Alabama Mob Kills Two Indicted Negros

Source Type: Newspaper
Publisher: The New York Times
Place of publication: New York, New York
Date of publication: 1933-08-14

Alabama Mob Kills 2 Indicted Negroes.

A Third is Carried Off by Armed Men, Who Waylay Sheriff and Deputies.

Governor Orders Inquiry.

Prisoners Were Being Moved to Birmingham After Threat—Officer Blames Labor Defense.

(Special to the New York Times)

Birmingham, Ala., Aug. 13—

Three Negroes, held under indictments charging them with the murder of a white girl 21 years old, were taken from officers and two were shot to death at Woodstock, 25 miles west of here, early this morning.

The Negroes slain were Dan Pippen, 18, and A. T. Harden, 16. Elmore Clark, 28, was carried off by the lynchers. He had not been located late today.

Sheriff R. L. Shamblin, who with several deputies was escorting the Negroes from Tuscaloosa to Birmingham for safe keeping, said the prisoners and escort left Tuscaloosa about midnight in two cars.

The Sheriff decided to remove the Negroes and to make the 60-mile trip to Birmingham after persistent rumors that an attack on the Tuscaloosa jail was planned for early Sunday.

Sheriff Shamblin, two deputies, and the three Negroes rode in the lead car, while a trailing car carried other deputies.

After selecting an unfrequented road to Birmingham and proceeding for about twenty miles without trouble, the trailing car turned back to Tuscaloosa. At a point just inside Jefferson County, according to the Sheriff, two machines filled with armed men closed in on his car and demanded the prisoners.

Negroes Surrendered by Sheriff

The Negroes were surrendered to the men and a report was made to the Jefferson County jail here. An immediate search for the men and the prisoners was started by Jefferson County officers, ending at daylight with the finding of the bullet-riddled bodies of the Negroes in Bibb County, near Woodstock.

Sheriff Shamblin declared that feeling had been at high pitch in Tuscaloosa ever since the parents of Pippen had stated on the witness stand on Aug. 2 that three International Labor Defense lawyers participating in the case had not been retained by them.

The lawyers, Irving Schwab and Allen Taub of New York, and Frank Irwin of Birmingham, submitted to the court a “contract” authorizing them to defend the Negroes and purporting to have been signed by the mother of Pippen.

On her testimony that she had not signed the contract or any such paper, Judge Henry L. Foster ruled the International Labor Defense attorneys out of the case and continued the trial to the next term of court.

The Labor Defense lawyers were escorted from the court and protected on their return to Birmingham by a company of the Alabama National Guard ordered to Tuscaloosa by Governor Miller.

Reports that a mob attempted to molest the attorneys on their way to Birmingham were denied by Major Torrey Jemison, commanding the troops who escorted them from Tuscaloosa.

Blames Labor Defense Lawyers

While a former president of the State Bar Association and two well-known local lawyers were appointed by the court to defend the Negroes, William L. Patterson, secretary of the International Labor Defense in New York, attacked Judge Foster’s exclusion of the Labor Defense attorneys, declaring that “lynch lawyers” were handling the case and that his organization would insist on defending the Negroes at the postponed trial.

Sheriff Shamblin blamed “the interference of the International Labor Defense” as being “directly responsible” for the lynching. He declared that he had “taken every precaution” to prevent the Negroes being seized by a mob.

Judge Foster said tonight that he had not authorized the removal of the Negroes to Birmingham and that he would call a special session of the grand jury at once to investigate the lynching.

The Negroes were indicted July 10 in the slaying of Miss Vaudine Maddox two days after the body of the young woman was found in a ravine near her home in Tuscaloosa County.

Another Negro was shot to death near Tuscaloosa this afternoon. He was reported by officers to have been slain when he resisted arrest with a club. He was wanted on a charge of stealing chickens.