Wednesday, January 22, 2014

George Stinney Justice Denied

222I receive lots of distasteful comments concerning the content posted on Thought Provoking Perspectives regarding African American history. I am called a “race hustler” often and I am continuously told to “get over it” as if my articles are not factual. Although, it is true that America is better than most countries on the planet. It cannot be proud of its despicable past.
To those who use Klan tactics hiding behind the computer screen under the name “Anonymous” know that your bigoted rants cannot change what your ancestors did to African Americas and the Native Americas.
For example, attorneys will present evidence in South Caroline in a case they feel warrants a new trial for George Stinney, Jr. If you don’t know the name. George Stinney was a 14-year-old Black teenager who was put to death for the murders of two White girls nearly seventy years ago. Why is he significant? Stinney was the youngest person executed in the United States last century, that we know of, but there is no official record of the day-long trial in which the boy's fate was decided in a mere ten minutes after the defense and prosecution rested their cases.
It is widely believed that Stinney did not commit the murders and was instead used as the scape-goat for a town blindly seeking revenge for the girls. This type of behavior or dare I say murder was often imposed on blacks and sanctioned under the cover of law. I am really not sure if there will be a positive outcome, after all the argument for a new trial is in South Carolina. But the boy's family will try and prove that Stinney's conviction was tried under the most egregious of circumstances and that a new trial is in order.
Observers say, their efforts to reopen the case is a long shot at best, according to news reports. Solicitor Ernest "Chip" Finney III, the prosecutor who will appear at the hearing this week for the state said, "There's not going to be enough evidence to open it up."
Here is some background on the case reported by Newsone:
When two White girls, 11-year-old Betty June Binnicker and 8-year-old Mary Emma Thames, went missing in Alcolu, S.C., on March 22, 1944, after riding in to town on their bicycles, Stinney was arrested the following day for allegedly murdering them.
The girls had allegedly passed Stinney’s home, where they asked him where they could find a particular kind of flower. Once the girls did not return home, hundreds of volunteers looked for them until their bodies were found the next morning in a ditch.
Because Stinney joined the search team and shared with another volunteer that he had spoken to the girls before they disappeared, he was arrested for their murders.
Without his parents, Stinney was interrogated by several White officers for hours. A deputy eventually emerged announcing that Stinney had confessed to the girls’ murders. The young boy allegedly told the deputies that he wanted to have sex with the 11-year-old girl, but had to kill the younger one to do it. When the 8-year-old supposedly refused to leave, he allegedly killed both of them because they refused his sexual advances.
To coerce his confession, deputies reportedly offered the child an ice cream cone.
There is no record of a confession. No physical evidence that he committed the crime exists. His trial — if you want to call it that — lasted less than two hours. No witnesses were called. No defense evidence was presented. And the all-White jury deliberated for all of 10 minutes before sentencing him to death.
On June 16, 1944, his frail, 5-foot-1, 95-pound body was strapped in to an electric chair at a state correctional facility in Columbia, S.C. Dictionaries had to be stacked on the seat of the chair so that he could properly sit in the seat. But even that didn’t help. When the first jolts of electricity hit him, the head mask reportedly slipped off, revealing the agony on his face and the tears streaming down his cheeks. Only after several more jolts of electricity did the boy die.
While no surviving participants from the trial are around to testify, people who claim to have known Stinney are. In a recent interview with the Post and Courier, friends of the slain girls said that they are convinced that Stinney was guilty:
Sadie Duke said she always believed Stinney was guilty because only a day before, he had threatened her and her friend Violet Freeman as they went to a church to collect water.
“He said, ‘If you don’t get away from here and if you ever come back, I will kill you,’” Duke said.
Evelyn Roberson, who was 15 at the time of the crime, said her husband often fought with Stinney as they tended cows near the town. “They called the (Stinney) boy ‘Bully’ because he was so bad to everybody,” she said. “Everybody he met he wanted to fight.”
Roberson said Stinney first confessed to the crime to his grandmother, who called the authorities. “I don’t feel like it’s an open case,” she said. “I think he did it, and he should have gotten punished for it and he did.”
Bob Ridgeway of Manning said he was 13 at the time and remembers his father joining the search party for the girls, and the mill whistle blowing for a long time, signaling that their bodies were found and the search was over. “There was never any question in anybody’s mind to my knowledge that he did it,” he said.
There is no dispute regarding the injustice inflected on African Americas, then and now. When there was no Internet or available access to information atrocities happened without regard to morals. Remember, Jim Crow was the law of the land and therefore, it was easy for those in power to do the most despicable acts.
The Tea Party and the conservatives shout vociferously that they want their country back. This may well be what they are asking for! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

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