1932 October 2

LA Police Break Up Scottsboro Defense Meeting in Long Beach, CA


American Legion members helped Los Angeles police break up a rally of 1,000 people at the Long Beach Free Speech Zone, who were supporting defendants in the famous Scottsboro case. The Scottsboro case began on March 25, 1931 and involved nine young African-American men arrested for allegedly raping two white women in Scottsboro, Alabama. It became the most important civil rights cause of the 1930s. Two people were arrested in the incident on this day, which was one of 11 political meetings reportedly broken up by LA police in 1932, often with assistance of the American Legion.

The American Legion was founded on November 10, 1919 and was one of the most aggressive anti-Communist voices during the 20th century. For some of its anti-civil liberties actions, see August 3, 1929; August 6, 1954, when one of its chapters declared the Girl Scout Handbook “subversive;” and February 22, 1964, when it tried to hound a California school teacher out of her job.

The first national report on police misconduct was the 1931 Wickersham Commission report on Lawlessness in Law Enforcement, released on August 10, 1931, which found that the “Third Degree,” using brutal methods to gain confessions, was “widespread.”

Read about the Scottsboro case: Dan T. Carter, Scottsboro: A Tragedy of the American South (1969)

Douglas O. Linder: “No crime in American history — let alone a crime that never occurred — produced as many trials, convictions, reversals, and retrials as did an alleged gang rape of two white girls by nine black teenagers on the Southern Railroad freight run from Chattanooga to Memphis on March 25, 1931.”

The quote and more about the case: http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/scottsboro/scottsb.htm

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