Tuesday, January 26, 2016
April 13, 1937: Roosevelt Townes and "Bootjack" McDaniels
Today we learn about a lynching in Mississippi through the pages of The Cincinnati Enquirer (Cincinnati, Ohio) dated April 14, 1937:
Lynched By Mob
Of 200 After Pleading Not Guilty of Killing.
Blowtorch Used In Torture Of One In Mississippi—Congress Debates Law.
Winona, Miss., April 13—(AP)—Two Negroes were tortured and lynched by a mob of more than 100 white men near Duck Hill, Miss., this afternoon within two hours after they had pleaded innocent in Montgomery County Circuit Court to a charge of murdering a white man.
A third Negro suspected by the mob of complicity in the slaying of George Windham, a country storekeeper, was whipped severely and run out of the county after narrowly escaping the fate of the other two Negroes.
Roosevelt Townes, who had confessed, Sheriff E. E. Wright said, that he shot Windham, was tied to a tree near Wingham's store and tortured slowly to death with flames from a blow torch.
A Negro identified only as "Bootjack" McDaniels, indicted with Townes in the Windham slaying, was shot by members of the mob, and his body burned.
Townes and McDaniels were taken from Sheriff Wright and two deputies early this afternoon as they were being led from the courthouse to be returned to the jail to await trial Thursday.
The Negroes were handcuffed and placed in a waiting school bus. Members of the mob piled into the bus, and others into automobiles. The caravan sped northward toward Duck Hill as the Negroes screamed for mercy. The bus stopped near the small country store where Windham was shot fatally through a window one night last December. Then the Negroes were tied to a tree and tortured.
"This terrible thing will be immediately investigated by the grand jury," said Circuit Judge John F. Allen of Kosciusko, who was presiding at the regular criminal term of Circuit Court here when the Negroes were arraigned.
Judge Allen said he would confer with the District Attorney and plans for investigating the double lynchings would be made immediately.
"Two men pinned me from behind and they grabbed the other officers in the same way," Deputy Sheriff A. J. Curtis said.
"It was all done very quickly, quietly, and orderly."
Curtis was asked if the men were masked.
"No, they weren't masked."
"Did your recognize any of them?"
"No, they were behind me, and I couldn't tell who they were."
Washington, April 13—(AP)—The house received reports of the lynching of two Negroes near Dusk [sic] Hill, Miss., today in the midst of debate over a Federal anti-lynching bill.
Proponents immediately seized upon the mob action as an argument in behalf of a proposal by Representative Joseph A. Gavagan, Democrat, New York, to impose heavy fines and prison terms on persons figuring in lynchings.
Peace officers who permit prisoners to be taken from them would be subject to punishment, as well as mob members.
"This lynching is not an indication that the laws of Mississippi condone or approve such acts," Representative John E. Miller, Democrat, Arkansas, declared off the floor. He attacked organizations sponsoring the bill.
"I pity you men who feel you are forced to yield to the pressure of racketeering organizations preying upon the colored people," he said.
APPLAUSE IS REBUKED.
A large gallery crowd, including many Negroes, heard the debate. At one point Acting Speaker John O'Connor, Democrat, New York, halted proceedings after agitators applauded a remark by Representative Hamilton Fish, Republican, New York, that he believed in placing "human rights above property rights." Visitors were warned against demonstrations.
Asserting 5,000 Negroes have been lynched in the United States in the last 50 years, Fish chided Congress because it had not passed such legislation.
"The whole world is laughing at us," he declared.
A Mississippi Democrat, Representative William M. Colmer, interrupted Fish to ask if the measure would ap0ply to "gang murders for which your state is known."
Chairman Hatton W. Sumners, Democrat, Texas, of the Judiciary Committee and opposition floor-leader, criticized proponents for "failing to point out" Southern states had virtually stopped lynchings.
Taking cognizance of today's lynching, Representative John M. Robsion [sic], Republican, Kentucky, asserted they would continue "until Congress responds to the wishes of the American people and the demands of the situation to place the government behind the movement to stop mob violence.
SPEAKS TOO SOON!
Jackson, Miss., April 13—
(AP)—"We are justly proud of
the fact that Mississippi has not
had a lynching in 15 months,"
Governor Hugh White boasted
in an address before the Farm
Chemurgic Conference here
this afternoon. A minute later
he was called from the confer-
ence to learn from his secre-
tary that two Negroes had just
been lynched at Duck Hill,
Thank you for joining me and as always, I hope I leave you with something to ponder.