Plowden as Stinney’s counsel. Plowden was a tax commissioner campaigning for a Statehouse seat.

Solicitor Frank McLeod represented the State. He presented evidence from law enforcement that Spinney confessed to the crime. While law enforcement testified that a confession occurred, no written confession exists in the record today. Nothing remains from documentary evidence indicating whether the court admitted a murder weapon, bloody clothes or other demonstrative evidence.

Plowden called no witnesses, did not cross examine, and never filed an appeal. No one challenged the sheriff’s recollection of the confession.

The jury deliberated 10 minutes and found Stinney guilty.

The same day Judge P.H. Stoll sentenced Stinney to death by electrocution.

The entire process had lasted two-hours.

No appeals were filed and no stays of execution requested.

SC Electrocutes George Stinney Jr

Last minute protest

South Carolina Electrocutes George Stinney Jr  

The day before the scheduled execution, the NAACP protested to Governor Olin D Johnston. The execution proceeded.

SC Electrocutes George Stinney Jr

South Carolina Electrocutes George Stinney Jr

On June 16, 1944, Stinney became the youngest person to die in the electric chair and the youngest person executed in the United States in the 20th century. At 95 pounds, the straps don’t fit and an electrode was too big for his leg. His feet could not touch the floor.

According to writer Joy James, as the first 2,400-volt surge of electricity hit Stinney, the mask covering his face slipped off, “revealing his wide-open, tearful eyes and saliva coming from his mouth.”

His family buried his burned body in an unmarked grave hoping the anonymity would allow him to rest in peace.

SC Electrocutes George Stinney Jr

70 years, 5 months, 29 days later

On December 17, 2014 South Carolina Circuit Judge Carmen T. Mullen vacated Stinney’s murder conviction. Judge Mullen called it a “great and fundamental injustice,.”

Mullen did not rule that the conviction of Mr. Stinney for the murder of two white girls was wrong on the merits. She did find, however, that the prosecution had failed in numerous ways to safeguard Swinney’s constitutional rights from the time police took him into custody until his death by electrocution.

The all-white jury could not be considered a jury of the teenager’s peers, Judge Mullen ruled, and Stinney’s court-appointed attorney did “little to nothing” to defend him. Stinney’s  confession was most likely coerced and unreliable, Mullen added, “due to the power differential between his position as a 14-year-old black male apprehended and questioned by white, uniformed law enforcement in a small, segregated mill town in South Carolina.” [full NYT article]

SC Electrocutes George Stinney Jr

Continued blindness

Frankie Bailey Dyches, the niece of one of the victims, disagreed.  “I believe that he confessed,” said Dyches, who was born after the 1944 killings. “He was tried, found guilty by the laws of 1944, which are completely different now — it can’t be compared — and I think that it needs to be left as is.”

The Conservative Headlines site has stated, “Make no mistake: George Stinney Jr was 100% guilty. The white Marxists, the media, and black power groups are perfectly comfortable pretending like he is innocent to advance their political agenda. They are completely comfortable spitting on the graves of two little dead girls. To advance the cause of the far-left, murderous thugs are converted into saints and innocent victims into criminals.”

In 2014, the A.N.D. erected a marked grave.

SC Electrocutes George Stinney Jr

SC Electrocutes George Stinney Jr
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November 4 Peace Love Activism

November 4 Peace Love Activism

DEATH PENALTY

SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE
November 4 Peace Love Activism
November 4, 1646:  the Massachusetts General Court approved a law requiring all members of the colony to recognize the Bible as the Word of God, under penalty of death. (DP, see May 27, 1647; Separation, see April 21, 1649)
Rose Bird defeated
November 4, 1986: California Chief Justice Rose Bird and two other 'liberal' members of the state supreme court were ousted in a retention election. The election followed a bitter campaign that centered on the three justices' records in death penalty cases.  (see November 1987)

BLACK HISTORY

Benjamin Ryan Tillman
November 4, 1890: Benjamin Ryan Tillman was elected governor of South Carolina. An outspoken white supremacist, Tillman advocated for violence against African American voters and staunchly opposed educational access for black people.

Tillman’s political career catapulted to success after his involvement in the 1876 Hamburg Massacre, where white men rioted and killed nine people in a predominantly African American town in South Carolina. In his gubernatorial campaign, Tillman promised to keep the state’s African American population in a position of permanent inferiority. In his inaugural address and throughout his administration, he emphasized white supremacy and the necessity to revoke African Americans’ rights. Concerning the education of African Americans, Tillman argued, “when you educate a Negro, you educate a candidate for the penitentiary or spoil a good field hand.”

He served two terms as governor and played a critical role in the 1895 South Carolina Constitutional Convention. In order to vote under the revised constitution, a man had to own property, pay a poll tax, pass a literacy test, and meet certain educational standards. The 1895 constitution disenfranchised African American voters and served as a model for other southern states.


Tillman was elected United States Senator for South Carolina in 1895, and he served in this capacity for twenty-four years. Throughout his tenure, he opposed African American equality, women’s suffrage, and any federal interference in state government. Tillman’s philosophy helped shape the era of oppression and abuse of African Americans throughout the South. A statue honoring Tillman still stands on the grounds of South Carolina’s State Capitol and as with many statues today, there are many who feel that such recognition is undeserved. (Charleston City Paper article) (see September 1, 1891)
National Equal Rights League

November 4, 1922: the National Equal Rights League presented a petition signed by thousands of people from fifteen States calling for Congress to consider the Dyer Anti-Lynching bill. (see Nov 28) 
Statue of Liberty plot
November 4, 1965: Federal Judge William Herlands sentenced Robert Collier to 5 years in prison; Walter Bowe received a three-year sentence; and Khaleel Sayyed received an 18-month sentence for their conspiracy to blow up the Statue of Liberty on June 14, 1965.  (BH, see Nov 8; Terrorism, see September 5 – 6, 1972)
George Whitmore, Jr
November 4, 1988: Richard Robles, who had served 24 years in the famous ''career girls'' murder case, was denied parole for a second time. Mr. Robles, 45 years old, was given a life sentence for the killing of Janice Wylie, a Newsweek researcher, and Emily Hoffert, an elementary-school teacher, in an East Side apartment on Aug 28, 1963. ( see Whitmore for full story)
Autherine Lucy Foster
In 1989: Autherine Lucy Foster again enrolled at the University of Alabama. Her daughter Grazia also was a student at the time. (BH, see Feb 10; U of A, see May 9, 1992)
Barak Obama

November 4, 2008:  Barak Obama elected President. First Black American elected President of the US. (click for transcript of Obama's victory speech >>> Victory speech) (see Nov 5)
Murders of Three Civil Rights Workers
November 4, 2013: the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal from Edgar Ray Killen, convicted of manslaughter in 2005 for the 1964 slayings of three civil rights workers in what became known as the "Mississippi Burning" case. The decision means the justices won't review lower-court rulings that found no violations of Killen's constitutional rights during his trial in Mississippi. (see January 4, 2014)

 November 4 Music et al

Bob Dylan/Carnegie Chapter Hall

November 4 Peace Love Activism

November 4, 1961: Dylan played a concert at Carnegie Chapter Hall, a smaller room than the famous bigger room. There are varying reports on how many people attended the concert. The number ranges between 47 and 53, pretty much all friends and family.

Suze Rotolo
In mid-December 1961,: shortly after recording his first album for Columbia, Dylan moved into his first rented apartment in the middle of West Fourth Street, a tiny, scruffy place above Bruno's Spaghetti Shop, and persuaded his girlfriend, Suze Rotolo, to move in with him. (see January 1962)
The Beatles/Royal Variety Show
November 4
The Beatles greet the Queen Mother
November 4, 1963: The Beatles performed their legendary Royal Command Performance at the Prince of Wales Theatre, London, before the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret. Technically The Beatles were 7th on a 19-act bill, but there was no doubt that they were, in fact, the main attraction. The Beatles called upon their masterful showmanship to put on a stunning four-song performance. They began playing their first song, "From Me to You", before the curtain opened. John and Paul, at the end of the first song, moved their microphones nearer to the audience. After playing their second song, "She Loves You", The Beatles bowed to the audience. A nervous Paul cracked a joke about Sophie Tucker being The Beatles' favorite American group, then they performed "Till There Was You". At the end of that song, Paul and John moved their microphone stands back to their original position. After waiting for the applause to die down, John introduced "Twist and Shout", requesting that persons in the cheaper seats join in by clapping their hands, while everyone else should just "rattle your jewelry". At the end of "Twist and Shout", Ringo came down from his drum kit and joined the others; as the curtain closed behind them, they bowed to the audience, then they bowed to the royal box, and then they ran off the stage to thunderous applause.

The show was taped for later broadcast on both television and radio. Their entire performance was broadcast on television, by ATV, on November 10. BBC radio broadcast all but "She Loves You", also on November 10. The Beatles were a sensation all across Britain, the Royal Command Performance being a huge triumph for them. The Beatles were the entertainment kings in the UK; soon they would be ready to tackle America and the rest of the world. Three of the performances ("She Loves You", "Till There Was You", and "Twist and Shout") are included on "The Beatles Anthology 1" (Disc 2, Tracks 1-3).(see Nov 11 - 12)

FREE SPEECH

November 4, 1964:  NYC police arrested comedian Lenny Bruce  for obscenity. He was arrested many times in his career on charges of obscenity (October 4, 1961). His style of humor, radical for its time, savagely attacked American hypocrisy on sex, religion and race. Many believe that his arrests were provoked more by his attacks on the Catholic Church than for the dirty words in his routines. (see Dec 2)
November 4 Peace Love Activism

Iran hostage crisis

November 4
Iranian students climb over the wall of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran on November 4,
November 4, 1979, : Iran hostage crisis begins: 3,000 Iranian radicals, mostly students, invade the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and take 90 hostages (53 of whom are American). They demand that the United States send the former Shah of Iran back to stand trial. (click >>> NYT article re Students invade embassy) (see Nov 12)

USS Cole

November 4

November 4, 2002: Qaed Salim Sinan al-Harethi, a suspected al-Qaeda operative, who was believed to have planned the Cole attack, was killed by the CIA using an AGM-114 Hellfire missile launched from an MQ-1 Predator drone. (NYT article) (see Nov 25)

Ronald Reagan elected President

November 4

November 4, 1980: Ronald Reagan defeated incumbent President Jimmy Carter, exactly 1 year after the beginning of the Iran hostage crisis. (click >>> "After the celebrations over Ronald Reagan's spectacular victory, come the hangovers.")

Jack Kevorkian
November 4, 1996: Kevorkian's lawyer announced a previously unreported assisted suicide of a 54-year-old woman. This brings the total number of his assisted suicides, since 1990, to 46. (see June 12, 1997)

Gay marriage

November 4

No on Prop 8 posterNovember 4, 2008: California voters approved a ban on same-sex marriage called Proposition 8. The attorney general of California, Jerry Brown, asked the state's Supreme Court to review the constitutionality of Proposition 8. The ban threw into question the validity of the more than 18,000 marriages already performed, but Attorney General Brown reiterated in a news release that he believed the same-sex marriages performed in California before November 4 should remain valid and the California Supreme Court, which upheld the ban in May 2009, agreed, allowing those couples married under the old law to remain that way; also, voters in Arizona, and Florida approved the passage of measures that ban same-sex marriage. Arkansas passed a measure intended to bar gay men and lesbians from adopting children. (click for article re day before California vote >>> Rush to marry) (see Nov 12)

Marijuana

Michigan
November 4, 2013: "Sixty-three percent of Michigan voters approved Proposal 1 (the law took effect on December 4, 2008). It removed state-level criminal penalties on the use, possession and cultivation of marijuana by patients who possess written documentation from their physicians authorizing the medical use of marijuana." (see February 25, 2009)
November 4, 2014
  • Oregon voters approved Measure 91, a proposal which would legalize the possession of up to eight ounces of cannabis, a limit that was eight times higher than that of Washington and Colorado. The initiative would also allow everyone 21 and older to cultivate up to four plants, and purchase cannabis from state-licensed outlets, which would open by 2016.
  • In Alaska, Ballot Measure 2 was approved with 52% of the vote. This initiative legalized the possession of up to an ounce of cannabis, as well as the private cultivation of up to six plants. The proposal also allowed for cannabis retail outlets. (see February 24, 2015)
  • In Washington D.C voters approved Initiative 71. Once it takes effect – after a 30-day congressional review period – the proposal would legalize the possession of up to two ounces of cannabis for those 21 and older, in addition to allowing for the private cultivation of up to six plants. Although the initiative did not allow for cannabis retail outlets, the district’s Council was considering legislation to change that.
  • In California, voters approved Proposition 47, a proposal which removed felony charges for numerous nonviolent crimes such as drug possession and petty theft. The initiative, which would free up prison space and save the state hundreds of millions of dollars annually, was approved with 57% of the vote.
  • In Florida, Amendment 2 (legalization of medical cannabis ) was defeated, failing to garner the 60% required to be passed into law.
  • In Michigan, voters gave approval to cannabis decriminalization initiatives in the cities of Saginaw, Huntington Woods, Pleasant Ridge, Port Huron, Mount Pleasant and Berkley. These initiatives removed criminal penalties within the city for the possession, use and transfer of up to an ounce of cannabis. Similar initiatives were voted down in Clare, Frankford, Harrison, Lapeer and Onaway counties.
  • In Maine, voters in South Portland passed an initiative to legalize up to an ounce of cannabis, joining Portland which approved a similar initiative last year. A legalization initiative was rejected in Lewiston (see Dec 13)

Women’s Health

November 4, 2013:  the US Supreme Court left intact a state court decision invalidating an Oklahoma law that effectively banned the so-called abortion pill RU-486. (see Nov 26)

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October 30 Peace Love Activism

October 30 Peace Love Activism

Anarchism in the US and Emma Goldman

 October 30, 1906: police arrest Goldman in Manhattan while attending an anarchist meeting called to protest police suppression of free speech at a previous meeting. She was charged with unlawful assembly for the purpose of overthrowing the government under the new criminal laws against anarchy. (NYT article) (see Jan 6, 1907)

October 30, 1947,  McCarthyism

HUAC
  • Ring Lardner, Jr., an Oscar-winning screenwriter, refused to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) about his political beliefs and associations. As a result, he was convicted of contempt of Congress and sentenced to prison. Lardner was one of the “Hollywood Ten,” who refused to cooperate with HUAC, went to prison, and were then blacklisted by the film industry. He famously told the committee that he could answer one of their questions, but “I would hate myself in the morning.” Variety magazine commented about the end of the HUAC Hollywood hearings: “Commie Carnival Closes: An Egg is Laid.” Lardner later earned his second Academy Award as the screenwriter of the enormously successful film M*A*S*H (1970), which then became the basis for the hugely successful and Emmy-winning television series of the same name.The Hearing.
  • The famous German playwright Bertolt Brecht testified before HUAC on this day as one of the hostile witnesses in the HUAC investigation of alleged Communist influence in Hollywood. The day after his testimony, Brecht left the U.S. for East Germany and never returned. Brecht is best known among Americans as the co-author of the musical, Threepenny Opera, with composer Kurt Weill, which features the now-famous song, Mack the Knife. One of the ironies of Threepenny Opera is the Brecht was a committed Marxist and yet earned considerable income from the original state production in Germany and then considerably more from the royalties from Mack the Knife. (see Nov 24)
The Photo League
October 30, 1951: The Photo League was a non-profit organization created in 1936 to promote photography as an art form. It conducted photography classes, held exhibitions, and sponsored some photography projects. A number of its members held left-wing political views and sought to use photography to promote social justice. Because of its members’ political views, the League was included in the Attorney General’s List of Subversive Organizations (ordered by President Harry Truman on March 21, 1947, and published on December 4, 1947). Membership and support quickly fell off, and the League formally disbanded on this day, a victim of the Cold War anti-Communist hysteria. (see Dec 13)

Nuclear  Weapons

NSC 162/2
October 30, 1953: President Eisenhower formally approved National Security Council Paper No. 162/2 (NSC 162/2). The top secret document made clear that America's nuclear arsenal must be maintained and expanded to meet the communist threat. It also made clear the connection between military spending and a sound American economy. (see Dec 8)
58 megaton test

October 30 Peace Love Activism

October 30, 1961: the Soviet Union performed an above-ground nuclear test of 58 megatons—4000 times stronger than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. (see Oct 31)

Black History

Armed forces desegregated
October 30, 1954: the Department of Defense announced the armed forces had been fully desegregated — seven years after President Truman had instructed the Secretary of Defense to “take steps to have the remaining instances of discrimination in the armed services eliminated as rapidly as possible.” (see January 7, 1955)

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR

October 30 Peace Love Activism

October 30, 1967: Martin Luther King Jr. and seven other clergymen were jailed for four days in Birmingham, Ala. They served sentences on contempt-of-court charges stemming from Easter 1963 demonstrations they had led against discrimination. Public Safety Commissioner Eugene “Bull” Connor had twice denied them a parade permit. Two years later, the law was declared unconstitutional. (BH, see Nov 7; MLK, see April 3, 1968)
“Rumble in the Jungle”

ali forman rumble

October 30, 1974:  Muhammad Ali fought the reigning champion George Foreman in an outdoor arena in Kinshasa, Zaire, The fight is known as the “Rumble in the Jungle.”  Using his novel “rope-a-dope” strategy, Ali defeated Foreman and after seven years, reclaimed the title of Heavyweight Champion of the World. (NYT article) (see October 1, 1975)
FBI cover-up
October 30, 1982: a newly released report said the FBI  covered up the violent activities of their informant, Gary Thomas Rowe Jr., but his lawyer said the Government knew it was not getting ''a Sunday school teacher'' when it asked Mr. Rowe to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan. Mr. Rowe, who was a Klan informant from 1959 to 1965, was charged with murder in the 1965 killing of Viola Liuzzo, a civil rights worker. A Federal appeals court barred him from being brought to trial because of an earlier agreement giving him immunity. The 1979 report was released publicly for the first time because the Justice Department lost a Freedom of Information suit filed by Playboy magazine. In the report department investigators said agents protected Mr. Rowe because the informant ''was simply too valuable to abandon.'' (see April 2, 1983)
SOUTH AFRICA/APARTHEID
October 30, 1996: saying many of Eugene de Kock's actions had been cruel, calculated and without any sympathy for the victims Judge Willem van der Merwe sentenced the former head of a South African police assassination squad to two life sentences and more than 200 years in jail. (SA/A, see Dec 10; EdK, see January 30, 2015)
Church Burning
October 30, 2015:  David Lopez Jackson was arrested and charged in connection with a pair of recent church fires in and around St. Louis. Authorities charged Jackson with two counts of second-degree arson. His bail was set at $75,000. Chief Sam Dotson of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department said the investigation was ongoing, and that Jackson was a suspect in the other five fires that were set earlier this month.

 

October 30 Music et al

The Beatles before their US appearance

October 30 Peace Love Activism

October 30, 1961: two days after Beatles fan Raymond Jones (apparently) asked for The Beatles' German single "My Bonnie" (recorded with Tony Sheridan) at Brian Epstein's NEMS record store, two girls asked for the same record. Brian Epstein begins to search foreign record company import lists to find the single. Since Epstein had already sold at least 12 dozen copies of Liverpool's "Mersey Beat" magazine (and had written a column for it), it is highly unlikely that he doesn't already know who The Beatles are. Still, Epstein's difficulty in locating the record is probably due to his not knowing that the record was released, not by The Beatles, but by Tony Sheridan and 'The Beat Brothers' ('Beatles' resembles a vulgar slang word in German, so The Beatles' name was changed for this historic single). (see Nov 9)

October 30 Peace Love Activism

Vietnam

March to support war
October 30, 1965: 25,000 march in Washington in support of U.S. involvement in Vietnam. (see Nov 2)
DRAFT CARD BURNING
October 30, 1968: Republican Vice Presidential candidate, Spiro T. Agnew, was confronted at a disorderly Republican rally by the spectacle of youthful antiwar demonstrators burning a draft card. (Vietnam, see Oct 31; DCB, see May 29, 1969)

Jack Kevorkian

October 30, 1995: a group of doctors and other medical experts in Michigan announced its support of Jack Kevorkian , saying they will draw up a set of guiding principles for the "merciful, dignified, medically-assisted termination of life." (see February 1, 1996)

Immigration History & AIDS

October 30 Peace Love ActivismOctober 30, 2009: The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act of 2009 signed by President Barack Obama, who announced plans to remove a ban on travel and immigration to the U.S. by individuals with HIV. Obama called the 22-year ban a decision "rooted in fear rather than fact." (LGBTQ, see Nov 3; AIDS, see January 5, 2010; IH, see Dec 10)

DEATH PENALTY

October 30 Peace Love ActivismOctober 30, 2013: a Gallop poll measured that sixty percent of Americans say they favor the death penalty for convicted murderers, the lowest level of support Gallup has measured since November 1972, when 57% were in favor. Death penalty support peaked at 80% in 1994, but it has gradually declined since then. (see Nov 18)

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