Friday, June 10, 2016

Lynching Foes In Senate Tell Of New Tactics: March 15, 1940

Today we feature an article found in Denny's Column in the Pittsburgh Press (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) dated March 15, 1940:

Denny's Column—


Describe 'Hush' Methods As Parties Eye Negro Voting Power


WASHINGTON, March 15—Twenty Southern Senators have made a secret agent to filibuster to death the anti-lynching bill. To meet these tactics, which have killed other such bills, opponents of joint murder will show the Senate how lynching has been streamlined to escape the headlines and public revulsion.

The night-riding floggers case now being aired in Atlanta is a case in point. Instead of a noisy mob operating, a few efficient abductors took over the job of kidnaping the victims and beating them.

One victim of this particular gang, Isaac Gaston, was found dead. A deputy sheriff and a policeman, active Ku Klux Klansmen, were identified with similar floggings, even to matching the scars from the leather strap used on the victims, but the coroner's jury failed to name the slayers.

The new technique is described in detail in a report issued today under sponsorship of Senators Wagner (D., N. Y.) and Capper (R., Kan.) and Representatives Gavagan (D., N. Y.) and Fish (R., N. Y.) advocates of the anti-lynching bill.

'Lynching Goes Underground'

They do not give the name of their author, a white native Southerner, because he is continuing his inquiry.

The title if "Lynching Goes Underground." After describing what occurred in several recent unheralded cases, the report states that many lynching are occurring of which the public never hears:

"Your investigator has proved numerous lynchings. His acquaintance with lynchers and the lynched extends over a lifetime. It is his judgment that countless Negroes are lynched yearly, but their disappearance is surrounded in mystery, for they are dispatched quietly and without general knowledge . . .

"A careful study covering four or five states of the deep South for a period of months would reveal a startling number of lynchings otherwise unaccounted for."

Seeks Federal Probe

He was told by "competent observers" that in the vicinity of Cleveland, Miss., "at least four Negroes have been lynched in the past four or five months." He appeals to the Department of Justice to investigate these and similar reports.

More specific are the report's charges in the cases of Joe Rodgers of Madison County, Miss., and Claude Banks of Canton, Miss. Of the former case, it states as "self-evident from the evidence just cited" that:

"Joe Rodgers . . . came to his death at the hands of a mob composed of employes of the Dinkman Mills. That the above is known to be the facts by the officials of Madison County. That no real effort has been made or will be made to bring the guilty parties to justice."

Of the other case, the report says:  

"The evidence seems to indicate that the group of men who fired upon Banks and Jones was a legally deputized posse . . . It is positively known that both deputies and members of the local police force were among those who shot Claude Banks."

Describe New Technique

The new technique of lynching is described as follows:

"Agitation for Federal and state anti-lynching laws gives pause to the lynching crowd. It must be done quietly so as not to attract attention, draw publicity. Thus those who must rule by terror and intimidation turn to new methods. The old mob is disappearing but the work of the mob goes on.

"A Negro is accused of some crime, real or alleged. A few white men gather, formulate their plans, seize their victim. In some lonely swamp a small body of men do the job formerly done by a vast, howling, bloodthirsty mob composed of men, women and children. The word is then passed that the matter has been handled to the satisfaction of those in charge."

The pending bill, which has passed the House, is now before the Senate Judiciary Committee, with a favorable report of 5 to 1. The opponent was Senator Connally (D., Tex.) who will lead the floor obstruction. Two years ago the filibuster held out a  month and was successful.

But in this election year, with Negroes holding the balance of power in several doubtful states, the Republicans and Northern Democrats may fight more effectively. Senator Vandenberg of Michigan, Republican Presidential aspirant, is one of many committed to breaking the filibuster.

Thank you for joining me and as always, I hope I leave you with something to ponder.

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