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The Militant, 14 September 1946

Identified Lynchers Still at Large

Oil Swindle Motive Disclosed in Louisiana Lynch Murder

From The Militant, Vol. X No. 37, 14 September 1946, p. 7.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


For over two weeks, the FBI has known the names of 13 Louisiana white men, including three deputy sheriffs, who murdered John C. Jones, 28-year-old Negro veteran, and left for dead Albert Harris, Jr., 17-year-old Negro youth. Yet federal authorities have hot even arrested and questioned the lynch gang!

This week the story of the blow-torch and meat-cleaver lynch murder grew even more sordid. Theft of oil rights once owned by the grandfather of the two victims, emerged as a “possible motive” for the torture-killing which took place at Minden, Louisiana, on August 5.

Albert Harris Sr., father of the surviving youth, who accompanied him on the dangerous flight North, told his story to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

He revealed that many years ago, oil had been discovered on the land of the boys’ grandfather. The grandfather, now 76 years old, “leased” these oil wells to a powerful oil syndicate. One of the wells still pours out thousands of barrels of oil, and for this, the poverty-stricken old man receives $1.50 a month.

‘Odd’ Circumstances

According to Mr. Harris, the circumstances under which the syndicate got the oil rights were “odd,” since the aged grandfather can neither read nor write.

The NAACP points out that after the brutal lynching became known, “careful efforts” had been made to mislead the first newsmen to report the crime. The usual false charges of “attempt to rape a white woman” were given out, although both victims had already been released from the Minden jail when the white woman allegedly involved had refused to file a complaint.

After their release from jail Albert Harris, Jr. and Jones were seized by a waiting lynch mob and driven into the swamps. Harris was beaten for hours, kicked in the stomach, and left for dead. When he awakened in the morning he found his cousin still alive, his face charred by a blow-torch and his hands chopped off. Jones died in Albert’s arms. Albert escaped and made his way North.

NAACP investigators, working in Minden under constant threat, tracked down clues given them by Albert, and turned over their information to the FBI. But the government is stalling and the lynchers walk the streets.

This is not the only case in which the FBI holds information to convict lynchers, and fails to make arrests. On July 29, the NAACP turned over the names of several of the lynchers who killed two Negro men and two Negro women in Georgia! There, too, the race-hate murderers still walk the streets, free to slay again.

The labor movement must demand that the government stop the atrocities against the Negro people. It must launch, together with Negro and civil liberties organizations, a full-scale campaign for a federal anti-lynch law, that will make the national government responsible for halting the lynchers.

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