As the new coronavirus spreads through the U.S., we chronicle how it came to California, with the voices of first responders, experts and passengers quarantined on a cruise ship docked in San Francisco Bay.
Plus, we hear the story of an African American man who decades ago was shot and killed by a police officer who later became leader of the Ku Klux Klan.
Don’t miss out on the next big story. Get the Weekly Reveal newsletter today.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
From the centre for investigative reporting in key are ex? This is revealed I'm alive today on the shop. We're gonna tell you the story of a black man.
Killing more than eighty years ago raises disturbing questions, Club Yoletta Police Department, but
the spread of the new corona virus at the top of everyone's. Might we devoting the first part of our our to delving it by now. This probably said
Familiar infected people, gotta respiratory illnesses, health ages, Recap issued travelled advice for experts on my list of this pact. We controlled it could lead to a severe pandemic, an outbreak that circles the globe and affects people everywhere. News cliffs, covering the global corona virus outbreak rights, brought these actors playing news castors in a high level pandemic practice
that's yearly close to what we are seeing now. The global economy within a free fall, the GDP down eleven percent. The drill happened last October it, but for two months before chinese health officials with public, with the discovery of the highly contagious illness, we now call covered nineteen atop. U S public health officer was there with international health officials, academics and business leaders. They gather in New York City to imagine a new corona virus spreading uncontrollably around the globe. The boy was to drive home the need to be prepared and today
well as they say. This is not a drill. These news reports are real. I shall, as reporting the first death from a mysterious outbreak and will harm province pandemic, spreads from ITALY. Iran,
South Korea is really confirming the second case. The virus near the United States, public. Those emergency of international resilience acknowledge what is now obvious. We don't have enough terse. Nowadays, you ass now has its froze to death related to corrosive exertion in California, has tested positive for the virus. Let's freeze right there, the verse still spreading, but today were teaming up with kids
today in San Francisco and CAP radio in Sacramento to stop and look at what went right and what went wrong. In the first. We
After the novel corona Vires arrived in California, Rewarder Lizzie MC clerk of Kate. You indeed takes it from here,
Mr Cross, the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco is Marine County were
door. Mat Willis is in charge of public health, so, of course he paid attention when he heard reports of a new virus in China. It was the first week of of twenty twenty.
Where is somewhat alarming reports of rapid increases in cases it was clear that this virus had the characteristics for for global, spread, soon, the? U S,
its first case. To light the CDC says, the infected passenger passed through busy see tack airport in Seattle. The new virus seemed a hit
older adults hardest about a third of the people living in Marine County are over sixty so Willis when on alert,
first I took was just moving my office down to where my communicable disease team works.
Knowing that we're gonna be working together pretty hard for weeks or months on this
On the last day of January. U S health and human service.
Secretary Alex Aser declared a public health emergency beginning at five p m Sunday February. The second, the United States government will implement temporary measures to detect and contain the cannot promote a virus. The federal government evacuated a couple plain loads of Americans from a cruise ship in Japan and put them in quarantine over a hundred ended up a Travis AIR Force base about an hour east of San Francisco. U S airport,
again screening passengers, travel and especially to China, slowed weighed down with the State Department issuing a level four do not travel advice refer all of China, American Airlines, United in Delta, or suspending operations they'll, but many people had already flown to California from China before word of the virus was widespread. The federal centres for Disease Control and prevention, told Willis and other public health officials to use airline passenger lists to start tracking people returning to their communities, and that was initially there. Anyone who had returned from China we needed to monitor for at least two weeks for the development of symptoms. At this point, the only confirmed cases of covert nineteen can be traced back either to recent travel or direct contact with an infected person. The CDC testing guidelines reflected that, if you didn't meet those two criteria, you weren't going to be tested,
even if you are showing symptoms for people who were eligible Willis staff, could do a test, send it to see DC headquarters in Atlantic and wait for results, but there weren't nearly enough tat even to cover the CDC directive. So we were apply. A more stringent courage
we are here in counties really limit the tests for those who need it most. Will I suspected more info
since we are on the way. This is what it looks like one. An epidemic spreads its first brought in from identify best forces on the other
and then what did establishes a foothold certain becoming exchange between people within the community and so we're just now that point we were waiting to see when that would it
and then a dead on February. Twenty sixth hospital in Sacramento about two hours EAST announced,
treating a woman's sick with the virus who hadn't travelled anywhere or been exposed to anyone infected, which was a
and ass. They were
running to see community transmission in our region. This was a turning point in the first case of community transmission in the country it had taken to hospitals more than a week to confirm her illness, partly because she wasn't eligible for testing finally, a few days later, the city
the expanded their criteria than on March forth, a man in California died of complications from covert nineteen he'd been accrues to Mexico, the governor declared,
a state of emergency and the state of California and the next morning
any other killin went to work she's a nurse at a barrier hospital for first patient that war,
an eighty year old man with a fever struggling to breathe the potential case of covered nineteen honestly, I was really surprised surprised because she didn't feel prepared to care for a potential corona virus patient. She says she and her colleagues that morning hadn't had any training,
what the krona virus are. They really just reviewed a few things in huddle for a few minutes and they asked us to watch a video. The emergency
combined with confusion. They decided to test him a doctor handed Sandy a few test tubes and a handful of paperwork to fill out. No one knew how to get the samples to the county lab. We ended up not knowing exactly how to handle that do where we supposed to call the courier
were these samples supposed to be handled Sandy continue to work, not knowing for several days whether she'd been exposed to the virus. A few days later, she found out, luckily, no, but with more
but two cases showing up in the region. Workers in some hospitals were sent home. The self quarantine testing was too slow to figure out who was actually infected. The testing has been such a debacle and it feels like such an unnecessary
We D Barcoe Doktor seem a Yasmine. Is a public health specialists and epidemiologist at Stanford University, a so called disease detective. I have investigated outbreaks of flesh eating bacteria of what shall I not talk? Thin
whooping cough measles, mumps. All of that regular staff as well she's, been watching corona virus management at the national level. It was really unfortunate. She says that in early February, just as the outbreak has started,
Brad beyond China, the CDC released faulty tests kits,
think, ok. Well, you making in a rush. These things happen, that's fine, but we need to quickly iterate, but the aid
see lad in sending improve tests out to local public health departments and scientists outside the government had a lot of time
getting authorization to develop their own tests. Another issue is that by the time the
did you see, was sending out its testing kids to some labs across the state. The World Health organization had sent out tests to dozens of countries who, by that point, had done hundreds and thousands of test. Doktor Stephen read from the CDC publicly defended the? U S: approach:
there is a process of developing tests. When there's a new disease, we followed that procedure
There was a need to follow the W H show test. Some countries
their own tests by MID March,
of Korea had done more than two hundred thousand of them by this.
He sees count only about it.
Then thousand tests had been done here by that same time, but some question that number, because tracking has been problematic. Doktor Robert Redfield, the director of the CDC, testified in early March that fund
It is part of the problem like CDC. The state and local territorial departments are under funded. Wouldn't it be nice if we had a data system that every health department in this country right now see in real time
so there we could predict what's going on and where to go where put assets, we don't have that
Oh yeah says communication and transparency have been problems from the top down the White House resist
releasing several advisory from the State Department and CDC like warning
arrogance against getting on cruise ships,
and in early March an online tracker of testing numbers unexpectedly vanished, so think about all those costs
We had about chinese officials with
data while magically data diesel,
he is from the CDC website.
For people who get mildly ill from the virus or who have good healthcare. The lack of tests and information might all add up to just a hassle, but each misstep, Doktor Yasmine says, puts vulnerable people at higher risk,
About twenty, eight million Americans are uninsured and another.
Thirty four million are under insured. This is a story of health inequity, unequal access to health care.
Rich people having the means. The result
since the time the networks to protect themselves, while the homeless, the incarcerated,
people living on the margins of society. Those of the people. I worry about the most
Iris moving around uncontrolled and the community is dangerous for everyone and with the lack of widespread rapid
sitting. There was no way to know how many people were infected. Health officials realized they couldn't stop the spread of the virus.
So some local governments which strategies they move from trying to contain it to trying to slow it down. Several counties like Sacramento, which had the nations first case of community transmission, called off the automatic quarantines for possible exposure, Sacramento counties top public health official
Peter balancing held a press conference. There is no point in point yearning for fourteen days a person is feeling healthy right if they feel sick.
They should stay home theoretically. This should help ease the burden on the healthcare system. If doctors and nurses can keep going to work despite possible exposure and those who are sick and get the care they need, this policy shift was also was
make it easier to get tested, but there still weren't enough Kith. Yes,
takes a long time because we didn't get the test CDC until a couple weeks ago, we only have twenty test
we can do in a given day, Marvin and Ellen Schwartz with Love one of those precious tough. The senior couple were on the
a ship that was held on the coast of San Francisco. Recently gush above partner was shattered, weak
We have started here, rumours that there were some concern. U S, officials flew test out to the ship as it waited to dock, but they only tested forty five people out of several thousand many of them are now quarantine at a simple hotel again on Travis AIR Force Base on his first day, their Marvin washed out the window as more crucial,
centres arrived now, I see that a coming off the birth believe someone in a wheelchair.
This kind of coups attracts older people. Neither Marvin nor Ellen are showing symptoms
They have no idea if they ve caught the corona virus. Ellen really wants to be tested. I mean even made the people who have that people do in and took our camp at church.
Do not know whether we will have the option of being customs officials say
tests are coming, but it's not clear when, for now Ellen
the half red novel, the TV and Marvin to keep her entertained until the government tells her she can go home. That's casualties, Leslie, Leclerc, thanks also to reporter, Nicole Nixon from capital.
For bringing this historic testing is becoming more available by the day, but exports
the? U S is still lagging far behind. Where needs speaking
one of the reasons the cruise ship passengers are being quarantine is because there's no vaccine to protect the rest of us from corroded bars scientists across the world are rushing
create a vaccine, including Maria Alina Potassae she's, a professor and co director for the centre for vaccine development, a bailiff College of medicine,
in Houston, Maria Lane of thanks so much for talking to us. I thank you for having me on your show. So what are the past few weeks been like for you, so the past few weeks have been at the same time quite frustrating and exciting, because we do know that we possibly could have a vaccine.
That could prevent cases of fact or on a virus. The vaccine, Maria later is so excited about, is won. Her team develop to protect against an earlier outbreak of another corona virus, called Sars one she's frustrated because she didn't get to finish the project, thus because, after spending millions of dollars to support this research, the National Institutes of Health pull the plug. This wasn't choice. Sixty Maria laid his team try to get funding from other agencies in private investors, but no one was interested by then the Sars one outbreak been over for more than a decade. So I think that priorities shifted with the area of the funders and that our priority is shifted with the attention, even to be honest, the public attention
lily go back to the science. A little big. Can you explain the similarity in the two viruses, the Sars and the corona soda similarity between Sars? One and corona buyers comes from its genetic code, so they are not genetically if you look at their amino acid or dna sequence in other very similar. In fact, when you then look the mechanisms that these viruses used to infect yourselves, we know that these two viruses use the same receptor this
a mechanism to infect the human cells, especially the cells in your lungs, and if you had already developed a vaccine that specifically blocks that ability of the virus to enter the cells, we could potentially very and may be looking at how he would protect against the cold
Nineteen loser like for you and twenty sixteen. When no one would fund your project so again go I go back to
a little bit of a level of frustration and me we certainly are a small group where a very passionate group that tries to develop vaccines that in especially, are for not only impoverish populations, but that in a wood, address very important and timely health issues, so we were disappointed. The agency's certainly had other problems I were occurring in the world knows you know I can relate to the legal like sperience, but you know that certainly is not ultimately and excuse. Right me. We can just put things on hold, while others things pop up on me. We're playing a welcome will gain here. As you know, right
we have to do things in parallel because, as one thing is unresolved and attended to other things are also arising. If you have gotten more funding in twenty six team, would your vaccine be saving lives? Now? The answer would probably yes if we would have done for years ago what we are attempting to start doing today. We would be four years ahead of the game and we would at least know it would not be useful or yes, it would be useful rather than now asking that question without having the ability of moving it very quickly. Does it make sense to continue to develop a vaccine did not approve
but I strongly believe that we should evaluate everything that we have, especially those that are even for other types of Sars and
reason why I say this is because what is very important for us is reduce deaths, reduce severity, so probably are vaccine could do that, even though we may not be perfect fit. Most importantly, knowing that there is going to be a huge
likelihood that we're going to have another coronavirus in the future? I think that the need to look at everything that we have and not just say it. Well, you know this one was for an old virus is not going to apply for the new virus is absolutely amazed,
have you got in funding to further work on the original vexing, so where's
trying to get some funding to move our vexing out of the freezer and moving to safety testing in humans. The end I ate is going to give us some funds to see if we can also start activities to develop a very specific coded nineteen vaccine, so that is, of course great, but we still haven't been able to,
belies the vaccine that we have in the freezer. Unless close you for you, so the World Health Organisation has now come out and said that the corona wires outbreak is a pandemic. What does it actually mean for people who don't follow the Cyprus as well? I think that, first and foremost, we have two not enter into a crisis. Maud and not a population should keep a common sense. I think we all have to undergo
and that now each had a different level. We certainly would like to continue our daily lives with us minimal interruptions ass possible. But more specifically, I think me
be you- and I know we are healthy- may be that we are young, but we have to remember that the people who are really being highly affected are in people who are older. You know that
be there even confined in nursing homes, and that is the fact that we ourselves, knowing that we may not be able to go, see our families like, for example, my father is in Heaven,
for Us- and I know that stressed that this will bring to the honduran health system and of course, the worst that I can do. Is me travel going to see my dad as much as I wish. I could be with him because he's an eighty seven year old man that I don't know if I'm a symptomatic or eventually him then transmitted to him. So we need to be cognisant of the decisions we make. We have to wash our hands absolutely constantly in a bomb. Your elbows don't kiss everybody on the streets. Right and I know it's gonna be hard.
But if we all join forces, we are big huge community in the world and I think we're gonna get over this Maria later, because he is the code director of the centre for vaccine development, a bailiff College of medicine. Thank you so much for talking to us. Thank you. It's been an absolute pleasure to speak to your radio listeners. Are you a health professional with information on the fight against the corona? Worse, we wanna hear from you
get in touch by going to reveal news, dot, Org, slash tips. That's reveal,
whose dot org slash tips. When we return, we look back upon
full chapter in american history, the linking of African Americans and the efforts to come.
Hey, hey, hey legacy, you're listening to reveal
Hey: hey, hey it's out here with my latest podcast pig in there's so much happening,
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from the centre for investigative reporting. A pr ex this is reveal a moment. The national memorial for peace and justice in Montgomery Alabama is dedicated to the victims of white supremacy in America and in particular the thousands of black people who will launch.
I went there recently and I just don't have the words for how much it moved me. It's a striking open air pavilion with hundreds of suspended steel columns engraved with
thousands of names, the opening of the memorial and a nearby museum in twenty eighteen june- big crowds,
worldwide attention. The legacy museum immemorial, provides a mirror to face some of the ugliness in this country's past, for there is no way we can heal until we first acknowledge and address our wounds. Dealing with alludes is what this memorial sets out to do. Reporter Stephanie Stokes came here a few months after the memorial opened its an emotional experience. It's pretty overwhelming you pass through all these columns with the names of victims of launching and you, you grasped the immensity of this part of our our country's history, Stephanie reports on inequality and racial discrimination for public radio Station W A b e lemme. She originally brought us the story back in the fall when she found the names of lynching victims from Atlanta. Some of the information was pretty familiar to her and it's important,
that. A lynching isn't always a hanging is any killing where mob takes the law into his own hands. There are a bunch of names that all correspond to this one event that took place in one thousand nine hundred and six. They call it the Atlanta race Riot, but really it was a white blob that killed twenty five black people
after that. I actually see a name I had never heard of before it said Thomas Finch and then the date, one thousand nine hundred and thirty six
I look around at the memorial and there is no information. One o informational, Thomas
a group behind the memorial, the equal justice initiative. They did a bunch of research to figure out which names
under the memorial, but they haven't made that research public. Yet I do know there are a few different lynching data bases
created decades ago that the memorial used, but
in general. You have to understand these cases did take place. Quite a long time ago, Stephanie Doug into the newspaper archives,
on a brief story in the Atlantic constitution, which can
the two white audience in the nineteen thirties and says that he was accused of rape
I await woman and police picked him up. He tried to escape and he reached for
Officers gone in that officer fired three times. That is a story that I've heard so many times both. Historically,
but also in modern day, America, suspect, reaches for offices, gun and play.
The officer ends up shooting this aspect, yeah, that's what I wanted to
more information, and I did in black newspapers from the time their stories actually question. The police narrative then,
find this unpublished, investigation and the local archive hear. It said that Thomas French was launched by the Atlanta police
so, even though this story happened in the thirties, it feels really relevant to today
it believer in understanding what happened in the past so that we can navigate the present the future. So you going back looking into the past. How do you do that? I didn't just want to find the details of
took place. I wanted to find the people who are around now the descendants
Those involved and the first person I reach is Thomas Finches niece and her name is Joyce Finch Morris High Stephanie. My name is joy,
Finch Morris, and I am returning your call. This is related to my uncle Tom. A cinch choice doesn't sound surprised to hear from me.
A student at Northeastern University had contacted her about Thomas Finches case the year before we set up a time to go over the research I gathered
lives in our childhood home and Atlantis Grove Park Neighbourhood. It's an old stone, schoolhouse area.
I'll, send cider decorated with paintings she's collected over the years, mostly by african american artists and Mama,
does from her travels around the world choices dressed carefully, she's formal, a little subdued.
But she doesn't hesitate to answer any questions about her life.
Her family, although she says, there's a lot she doesn't know she tells me she moved back,
to only a few years ago. Do you like Atlanta, I I left Atlanta, because I really did not like it
in the fifties in the sixties and when I go to other places where we go, did you see I've got a new Yorker away? I didn't see some of the restrictions their eyes towards here. Restrictions like having to use the back door, the movie theater choices family as part of the city's black middle class, but the realities of separate
which were still there and she says in places like New York? She just thought there was more culture, the theatre, the museum,
is what I wanted out of New York Atlanta just didn't. Have she moved to New York in her twenties
darted a career and finance and community development. She ended up away from Atlanta for fifty years today. Joyce
What's she never got around to asking her parents for more of their history. She remembers when she was young. She tried to learn about her dad's brother Thomas. He died more than a decade before she was born, but it was not something that was discussed and I because I got it
then too painful prows, her mom was the only one who talked about her uncles death. My mother said that he was ledge because he was dating someone white.
But that's all I knew I didn't know any details about.
Oh Anne, who did it? I opened
laptop on her dining room table, and I realize I have more information about this part of the families history than Joyce. We starts growing through the documents. Where were you when we look at the report, I found by a civil rights group called the commission on interracial cooperation. The commission's work isn't widely known today, but in the early part of the twentieth century it fought against lynching, along with groups like the Underbelly c p. Although the commission's leaders were mainly white, can you may get just a little larger yet
the report says Thomas Finch was an orderly Grady outlines all this public hospital one day a white patient named a zealous Smith, accused him of taking her into a closet and raping her Thomas's. Wake
because I didn't believe the assault could have happened for one. The clause
the word allegedly took place? Wasn't earshot of doctors, offices small according to the commission,
This is what happened next to Atlanta police officers came to the
spittle to find out where Thomas lived, but they didn't
to his home right away. They were
hours until three in the morning when they show
they weren't alone, the Finch family, noticed several other people, it's not clear who standing behind the two officers they arrest.
Thomas but never took him to the police station instead about it.
Our later. They brought him to Grady Hospital. He had been be in and shot as show joys, her uncle s death certificate, so you can see causing death here, gunshot wounds of the chest and after twenty seven, while the commission's report concludes that Thomas French was wrongly accused of rape and then lynched, but there is another important detail. I show joys and newspaper story for more than a decade after Thomas's death, it's about the Atlanta police officer who shot him claiming it was in self defense, his name Samuel Roper. This is energy. Oh, he was a cake. Cuba clansmen
The article says Roper became the national leader of the complex clan o circus, that shouldn't suppose anybody Joyce seems com, but I see her scrunch in her eyebrows at times. Trying to make sense of all this, then her thoughts shift to the present. The question is: where can this all lead clue be exaggerated? After the fact, I have no idea, like ass, a family members that something you want if he was innocent of course. Yes, this is a new question that I hadn't.
What would it take to set the record straight and a case that happened eighty years ago I tell joys I'll, let her know Irvine cover anything more.
I go back into the city records. I check notes.
The police committee from the week. He died board minutes from Grady Hospital, nothing about Thomas,
French or the commission's investigation into his death. It doesn't seem like there,
Port was even made public
One of the only experts I reach, who has any record of Thomas Finch, is em back
what do you want to start by introducing yourself? I am burger profess rumours, sociology, Josiah, Migs, distinguished teaching, professor emeritus, a diversity of Georgia. He spent the last few decades,
hoping lynching database? I ask him why the city never followed up on the commission's findings. I know most
Earl lynchings never got a thorough review, but I also thought
You know this is Atlanta. This is the city of Atlanta couldn't something here.
Been there that might not be able to happen
elsewhere in the south. Well, you think about is what it's all white power structure, and so you ve got to ask what is it in their interests to try to pursue these things, and especially
if it involves the police, and I would say that they have no interest in the police in view.
Apparently made the underbelly c p uneasy too. In a letter, the groups to
your Walter White didn't want to call Thomas's case a lynching, at least at first professor backs as the history of police and lynchings as murky. He can think of maybe thirty cases like Thomas's. There could be more
the problem is the only written records are the officers own reports with a woman
We know it after the revival of local clucks clan and nineteen fifteen is that one of the things that the plan did was try to recruit. Policemen,
policemen like Samuel Roper,
He wasn't the only Atlanta officer loyal to the clan in the nineteen thirty, this deepest from an oral history,
with former Atlanta Police Chief Herbert Jenkins will
almost rated most of the members. At one time most of the members of police Department were members of the Ku Klux Klan
Police department was full of clan members in the nineteen thirties. It gets me thinking about other police shootings from the time like the officer who was with Roper the night Thomas died. I see that he,
killed at least five black men in his career. In one case, he used a machine gun, but
so many years later. There's no evidence to prove these were anything other than officer involve shootings. That's what makes Thomas finches case stand out, as professor back says, of the transfer of Thomas FUCK. It becomes law, especially with the report Dunbar the, or to see the commissioner Rachel,
operation in fact suggest that you know yeah, he was tea would fall into the definition of what a our lynching would be. The commission's investigation entity
his death is the most reliable information I may ever have, but my reporting isn't done. There were two other people directly connected to this case and I want to talk to them.
Families. The first person Stephanie Drakestail, is the relative of Samuel Wilbur, the maid, who killed Thomas Finch
far enough back. We all have ancestors that did.
Skin man- that's next movie
from the centre for investigate reporting in p r ex. This is reveal a mallet we're looking at the killing of a black man named
Miss Finch that happened in line and nineteen thirty six police claim they acted in self defence, but local civil rights group determined he was lynched reporter Stephanie Stokes picks up the story of the officer who shot Finch
It isn't that hard to trace the life and career of Samuel Roper. He served in the Atlanta Police Department,
then moved at the ladder weigh up the ladder to lead the Georgia beer
the investigation making him the states top law enforcement officer after that
In the late nineteenth forties. He took over the national leadership of the coup Klux clan. I look up. Robe residuary.
From there I'm able to find his grandson can't Giles. We talk a few times he's never heard of Thomas French and he's reluctant to do an interview.
But after he goes over my research, he agrees and I drive to his house in Marble Hill. A rural area north of Atlanta. Kent is ready for me. He's arranged all the document
I gave him on his dining room table along with a small pad where he's written down, notes he's friendly. But when I turn
there were quarter the room feels a little tents say you are a kind of nervous.
Be misrepresented in this story as cures. Would you want to talk about that at all? What I just think that is always a risk by association I think most people,
I understand that none of us are ancestors. If we go far enough back, we are
of ancestors that did they
Good and bad can says he knew his grandfather. Roper
until he was ninety. They would talk about his service in the first World WAR and his career in law enforcement, and eventually the clan,
can't says his grandfather only joined to get ahead in politics here,
members asking about the violence. The hate group is known for so you know
when you were headed the k, K K, which was actually, I think, he's grand imperial wizard, maybe a total of a year to eighteen months. I wasn't very long. He said that he never condone lynching and newspapers report
here, we are saying that you know we will consider our political activism for white supremacy,
but we will not. You know, condone violence. I saw an article where Roper set the crane
did not condone violence, but I tell
about another article, one where the clan was accused of bombing the homes of black families in Atlanta Roper was in charge, then cancer.
His grandfather blame that kind of violence on fringe members, he compares his grandfather to Georgia, Governor Eugene Talmash. He was a clan sympathiser who, by the way, fought to keep black people from voting, knows no question. The politics was segregated mistake,
It was white supremacist. They were staunchly anticommunist most of the things it.
I understood about them and about their era were political things. So what does can't make of Thomas Finches case? Then? He goes through the commission's report point by point yeah. It's it's a lot of data
nobody. He says he agrees with the commission that there are aspects of the case that seem off like the police arresting Thomas and three a m. While the commission's all this as a police sponsored lynching, can't comes to a very different thing.
Pollution. What our red ended this severe is there the police were concerned
There was be a lynching or some kind of activity, other Bobby accusers family,
or some races group in in other words, can believes,
grandfather was trying to protect Thomas French from a mob, not conspiring with one. Then he thinks Thomas tried to escape and reached for his grandfathers gun. This is what the officers claimed at the time
can't says he can totally see why others might side with the commission's accounts. I tell him yeah for a lot of people right if they here
There was a case that is from the nineteen. Thirty. Is that a civil rights groups,
it's probably a launching, and then they hear that the shooter involved was later the leader of the coup Klux clan in the south.
They're, probably going to feel pretty sir and about what happened that it wants.
The lynching rain I mean. Would you tell those people that they're wrong? Well, I think that
I think all of us have to be honest and say, were viewing the world through certain filters, so I would say to them
viewing this through. As much truth is, I can fine, which has a lot of missing pieces in and through the film
tours of of a man. I knew the only thing I can say truthfully is I
don't know what really happened, and I don't think
ever gonna really know what happen Thomas
died more than eighty years ago. None of the whip,
since our alive still there's one
or a person, I'm interested in a Zella
Psmith she's, the white woman who told
please that Thomas Finch raped her. I have a little trouble tracking her after the case.
He died in the nineteen eightys with a different first name. I mean
and to locate her niece Dolores Sharp she
who to meet me at a library near her home in Peach Tree City south of Atlanta, like cancer.
Else, delors as cautious. We spend it,
full of our goin over documents before she's, ok, to talk on the record Dolores session
grew up around her and she saw her any time she went
for to her grandmother house, as Ella Psmith lived there she never married. When did you first hear this?
worry that I called you about. Oh I was
young girl when I was it and my aunt was raped by a black person at the house.
It'll, never really knew a lotta details and because it was taboo to talk about
You didn't bring it up and I don't know why I was mature in the sense that I felt like. Maybe it was something
I didn't need to plunder into she's.
As the assault was just too painful for her family. To talk about. Oh, I think it was me
maybe a major a thing it that permanently scarred d
art and the mind of the members that were closest to my aunt. I can hear the conviction and her voice when she talks about this family his
So I'm not surprised when Delors is disturbed when she reached the commission's conclusion that Thomas Finch was wrongfully accused. The implication is that
aunt lied about the assault. When you hear something, contrary to what you grew up, believing.
You might even go on a defence of that are you might take the attitude? Did she was just completely discarded the
What happened to her was completely irrelevant. I have a lot more questions for Dolores, but were interrupted. A peach tree said
librarian motions through the glass of the study room. Our time is up. Dolores asks me. We can reschedule but we'll go by and she never does agree to another meeting.
This isn't what I expected to hear from the other families. Somehow
After all, my research, I thought there might be consensus on how we should look at Thomas's caves, but there isn't a doctor, Catherine Meeks she's, a former african american studies.
Sesar, who now directs the Absalom Centre for racial healing in Atlanta. I realise that I,
Just so naive. Going into this, I was so supply
MR have disagreement about something that
happened eighty years ago, and I just wondered if we can agree about that- and I quote
we agree about now about the history would on agree about the written
of the United States. Professor Meeks
when seen in particular. As a point of shame, that's one piece of the history that we ve tried the hardest to ignore. We'll talk about slavery, we'll talk about Jim Crow, we'll talk about Rick
destruction, but we don't really want to talk about lynching. Many places enjoy
still, don't want to talk about lynchings. Even
though there are more lynchings here than in any other state except Mississippi. There are exceptions a couple of years.
I drove out to a small city called the Grange, where the police chief had called a commune,
be meeting two hundred people crowded into a Methodist church. Chiefly deck spoke about Austen Calloway
who was killed a nineteen forty one, a mob stormed the city jail. I sincerely regret and denounce the role. Are police department played in Austin Lynching, both through our action and our inaction, and for that I am profoundly sorry that should never have happened.
His comments received a standing ovation Andrew national attention, but in Thomas Finches case it does
see MIKE authorities have any plans to apologize. I let the city
Lana and the police department know about what I found
and emails even registered letters would they acknowledge
cases as lynching Atlantis, police chief Erika shields, wouldn't talk to me,
the Office of Marquis, shall ants bottoms only gave a short written statement. It says this,
He has no official record of Thomas's case, but there is
denying the Atlanta quote still where scars from the deep wounds inflicted during that dark chapter of history, and the surprises me to Atlanta is very different. Now the all white power structures gone its head blackmail for decades, and the police force is majority black, but when it comes to Thomas Finches case, they still have little to same ask Catherine Meeks about this. Well, I just think as denial of the history of think. If they don't want to take,
possibility. They may even be worried that if they say somethin, they will be admitting to some capability that
leave them in legal trouble. Meek says a dozen
matter. If the people in power have changed, the institutions still need to recognize what happened is not as important for me for somebody to ghost
and up in front of a microphone and say I'm sorry as it is for them to really be awake, to really understand and really do something but
you doing all about you probably know MA, saying: you're. Sorry, for now the most public acknowledgement of Thomas Finches death is still in another state. The place where I first came up
says name the memorial for lynching victims and Montgomery Alabama several months after we first met
join joy at the memorial she's on a civil rights to her with a couple of friends. We walked
and into the lower level of the main pavilion passed. A wall.
Streaming water, hundreds of steel columns shaped like coffins are hanging above us, their organised by the counties where the lynchings happens, foresight, Joyce's, moving quickly. She seems anxious. Almost
cited. We find the column that includes Atlanta, it's so high. Above us
Joyce strains to make up the names of the victims etched on the column. Can you see it and I soon there might be good, because I want to start crying
so my photographer. It takes a picture of Thomas's name and enlarges it on the screen of his camera, suggested. Recounter extends the bottom line.
She and her friends stare at the image. Then Joyce approaches
Amelia. Research must retain all my feelings. I never knew my uncle. I can't
As this alone, my family member.
The ones who are still alive and where grandkids she pauses like she's taking in what's around her
her uncles name among more than four thousand other african Americans who were launched in this country. I mean this is history
he's he's not forgotten
no, but it's important. We step outside the pavilion and see him
Their set of the columns lined up on the ground there duplicates
people behind the memorial want to send them to the counties where the lynchings happened, sort of like historical markers in Atlanta, there's a private group working to make that happen. It would finally bring Thomas french public recognition in the city where he was killed more than eighty years ago after spending all this time. On his case, I can't say how that effort will be received.
Stephanie Stokes is a reporter with public radio station W Ebby, so I was edited by David Louis
Situations editor at the U N Y, see and produced as a part of a collaboration with a pm reports. Are editors
were Michael Montgomery and for Corona virus coverage. Genji and with talking tell me, is that help from
feels Emily Hares and Elizabeth Chauvelin special thanks to Polly Striker of cake Ye D, kept radios, lick Miller, enjoying Griffith with the California Collaborative newsroom
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the meaning and aiming stuff are sealed.
Just a sharper than is our editor in chief executive producer is Kevin. Solving our theme using is by camaraderie, Lightning
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Transcript generated on 2020-03-31.