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The Militant, 28 September 1946

Milton Richardson

Republicans and Democrats Guilty
of Lynch Terror Against Negroes

From The Militant, Vol. X No. 39, 28 September 1946, p. 7.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Milton Richardson is SWP Candidate for Lt.-Governor of N.Y.

All of us who are Negro citizens and veterans know the kind of treatment the Negroes have been getting throughout the “Democratic” South. You are shocked by the Tennessee race terror, the Mississippi lynchings, the Louisiana blow-torch murder, the gouging out of veterans’ eyes and the quadruple lynching in Georgia. You have come to expect these horrors in the home of the Southern Bourbons – the home of the great “Democrats.”

But what is less understood by the Negro people is the fact that the Republican Party is equally guilty. Right here in New York, in Freeport, Long Island, in the heart of the Republican stronghold – Nassau Country – two Negro brothers were also lynched. And the Republican Party leaders supported the lynchers.

The four Ferguson brothers, three of them veterans, were celebrating their reunion after the war. They went into a cafe to get a cup of cofee. They were told: “We can’t serve you.” After leaving the cafe they were accosted by a policeman, who lined them up against the wall and shot them down in cold blood. Two were murdered. The other two were thrown into jail, and denied even medical attention.

Both Exonerated

What is interesting is that the boys were exonerated by both Army and Navy officials, The wounded brother, who was in the Navy was taken out of the brig and brought up for court martial. The Navy brass was forced to admit that he was innocent of any misdemeanor. They were unable to deprive him of his rating in the Navy. One of the murdered boys, who was in the Army, was exonerated by the Army brass.

Every soldier and veteran knows that the brass hats do everything in their power to dodge responsibility for soldiers, especially Negro soldiers, who are killed except on the battlefronts. Yet, in the case of the murdered Negro soldier, they were compelled to state that he was killed while in the line of duty. They were forced to provide compensation for his wife and children.

Yet, in the face of this exoneration by the Army and Navy, the Republican state machine whitewashed the policeman-killer and upheld the local authorities. In what way does this differ from the Democratic lynch-law of the deep South?

For six months Governor Dewey did nothing whatever, despite the indignant protest of the labor and progressive movement. Finally, as election time drew near, Dewey decided to make a gesture on this case, so as to keep the votes of the Negro peoples.

Fake Investigation

Dewey appointed a private “investigation” committee, under his own legal hack, Greenbaum. The hearings were rigidly controlled from beginning to end. Labor and Negro organizations were denied an opportunity to freely take part in the “investigation.”

All the witnesses admitted to the hearings first had to give their testimony in private to Greenbaum. If he didn’t like the kind of testimony they gave, the facts never reached the hearings. At the end of this fake “investigation,” the policeman and local authorities guilty of the crime were exonerated.

Outstanding in the fight for bringing the criminals to justice was the Socialist Workers Party. They gathered and submitted petitions bearing the signatures of 6,000 New York residents, calling for a public investigation under the provisions of the Ives-Quinn law.

My running mate, the SWP candidate for Governor, Farrell Dobbs, sent a telegram to Governor Dewey stating:

“Your whitewash of the murder of the Ferguson brothers is one of the most brazen acts of injustices in the history of New York State. By this action your administration joins company with Bilbo, Talmadge, Rankin and the entire Southern lynch mob ... An administration which permits killers to roam the streets at large is a danger to the peace and security of the citizens and cannot be entrusted with public responsibility.”

Vote to Protest

As SWP candidate for Lieutenant-Governor of New York in the coming elections, I want to say to the Negro people of this state:

You will have a chance this fall to demonstrate your indignation against this brutal crime and against all Jim-Crow atrocities throughout the country. I call upon you, the Negro citizens of New York to come out and vote in mass. I call upon you to vote against the twin parties of the capitalist class, both Republican and Democratic, and to vote for the Socialist Workers Party ticket.


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