Lynching is Murder

July 21, 1906

Summary

Legal aspects of lynching are in question when a judge decides to look at lynching as murder and “face it squarely.”

Transcription

Lynching is Murder
A mob of white men lynched John V. Johnson, also white at Wadesboro, North Carolina, May 20th, 1906 and the members of it are now on trial before Judge Thomas J. Shaw at Monroe, N.C. Many legal questions are being discussed and points raised. The charge of Judge Shaw to the grand jury July 16th, 1906 is of special interest, emphasizing as it does a phase of the lynching question that has always been perfectly clear to our mind. He said: “There is no reason why we should deal with this question with gloved hands. I has just as well face it squarely. The charge against these men overshadows all the other charges on the docket, and I don’t know what else is on the docket.”
He emphasized then the oath they had taken and elucidated the crime by perjury. The only escape for the guilty men is through perjury. So help him God, he declared to the jury, if justice should miscarry in this case, he would not be responsible for it. He described the lynchers of Johnson as a mob of cowards and satirized their claim to good citizenship’ he warned the jury against improper influences, and said that the issue here was clearly drawn between law and lawlessness, and that the men who participated in that mob “are guilty of murder in the first degree.”
When a southern judge has the courage to state so plain a legal fact is evident that the day it is breaking and that lawlessness will be surely checked in some of the states in the Southland. The amusing phase of the situation is the effort now being made by counsel for the alleged murderers to have the cases sent back to Anson county where the crime was committed. After hearing that charge the lynchers felt that they had not only reached the gates of Hell, so to speak, but that they were well-nigh in Hell itself.
About this article

Location on Page

Lower Left Quadrant

Topic

Contributed By

Emma Roberts

Citation

“Lynching is Murder,” Black Virginia: The Richmond Planet, 1894-1909, accessed June 22, 2018, http://blackvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/453.