United States Congress
Washington, D. C.
Again we must remind you of the urgent need of a strong Federal law against lynching and mob violence. The recent acquittal of self-confessed lynchers in Greenville, S.C., affords additional proof that the individual states are unable to cope with this great evil.
And our own state is no exception. No doubt you still remember the several lynchings that have blotted Florida's record during the past few months: (1) ....Colles Harrison at Marianna in 1943, (2) Willie James Howard near Live Oak in 1944, (3) ....Jesse James Payne near Madison in 1945, and (4) Sam McFadden at Branford in 1945. These are the recorded lynchings. There have been rumors and strong evidence of others. For example, on January 7, 1946, Leroy Bradwell, a Negro veteran of Midway, Fla., mysteriously disappeared while in the custody of Sheriff Edwards and Deputy ....Naple of ....Gadsden County. Three witnesses have testified that these two officers carried Leroy from his mother's house about 11:30 that night, and the boy has not been seen or heard of since. Affidavits to this effect were submitted to Governor Caldwell, but no action has been taken.
In only one of these cases (Sam McFadden) has anyone been arrested or convicted. Even in this case the Suwannee County Grand Jury refused to return an indictment, and Federal authorities could move only under a weak civil rights statute. Thus a man gets off with only a year in jail and a fine of $1000 for committing first degree murder. In the other cases mentioned above the officers were not even suspended for their failure to protect the helpless prisoners entrusted to their care.
We cannot afford to wait until the several states get "trained" or "educated" to the point where they can take effective action in such cases. Human life is too valuable for mere experimenting of this kind. The Federal Government must be empowered to take the necessary action for the protection of its citizens. We need a Federal law with "teeth". We therefore urge you to work for the passage of the Wagner-....Morse-Case Bill during this session of Congress.
Harry T. Moore, Executive Secretary
Florida State Conference, NAACP
Progressive Voters' League of Florida, Inc.
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