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Central Park 5 Rally For Teacher

The Central Park Five case in the early 90’s was a modern day lynching and serves as a template of how young black men are demonized, and ultimately denied justice by racism. The case remains as a Hallmark of racial justice and injustice in the United States on a par with the Scottsboro Boys sham trial and attempted executions.

Recently a NYC High School Teacher made the story of the Central Park 5 part of her lesson plan on history. She was promptly fired.

Central Park Five: Rehire Teacher Allegedly Fired Over Central Park Five Lesson

Administrators reportedly were concerned the lessons would cause “riots” among black students.

Two of the five men who were wrongfully convicted in the 1989 rape and assault of a woman in Central Park have expressed support for a New York City teacher who says she lost her job after teaching students about the case.

“We support her 100 percent,” Raymond Santana, a member of a group known as the Central Park Five, told The Huffington Post. “We’ll probably rally for her — go to the courthouse. I want her to keep doing what she’s doing. I hope this doesn’t discourage her.” He believes the teacher should be reinstated, he added.

Raymond Santana, right, Kevin Richardson, and Yusef Salaam, left, all members of the Central Park Five, react to supporters Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013, in New York.

Jeena Lee-Walker, who taught English at the High School of the Arts, Imagination and Inquiry in Manhattan’s Upper West Side, filed a federal lawsuit last week alleging that administrators at the school feared her lessons on the Central Park Five might “rile up” black students and cause small “riots.” They asked her to take a more “balanced” approach in teaching students about the case, her lawsuit claims.

“I was stunned,” Lee-Walker told the Daily News Friday. “I was kind of like, the facts are the facts. This is what happened.”

Students, she told the paper, “and black students in particular, should be riled up.”

Trailer for the Documentary –

Headline From the NY Daily News Creating the Term “Wilding” to describe out o control minority youth. A term which would enter the lexicon after being repeated again and again by periodicals and TV news around the country.

“It was awesome — they were so engaged,” she said of teaching her students about the Central Park Five, adding that they were “really moved” by a 2012 documentaryon the subject. “They really identified with the teenagers.”

Lee-Walker says she received a series of bad performance reviews, and was ultimately fired, in retaliation for pushing back against criticism from administrators over her Central Park Five lessons.

Santana, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam, Kevin Richardson and Korey Wise — all black and Latino men — were all under 16 years old when they were each arrested in 1989 for the beating and rape of Trisha Melli, a 28-year-old investment banker. The brutal attack dominated headlines, with the city’s tabloids stirring racially charged fears of “wilding” groups of violent black and Latino teenagers across the city.

Police zeroed in on the five teens, all of whom had reportedly been in or near Central Park at the time of the attack.

Each teen confessed to the crime during 24 hours of interrogation, but later claimed their statements had been coerced by police. They were all nevertheless convicted and sentenced to prison in 1990. (At the time, billionaire businessman and current Republican front-runner Donald Trump called for their execution.)

Santana, McCray, Salaam and Richardson each spent nearly six years in prison. Wise spent nearly 13 years in prison.

The convictions against the men were vacated in 2002 after a New York inmate named Matias Reyes confessed to raping Melli. Then-Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau announced that DNA evidence from the crime scene matched Reyes’ DNA.

In 2014, the city agreed to pay the five men a total of $40 million to settle a federal lawsuit they had filed. …Read the rest Here

 
 

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75 Years Late…Scottsboro Boys Pardoned

This was one of the major (Mis)Trials of the last century. 9 black Boys accused of raping two white women in the segregated, Jim Crow, Alabama of 1931.Amazingly enough, despite high tensions – they didn’t get lynched. All but one of the boys was convicted and given the death penalty. None of the Boys was executed, but spent long terms in jail.

The Scottsboro Boys, with attorney Samuel Leibowitz, under guard by the state militia, 1932

   Alabama grants posthumous pardons to Scottsboro Boys

Alabama’s parole board voted Thursday to grant posthumous pardons to men known as the Scottsboro Boys from a 1931 rape case.

The Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles granted full and unconditional pardons to three of the nine black boys who were falsely accused of raping two white women on a train in northeast Alabama in 1931.

The board unanimously approved the pardons for Haywood Patterson, Charlie Weems and Andy Wright after a short hearing in Montgomery. The three men were the last of the accused to have convictions from the case on their records.

“This decision will give them a final peace in their graves, wherever they are,” said Sheila Washington, director of the Scottsboro Museum and Cultural Center in Scottsboro, who helped initiate the petition.

Patterson, Weems and Wright, along with defendant Clarence Norris, were convicted on rape charges in 1937, after a six-year ordeal that included three trials, the recantation of one of the accusers and two landmark U.S. Supreme Court decisions on legal representation and the racial make-up of jury pools.

The men were all convicted by all-white juries, and all but the youngest defendant was sentenced to death.

Alabama ultimately dropped rape charges against five of the accused. Norris received a pardon before his death from Alabama Gov. George Wallace in 1976.

Last spring, the Alabama Legislature unanimously passed a law to allow the parole board to issue posthumous pardons for convictions at least 75 years old. The law was specifically designed to allow the pardon of the Scottsboro Boys to go forward.

In October, a group of scholars petitioned the Board of Pardons and Paroles to grant pardons to the men. The petition was endorsed by the judges and district attorneys of the counties where the initial trials took place.

“This is a different state than it was 80 years ago, and thank God for that,” said state Sen. Arthur Orr, a Republican from Decatur where the second and third round of trials took place. “It’s an important step for our state to take.”

Under Alabama law, pardons can only be granted to those who have felony convictions on their record. The petitioners had initially hoped the board would review the status of each of the defendants.

The Board’s decision led to a round of applause Thursday morning, but many of those who worked on the pardon called the news bittersweet. Patterson died of cancer in 1952, and many of the other defendants, including Weems and Wright, felt compelled to move out of Alabama and keep a low profile after their release from prison.

University of Alabama professor John Miller, who helped prepare the petition, said at the time of his pardon, Norris was living in New York under his brother’s name.

“With some of them, we really don’t know if they died with their right name, or a different name,” Washington said. “They no longer wanted to be known.”

Weems is known to have moved to the Atlanta area after his release, but his date of death is unknown. Washington said Wright, along with his brother Roy, another one of the Scottsboro Boys, is buried in Chattanooga, Tenn.

“It’s tragic in that those young men’s live were destroyed, all by a very biased and unfair judicial process,” Orr said. “The place where you seek justice did not dispense justice for these young men. It ruined their lives, some more than others, and it affected them to their graves.”

 
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Posted by on November 21, 2013 in Black History

 

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