Boys, 16 and 18, are Taken from Officers, Slain

Source Type: Newspaper
Creator: Sidney Walker
Publisher: The Pittsburgh Courier
Place of publication: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Date of publication: August 19, 1933

Boys, 16 and 18, are Taken From Officers; Slain


Action of I. L. D. Lawyers, Who Had Once Again Focused Eyes of World on State Made Notorious By Scottsboro Case, Given by Officials as Reason for Savage Display of Justice.




Tuscaloosa, Ala., Aug. 17 — With bullet wounds in his hip and leg, Elmore Clark, missing member of the trio which was attacked by an Alabama mob, was found in hiding Monday. A unit of the National Guard was being mobilized Tuesday to protect Clark, following rumors of the formation of a new mob to storm the jail for Clark.


By Sidney Walker (for the Associated Negro Press)


Birmingham, Ala., Aug. 17 — Two boys were lynched within 25 miles of this city Sunday morning. Their bodies were found, pock-marked with bullet holes. The victims were 18-year old Dan Pippen Jr. and 15-year old A. T. Hardin.


The lynchers were white Alabamians, descendants of savages who roamed Europe and lived in caves two thousand years ago. Their act demonstrated the slim hold which civilization after two thousand years has on them. They went primitive. As contrasted with the popular conception of Negroes who are supposed to show their primitivism in orgiastic dancing, these barbaric whites expressed theirs in a blood lust.


Besides lynching the boys, these white savages defied the legal machinery of the State and spit in the face of the so-called “best citizens.” They overthrew the county government and told the best people to go to hell.

Furthermore, they demonstrated that they will strike to kill before they will give the Negro a man’s chance in the courts.


To us Negroes who must live side by side with the masked savagery of these whites, the lynching was not a matter of surprise. Human life, if it be that of a Negro, is safer in the wilds of Africa where fierce jungle beasts seek their prey than it is in the rural and small-town sections of this State if suspicion is aroused against one in the minds of such whites as Samuel Leibowitz described at Decatur. We must speak with bated breath and look with furtive eye. For us the blow ever impends.


Two months ago the body of a white woman, 21-year old Vaudine Maddox, was found in a secluded spot in Tuscaloosa county. She had been murdered. Two days later three Negroes, the ones named above, were arrested in connection with the crime. They were indicted and held.


The International Labor Defense made preparations to defend the victims. Its representatives obtained the signature of the mother of one of the boys to defend Dan Pippen Jr. During the period between the arrest of the boys and the scheduled time for trial of Pippen, sentiment against the boys largely because of the interest of the I. L. D. in the case, grew. Pressure was brought against some Negro leaders in Tuscaloosa to protest against the I. L. D. Even Tuscaloosa Jewish merchants we coerced and asked that the I. L. D. stay out of the case. This was because, in the trial of the Scottsboro case, the I. L. D. lawyers had availed themselves of legal devices which challenged the unfair Jim Crow jury system in Alabama.


Trial of Pippen was scheduled in the Circuit Court of Tuscaloosa county before Judge Henry Foster. He appointed give lawyers of Tuscaloosa to defend the boys, including a former president of the Alabama Bar Association. The I. L. D. lawyers showed up and claimed the right to represent Pippen. They displayed a contract signed by Pippen’s mother.


Prior to the hearing, however, threats had been sent to the parents and relatives of the boys of what would happen to them if they recognized the I. L. D. in the case. As a consequence, Pippen’s mother, when confronted with her own signature on the contract, repudiated it. She was afraid for her life.   


Sentiment against the I. L. D. lawyers in Tuscaloosa on the day of the hearing was at white heat. Alabama guardsmen were required to escort them out of the city. The three lawyers, Irving Schwab and Allen Taub of New York and Frank Irvin of Birmingham, were required to don a disguise to keep the mob from recognizing them. A short distance from the courthouse in Tuscaloosa tear gas bombs were used to hold the mob off. After the lawyers had been placed aboard a train for Birmingham, the air line of the train was cut midway between Tuscaloosa and this city, and the train was stopped. A mob of 100 gathered at the side of the train, but declined to board the train in the face of the guardsmen’s rifles. That was thirteen days ago. The populace, thwarted in the attacks on the lawyers, turned to the boys in jail. Open threats of storming the jail were made. Saturday night at midnight a queer move was made. Without any court order, Sheriff R. L. Shamblin of Tuscaloosa county decided to move the boys to the Birmingham jail. He says he was afraid the Tuscaloosa jail would be broken into. He placed the prisoners and two deputies in his care. Another car, filled with deputies, trailed him. The two cars started out over a little-used road to cover the 60 miles to Birmingham. After they had gone 20 miles, the trailing car was sent back and the sheriff proceeded with his two deputies and the prisoners toward this city. A short distance within this county line the sheriff’s car was run down by two others filled with armed men, who demanded the prisoners. The sheriff and his deputies did not fight, though they had guns, too. They simply surrendered the boys to the mob.


If one did not have a high regard for Alabama law officers, he would be moved to say that the sheriff must have had a little understanding with the lynchers.


A few hours after the sheriff had given up his charges the bodies of the two victims were found at Woodstock.


And several hours after the bodies of the victims were picked up, Governor B. M. Miller, who, with others of Alabama citizens who have been saying that the I. L. D. and its Communist affiliates were lying in their charges of fiendishness against white Alabama, issued an executive order for investigation.
Of course, the investigation will come to nothing. A little jackanapes attorney general is unmoved by the murder of the Negro boys who were innocent until proven guilty.