Sunday, June 15, 2008

On June 15

On this day in ...
... 2000, 6 weeks after they arrived to quell violence, the major portion of British troops left civil-war-torn Sierra Leone. They had entered, according to the BBC, "because a peace deal between government and rebels had broken down and rebel forces were scoring successes against the Sierra Leone army and the UN peacekeeping force." With the British departure responsibility for security in the West African country was returned to the United Nations. (map credit)
... 1920, a mob of thousands took part in the lynching of 3 men in Duluth, Minnesota. The victims were among 6 circus workers who'd been jailed on charges that they had committed robbery and sexual assault, charges "for which little to no evidence was garnered." The rest of the story:

The Minnesota National Guard came the next day to restore order and protect the three surviving black prisoners, but irreparable damage had been done. Black residents of Duluth felt unsafe in their hometown. Over time, a significant number chose to leave the city for good. Newspapers all over the country were appalled that such a horrible thing had happened in a Northern state. Justice for the atrocity appeared nonexistent in the following weeks, as only three people involved in the lynching received any type of incarceration – and that for rioting, not murder. ...
The lights in this dark section of Minnesota’s history are twofold. First, a local Duluth
chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was formed
in 1920 as a result of the ordeal. Second, after much work by the black community including Nellie Francis, a social activist from St. Paul, an anti-lynching bill was created and signed into Minnesota law in 1921.
Francis (above right), an African-American Republican, is among the 25 women profiled in The Privilege for Which We Struggled: Leaders of the Woman Suffrage Movement in Minnesota (Heidi Bauer ed. 1999). In 2005, the U.S. Senate apologized for its failure to pass a federal anti-lynching bill.

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