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consideration was introduced in the Maryland Legislature last December. It was at a special session not called for that specific purpose, but at any rate the bill was introduced. It was not passed. It met with determined opposition of the people from the Eastern Shore and some other sections of the State.
Now, as a practical matter, I am convinced that legislation could have been passed if the full power of the State administration had been exercised to pass it, but a very practical situation existed, a situation with which perhaps I do not have to acquaint you gentlemen. The State administration had other irons in the fire. It had other legislation it wanted passed and did not want to endanger that. So we have no legislation in Maryland now which will permit the State to punish a lynching, even though the State agents act vigorously in trying to do it, so long as one isolated community or county, which may have 1 percent of the population of the State, refuses to issue an indictment.
Those two cases, it seems to me the one in which the State administration generally was apathetic about it and the other in which the State administration acted vigorously, but was helpless-illustrate very admirably the two types of situation which I dare say arise after the great majority of lynchings, and to me, at least, point out the great desirability of some sort of Federal antilynching legislation. As to whether this bill is the proper one or not is a matter for the judgment of you .gentlemen. I simply want to add my humble bit of testimony to the effect that some sort of legislation is essential.
Senator Van Nuys. What was the alleged crime in the Williams case?
Mr. AZRAEL. The testimony in the Williams case was very definite. The man had been employed by a lumber dealer, and there was, I think, some sort of mental condition. He came to the lumber dealer's office and shot him.
Senator Van Nuys. Was he a white or a colored man!
Senator Van Nuys. Did you say the State government did all it reasonably could have been asked to do in the prosecution or attempted prosecution of the lynchers in the Armwood case?
Mr. AZRAEL. I should state that the State government, as distinguished from the county government, did everything it possibly could.
Senator Van Nuys. I would judge so from the newspaper reports. I simply wanted your opinion. I have one or two other questions.
Do you feel from your observation of these two cases that the law as it existed then, with the local sentiment as it existed then, is inadequate to prevent lynch law!
Mr. AZRAEL. Certainly the law is. I think in most cases the sentiment in the locality in which lynching occurs is such as to prevent any effective legal action.
Senator Van Nuys. So that, as to the policy of this legislation, without going into the mechanics of this particular bill, do you think it would be good public policy for the Federal Government to enter this field and enact some sort of legislation on this subject ?
Mr. AZRAEL. There is no question about it.
Senator DIETERICH. The reason that you are prevented in your State from effective prosecution of violations of the kind you have just narrated is because of the fact that the Constitution provides that no man shall be punished for a crime unless he is indicted by a grand jury, and your law gives the grand jury of the county where the crime is committed the authority to indict?
Mr. AZRAEL. That is right.
Senator DIETERICH. Unless it could be removed to a Federal court, where the Federal grand jury could indict!
Mr. AZRAEL. It is possible to pass legislation. That is not a constitutional matter. It is a practical matter. It is possible to enact legislation which will confer State-wide jurisdiction. Senator DIETERICH. In the matter of indictment? Mr. AZRAEL. In the matter of indictment, theoretically. Senator DIETERICH. Who would select the county in which that indictment should be returned?
Mr. AZRAEL. Well, I don't know offhand. I daresay probably that would be left to the attorney general, the chief legal officer of the State. I never thought about that, but I should say, generally speaking, that if I were drawing such an act I would first define mob action and say that in cases in which mob action is involved the attorney general should seek an indictment, or take such action as he thinks best. That is an off-hand suggestion.
Senator DIETERICH. You would leave it to the discretion of the attorney general as to where the indictment would be found and where the accused would be prosecuted ?
Mr. AZRAEL. I don't see how it can be done in any other way. There are very practical difficulties to be found in enacting such legislation. Senator DIETERICH. It would be rather expensive, would it not?
Mr. AZRAEL. It might be very expensive, particularly in cases of that sort which involved mob action.
Senator DIETERICH. Do you think it is more practical to provide that under certain conditions it is a Federal crime for the Federal grand jury to act upon, rather than the district or county?
Mr. AZRAEL. I don't think there is any question about that. I think the proper way is to make it a Federal crime, so the Federal grand jury can act.
Senator DIETERICH. Providing the local authorities do not enforce the State law. Our State has an adequate law against crimes of that kind, but it is not properly enforced.
Mr. AZRAEL. If the laws are not properly enforced; yes. There is no question about that.
Senator DIETERICH. Have you made a study of this bill?
Senator DIETERICH. I have never found a good one. I have even looked the Senate over.
You have made no study of the bill which you will say you feel would warrant vour entering into a discussion of the details of it?
Mr. AZRAEL, I would not want to enter into such a discussion.
Senator DIETERICH. Have you made a study of section 5 of this bill.
Mr. AZRAEL, If you will tell me what section that is, I can answer you.
Senator DIETERICH. That is the section imposing a penalty of $10,000 upon the county where an occurrence of that kind happens.
Mr. AZRAEL. We had the same provision in the bill proposed in the Maryland Legislature, except that the amount was $5,000. What have you in mind?
Senator DIETERICH. Do you not think there should be some distinction there between officers who have neglected to do their duty, such as in the case you have cited in Maryland, and where officers were diligent in doing their duty, and without any fault on their part whatever were unable to anticipate that a mob was forming for the purpose of doing violence? Would you not make a distinction there?
Mr. AZRAEL. I certainly would, Senator.
Senator DIETERICH. You would not be in favor of levying an execution upon the property of the county to satisfy whatever penalty might attach?
Mr. AZRAEL. No.
Senator DIETERICH. You understand that you cannot levy an execution upon the property of the county? You cannot sell a courthouse to satisfy a judgment.
Mr. AZRAEL. No.
Senator DIETERICH. You would not be in favor of that provision in the bill?
Mr. AZRAEL. No; but that could be obtained by some sort of provision which would possibly suspend payment of whatever damages were involved until the next legislature authorized it to raise the money.
Senator DIETERICH. I do not want to prolong this argument, but you know that it is a matter of public policy that you cannot sell under execution the property of a county.
Mr. AZRAEL. Exactly.
Senator DIETERICH. The only remedy is to compel it by mandamus to levy a tax to satisfy a judgment.
Mr. AZRAEL. Yes, sir.
Senator DIETERICH. You would change the bill to that extent, would you?
Mr. AZRAEL. Yes; I would.
Senator Van Nuys. Thank you very much. Is Miss Detzer present?
Mr. James W. Ford. I understand that this is the final session and will close at 5 o'clock. I have come here invited to represent my organization at great expense of money and time, and demand that I be allowed to testify in the name of my organization at this hearing.
Senator Van Nuys. I told you, Mr. Ford, that we would try to give everybody an opportunity to be heard. Here is a lady who has been here 2 daye, and I propose to hear her testimony now.
Mr. FORD. I have been here 2 days myself. The last witness has testified for nearly half an hour, and it is impossible for all these witnesses who are left to be heard.
Senator Van Nuys. As the chairman of this committee, I am calling upon Miss Detzer at this time.
Mr. FORD. Very well. I protest the action of this committee in inviting delegates here and not allowing them to testify.
Senator Van Nuys. There are probably 15 people who have been here 2 days. I propose to try to give every one of them an opportunity to be heard, among them yourself.
Mr. Ford. It will be impossible in half an hour to do that.
STATEMENT OF MISS DOROTHY DETZER, EXECUTIVE SECRETARY WOMEN'S INTERNATIONAL LEAGUE FOR PEACE AND FREEDOM
Senator Van Nuys. Miss Detzer, you may proceed.
Miss DETZER. Mr. Chairman, I am not here as a representative of any group or any organization. I come as a citizen and native of Tennessee, a resident of Nashville, a southern woman, with generations of southern ancestry back of me. My family has served actively for the betterment of the State since its territorial days. I have lived all my life in the South. I have worked with social and educational people for 25 years, who are leaders of both races.
There is one statement I should like to make that I think has not been previously recorded. Southern womanhood has from time to time gone on record against lynching. It does not wish to be used as an excuse for or as a defense of this atrocious crime. It stands for law observance and justice. I should like to read the declaration of the Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching :
We declare lynching is an indefensible crime destructive of all principles of government, hateful and hostile to every ideal of religion and humanity, debasing and degrading to every person involved. Though lynchings are not confined to any one section of the l'nited States, we are aroused by the record which discloses our heavy responsibility for the presence of this crime in our country. We believe that this record has been achieved because public opinion has accepted too easily the claim of lynchers and mobsters that they were acting solely in defense of womanhood. In the light of facts, women dare not longer permit the claim to pass unchallenged nor allow themselves to be the cloak behind which those bent upon personal revenge and savagery commit acts of violence and lawlessness in the name of women. We repudiate this disgraceful claim for all time. In evidence of our purpose we solemnly pledge ourselves to create a new public opinion in the South which will not condone for any reason whatever acts of mobs or lynchers. We shall teach our children at home, at school, and at church a new interpretation of law and religion; we will assist all officials to uphold their oath of office; and finally we will join with every minister; editor, school teacher, and patriotic citizen in a program of education to eradicate lynching and mobs forever from our land.
I am convinced that a Federal law would greatly strengthen the arms of justice in this country and make it easier to curb the increasing disregard for law.
I am here with a delegation of Nashville people. You already have a record of the lynchings which recently occurred in our community. Time does not permit each one of this delegation to appear in person. I ask your indulgence that a very few of them be permitted to make brief statements.
Senator Van Nuys. We will do all we can to give everyone an opportunity to be heard. We thank you very much.
STATEMENT OF MRS. ALVA W. TAYLOR, NASHVILLE, TENN.
Mrs. TAYLOR. I was born and reared in a strip of Texas notorious for corrupt politics and lawlessness. The Texas Rangers, who attempted to supplement the law, became themselves instruments of mob rule on many occasions. I know first-hand the decivilizing effect in a community of such mob rule, as well as the helplessness of law-abiding citizens in such times of crisis. I therefore am deeply concerned that the Costigan-Wagner antilynching bill become a law, as an ally to local forces of law and order.
During the time I was a Y.W.C.A. secretary in Mexico, I realized the need for legislation empowering Federal interference in lynchings. It was humiliating to me as an American citizen to know that my Government had sent invading forces to compel law and order in sections in Mexico, but was powerless to deal with a form of violence and lawlessness within its own borders, constituting a disgrace among the civilized nations of the world.
For several years my home has been in Nashville, Tenn. I worked there with many community groups, because I share with thousands of other mothers the desire to provide a cleaner, better moral atmosphere for the social growth of our little children. All these groups have worked for 2 months on the Cordie Cheek case, without results to date. If we had had the backing of a Federal law, such as this bill outlines, there would most certainly have been action before this.
The experience of parents throws light upon this question of State's rights. Our States have been crying like lost children in the dark for Federal comfort and guidance in these last few years of economic crisis, and at least they have been heard. But, likewise, when one of these States so loses self-control that the rights and reputation of the whole family are at stake, it is not only the prerogative of the head of the family to interfere and restore the well-being of the whole; it is a manifest duty.
Senator Van Nuys. Thank you.
STATEMENT OF JAMES W. FORD, NEW YORK CITY, REPRESENT
ING THE NEGRO STRUGGLE FOR NEGRO RIGHTS
Senator Van Nuys. If the gentleman who came up a moment ago will come forward, we will give him a little time. These ladies and gentlemen will have to wait.
State your name.
Mr. FORD. I represent the Legal Struggle for Negro Rights, with headquarters in New York City.
Senator Van Nuys. Are you talking in favor of the bill or against it!
Mr. FORD. We are in favor of any antilynching legislation.