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in the words of the Sun, that “mobs were not so much concerned as the defenders of mobs would have us believe, with the redressing of the law's delays and the law's failures."
If it be pointed out that of recent years white persons in larger numbers have been victims of the mob, the point is not blunted. These white persons have not been the wealthy and the influential. They have not been gangsters with their defense funds and their political power. They have not been embezzlers and crooks in high places. They have been the defenseless or the friendless and the unknown-men who more than any other. except Negroes in certain sections, are most certain to meet the penalty provided by law if found guilty and the most likely to be found guilty by juries if the evidence is sufficient.
Dr. Beach's conclusion is that is difficult to escape. It is that mobs are not, except in rare instances, the product of defects in the law, but of the lawlessness of the American people, the laxness of the law in dealing with mob murders, the craving of men and women of certain type for the kind of excitement that goes with lynchings, and the desire to take revenge personally without waiting for the law to move.
There are many defects in the law. There are many technicalities. There is too much delay in the administration of justice. And these defects should be cured, these loopholes plugged. But when that is done we will still have lynchings. The only cure for that American evil is public sentiment, and public officials do not condone vile murder.
[From the Roanoke (Va.) World, Jan. 12, 1934]
THE LYNCHING EVIL
It is to be hoped that President Roosevelt and the various Governors and Congressmen petitioned will pay more than passing notice to the resolution, adopted recently at a meeting of southern white women in Atlanta, urging that immediate attention be given to the lynching evil. A cooperative plan, looking toward “ eradicating this evil”, is advocated in the resolution.
The recent wave of lynchings which has swept over the country is sufficient evidence of the need of such cooperation. Time after time within the past few months, men suspected of some crime have been the victims of mob violence, and yet practically nothing has been done to bring to justice the men who participated in the atrocity. As the assembled women pointed out, "past experience has demonstrated that State and local authorities and public opinion on which they depend have failed to bring to justice members of lynching mobs in spite of the fact that their identity was well known.”
Local law-enforcement officers, after all, reflect the sentiment prevailing in their community. Even though they know the men participating in a lynching they are afraid to take action against them because they know that by doing so they would antagonize the community which pays them their salaries. By pretending that they do not know the members of the mob, they play safe with their own jobs, but at the same time they play havoc with justice.
The situation would be quite different if State or Federal officers were assigned to the task of enforcing antilynching laws. Since they would be responsible to the State or Federal Government for their actions, they would have less regard for the sentiment in any particular community, and more for the outraged feelings of citizens throughout the State or Nation. Instead of losing their jobs if they did bring charges against the members of the mob, they would be much more likely to suffer if they failed to take action when it was obvious that evidence could be obtained if sought.
The opposition of the women to the ('ostigan-Wagner bill, under the terms of which a county in which a lynching occurred would have to pay $10,000 to the family of the victim, seems somewhat unaccountable, however. It might perhaps be better to make the amount of the fidemrity variable, ccording to the population and wealth of the county. But the disagreement of the women is not with the size of the indemnity, but rather with the principle of levying such an indemnity. And since they are seemingly intent upon stamping out the lynching evil, it seems strange that they should oppose the bill.
Fear was expressed by the women that the establishment of such a principle would prove a barrier to the enforcement of the law. First impulse, however, is to believe that the setting up of such an indemnity would actually aid in the enforcement of the law, since it would tend to fill the more responsible citizens in any county with a sense of concern as to the actions of their more irresponsible neighbors.
It is encouraging, though, to find a united demand for action, and there is reason to believe that as antilynching sentiment grows, the Federal and State governments will become increasingly concerned with stamping out the practice. That, coupled with a more tolerant attitude on the racial question, should do much to end the evil.
[From the Macon (Ga.) Telegraph, Feb. 6, 1934 ]
LYNCHING TO BECOME UNPOPULAR
When the Federal Government has considered bills for prevention of lynching much has been said in protest about State rights. But with the refusal of the States to put into effect any measure that is half-way effective, it is quite natural that the matter should again be brought out in Congress.
Representative Thomas F. Ford, of California, has introduced in the House of Representatives at Washington an antilynching bill similar to the one introduced in the upper House by Senator Edward P. Costigan, of Colorado, and Senator Robert F. Wagner, of New York.
It seems likely that the bill will pass. That is, no suggestion of a fight has been heard.
Doubtless Representative Ford has moved in the matter as a protest from his State for the California Governor's sensational approval of a lynching that occurred there some time ago.
The bill agreed upon by the sponsors provides Federal interference only when a county or State has refused or failed to arrest and prosecute “a mob or riotous assemblage” composed of three or more persons acting in concert without authority of law, for the purpose of depriving any person of his life, or doing him physical injury. A lapse of 30 days constitutes failure.
Any officer or employee of the State or subdivision thereof shall be held guilty of failure to give due protection to a person in his keeping under the law unless he makes all diligent efforts, and in case of defeat in those efforts be shall prosecute to final judgment all persons participating as a mob, or be fined not more than $5,000 or be imprisoned 5 years, or both.
And if it can be shown that he conspired with any of the mob he and they can be imprisoned (not fined) for not less than 5 years, or for life.
The Federal court can assume jurisdiction when it is shown that proper efforts have not been made to discover the members of the mob and to bring them to justice; or when it is shown that jurors might not find against members of the mob if the local courts should attempt prosecution. Thirty days' failure to do anything definite and effective against a mob shall be deemed prima facie evidence that nothing is likely to be done by the State court; and this will give the Federal authorities jurisdiction.
The United States shall sue the county for $10,000 in behalf of the family of any person murdered by a mob. If no family, the dependent parents are entitled to the money. If no parents, the United States Government gets it. Any State officers resisting the necessary processes of the Government may be punished for contempt of the Federal court.
If a mob victim is seized in one county and carried to another, both counties jointly and severally shall be held liable for the damages. Another section refers to the protection that must be given to a citizen of a foreign country. Such foreigner shall have the benefit of the same protection as that afforded citizens of the United States.
It is probable under such a Federal law no more wild lynchings will occur, or if they do, the local officers will be obliged to take action. No more verdicts will be accepted reading, “ Came to his death at the hands of party or parties unknown."
The $10,000 damage penalty will not be enforced in many counties before public sentiment in those counties will turn against lynchers. The public is now prone to think, "Oh, well; the man lynched was a bad actor, and these lynchers had merely a spell of patriotic aberration. Why not let the matter drop there?". And it does drop there. The country is breaking out with another lynching epidemic this year. Twenty-five lynchings occurred in January. It is not necessary to go on toward chaos in this way. The lynching spirit is the murder spirit, if we look at it in the best light possible. And it reflects the fiendishness in our natures rather than the bravery. It gives sway to our basest passions, and there is no end to them unless they are curbed.
A Federal lynching law will do some needed curbing. If the people in the several States will not do it for themselves, the Federal Government will have to clo it for them. And thus will pass another State function along with so many other State rights that have been discarded.
[From the Newport News (Va.) Press, Jan. 6, 1934 ]
There now is pending in Congress an antilynching bill, the measure having been presented as a result of the numerous lynchings during the past year. It takes little or no account of State rights. But this was to be expected. Several of the States have refused to make the slightest attempt to stop lynchings. And the Governor of California has gone so far as to commend lynch law and promise pardon for murderers under certain circumstances.
The bill defines a mob or riotous gathering as “an assemblage composed of i hree or more persons acting in concert without authority of law for the purpose of depriving any person of his life or doing him physical injury."
The means by which such acts within a State are brought within the juris diction of the Federal Government is through a section which provides :
" If any State or governmental subdivision thereof fails, neglects, or refuses to provide and maintain protection to the life or person of any individu'il within its jurisdiction against a mob or riotous assemblage, whether by way of preventing or punishing the acts thereof, such State shall by reason of such failure, neglect, or refusal be deemed to have denied to such person the equal protection of the laws of the State and to the end that the protection guaranteed to persons within the jurisdictions of the several States or to citizens of the United States, by the Constitution of the United States, may be secured, the provisions of this act are enacted.”
This measure, or something like it, seems to be the only answer to the lynching problems. Where the States refuse to uphold the law the Federal Government must act if civilization is to survive. The proposed Federal antilynching law will meet vigorous opposition. But in the light of rerent events it should be enacted with a minimum of delay.
[From the Lynchburg (Va.) News, Jan. 9, 1934)
STATES Must Act The year 1933 closed on a note of optimism as regarus business and industrial and financial conditions and could boast of events that meant progress in less material matters, but there is one record established during the year that is nothing less than a shame to the Nation. The increase in the number of lynchings was, as the Greensboro Daily News declares, one "orer which the citizenry or that portion of them who are not acknowledged Rolphians, may not only hang their heads in shame, but give serious pause to the sentiment, the disregard for law and order in its fundamental principles, which it reflects". and continues:
"The jump from 10 lynchings in 1932 to 28 in 1933, an increase of 200 percent, is shocking enough in itself. But the inference, in several instances the direct charges, of official collusion, certainly in the broadest acceptance of that word with its inclusion of condonement, sympathy, and noninterference, is even more abhorrent to those, which means all of us, who depend upon orsanized society, represented by the Government, for protection and the pursuit of lantes or what there is left of it,
" Heading the list of these lorrible example is the excouragment which California's Governor. 'Sunny Jim Rollih. gure mobbers: the victims got that was erming to them, he did not leave the state leranse he feareds me b Hiy elem ght onder ont troops to give perfection: anyone arrested and caus rictel o partie ipation in the double killing would receive a partion. In Maryland local authorities refused to cooperate in an investigation or to arrest accused mobsters upon orders from the attorney general's office. In South Carolina a police officer, charged with having left the jail doors unlocked, faces formal indictment as a lynching accomplice. In North Carolina no progress has been made, or at least revealed, in the identity of mobsters who months ago took a Negro from a sheriff who subsequently issued a long string of 'I don't knows.'
" It is no wonder, in the face of these circumstances, that announcement is made that a vigorous effort will be undertaken at the present session of Congress to secure enactment of Federal antilynching legislation. The Nation-old question of States' rights, considerably battered about in these latter days, is already being paraded. But somewhere in the argument, it is quite likely that inquiry will be pointedly made whether States' rights include the prerogative to pass or gloss over a lynching, to countenance inability and indifference of local officers, to tolerate a chief executive who congratulates lynchers and promises them pardons, or to connive in furtherance of a flouting of law and order in a manner which undermines its own strength and reveals virtually no brakes this side of Washington. There are States' rights, undeniably. But what about States' wrongs?
The News has as much respect for States' rights and for local selfgovernment as any, and has as great horror as any of Federal usurpation of police powers, but none can overlook the fact that the extension of lynching and continuance of State failure to prevent or even to punish after the event will give strong impetus to the already strong movement for a Federal lynch law'.
(From the Winterhaven (Fla.) Chief, Jan. 11, 1934)
SOUTHERN WOMEN PROTEST LYNCHING
We are glad to note that a conference of southern white women has requested President Roosevelt to take action to eradicate the evil of lynching. If such an appeal had come from the North or the West—or even from California where “Rolphing" is the new form of lynching—there might have been protests from certain sections on the ground that these people were interfering in a matter that was not their concern. But coming from the South it carries added weight and should be productive of speedy and decisive action on the part of the President and Congress. The appeal of the conference was based on the contention that “past experience has demonstrated that State and local authorities and public opinion on which they depend have failed to bring to justice members of lynching mobs in spite of the fact that their identity was well known.” Mrs. Atwood Martin, of Louisville, Ky., chairman of the Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching, and Mrs. Jessie Daniel Ames, of Atlanta, director of the organization, and a third member to be selected by them will be the committee to take the resolution and request to the President. They represent the finest culture and traditions of the South. May their request be heard and the Federal Government take speedy action to remove this stigma from the land.
[From the Knoxville (Tenn.) News-Sentinel, Jan. 11, 1934]
STAMPING OUT LYNCHING
A conference of southern white women meeting in Atanta on the lynching problem has requested the President, Governors, and Congressmen to work out a cooperative plan between Federal and State Governments for “eradicating this evil.”
“The women made it plain,” says the Associated Press, “ that they did not want to shift responsibility for stamping out lynching from the State government entirely to the Federal Government. Some voiced the opinion that the proposed Federal antilyching law now before the Senate (the Costigan-Wagner bill) appeared to coerce the States."
The ladies, we fear, are too optimistic. Past experience has shown that State governments too frequently do not live up to their responsibility by bringing the lynchers to justice. It is only in such cases that the Costigan-Wagner bill would have the Government take charge of such prosecution, and also penalize the State and the local officials whose negligence permitted the lynching.
No compromise such as the women's conference suggests will do when the situation gets as bad as it is now. As President Roosevelt termed it, lynching is “collective murder." To stop it, a law that would have the Federal Government with all its power take charge would be none too drastic.
At the recent congressional committee hearing on racketeering held in Chicago, one witness after another, including notorious racketeers themselves, testified that the one agency the criminal dreads is the Federal Government. With its power to cross State and county lines and to use its conspiracy statute, which makes any person aiding or even having knowledge of the commission of a Federal offense a party defendant, the Government and it alone effectively can bring lynching mob members to justice.
Cooperation " from State governments, in view of past experience, is hardly to be expected unless it is forced.
[From the El Paso (Tex.) Herald-Post, Dec. 4, 1933]
AN ANTILYNCHING LAW
Unless Governors and local officials display more courage in curbing blood lust of mobs, Senator ('ostigan of Colorado will find the sentiment of the United States rolling up behind his promised Federal antilynching bill by the opening of Congress
None believes that the Federal Government is repository of the Nation's conscience. We are not ready for the federalization of police powers. But just as it took the Federal Government to make effective war on kidnapers, so it is necessary to invoke Federal power to stop lynching.
Civilized America will not, cannot brook these barbarous outbreaks against the law. If sheriffs fail to hold their prisoners secure the State governments must more in and help them. If Governors, like California's rolph, invite and condone rabble rule, or, like Maryland's Ritchie, delay adequate state protation, what is left but Federal action?
A Federal antilyching law has been discussed for years. The Dyer bill almost passed Congress in 1922 when it went through the House on a vote of 230 to 119, to be filibustered to death in the Senate. In recent years the old evil of lynching appeared to be gradually diminishing. This year the embers of law. lessness have flamed. There have been 27 lynchings already this year, compared with 10 for the whole year of 1932.
Since only a few States have passed adequate antilynching laws a Federal law seems to be required. If it is passed, it should have teeth enough to insure that the lowliest American, regardless of his race or the charge against him, gets the protection of due process of law as guaranteed by the Constitution.
[From the Newport News (Va.) Times-Herald, Jan. 10, 1934)
THE REACTION TO ROLPHISM The indifference of some State enforcement officers toward lynchings, plus the actual commendation by Gorernor Rolph of the lynching of two men in California, has had its inevitable result. Senators Costigan and Wagner have introduced in the U'nited States Senate a drastie Federal antilynching bill, providing for Federal, rather than State, jurisdiction over lynchers under certain circumstances and imposing drastic penalties on State officials who fail to exercise their full authority to block mob violence, t'nder the provisions of the proposed law, Governor Rolph, who promised immunity from punishment to the lynchers at San Jose recently, could be given a prison term of from 5 years to life.
According to the proposed Federal law: “ For any State officer to abet such outrages affirmatively, is made a Federal crime punishable by imprisonment from 5 years to life." So runs a joint statement of the patrons of the pill.
Such is the reaction to Rolphi-m. If State authorities are impotent, tilatory, or antagonistic to the administration of justice for moh murierers, the Federal Government proposes to step in and see that justice is done. It is no compli