Tuesday, February 26, 1946

The Charlotte News

Tuesday, February 26, 1946


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that in Columbia, Tenn., a race riot had transpired in which ten persons had been wounded and 70 arrested, 68 of whom were black, charged with crimes ranging from assault with intent to commit murder to disorderly conduct. The trouble had begun the previous afternoon, according to the Sheriff, when a radio repairman was shoved through a plate glass window by a black woman and her son. Four of the town's eight policemen were then shot when they entered the black section, the "Mink Slide", to try to restore order. The other six wounded were shot during the course of the night. Eventually, a hundred highway patrolmen arrived on the scene and restored order.

A house to house search for weapons was in the process of being conducted by members of the State Highway Patrol and by deputized members of the State Guard, in both the white and black sections of Columbia from which police suspected the trouble to have emanated.

The State Safety Commissioner mounted a loudspeaker truck and proceeded hourly through "Mink Slide", saying, "I want you people to know that we are here to protect you as well as the people on the other side of town."

Someone fired a pistol at him from a small barbershop.

France declared the frontier with Franco's Spain closed, that Spain posed a danger to international security. The Consultative Assembly of France had the week before voted to protest the execution by the Franco Government of ten Spanish Republicans, convicted of treason for trying to reorganize the Republic by re-establishing the Socialist Party. France had sought in December British and American support in denouncing Franco.

The Soviet commandant at Mukden in Manchuria confirmed previous reports that the Russians were removing heavy industry built by the Japanese in Manchuria and transporting it to Russia, pursuant to an agreement of the Big Three reached at either Yalta or Potsdam. The heavy equipment, the commandant stated, was considered war booty. He implied that the Big Three agreement had been that the area should be stripped of heavy industry, and, since the Russians could not leave it, they had shipped some of it home. Whether that contingency was intended as part of the agreement was not made clear.

CIO president Philip Murray joined the chorus of labor dissent to President Truman's wage-price formula, saying that any return to wartime wage controls would be disastrous. William Green of AFL already had denounced the plan the previous week.

Meanwhile, the House Appropriations Committee voted to cut in half House-approved appropriations for OPA and the Civilian Production Administration for their operating budgets through June 30. It was predicted, however, that the Senate would restore the appropriations.

For the first time, it was reported that J. A. Krug, former chair of the War Production Board, might, as would be the case, be appointed to become the new Secretary of Interior to replace Harold Ickes following his stormy resignation. The announcement might come as early as the afternoon of this date.

Debate on the President's proposed housing plan to build 2.7 million homes in two years began in the House, with Representative Fred Smith of Ohio calling the plan "Communistic".

He obviously preferred to see veterans and their families living in quonset huts, garages and basements.

Ed Pauley was taking under advisement the suggestion from many in Congress, from both sides of the aisle, that he withdraw his name from nomination as Undersecretary of the Navy, provided the Senate Naval Committee would report that there was no basis for the charges against his character.

Which was a kind of funny way of saying if you will leave us alone, you corrupt louse, we will say that you're a good egg after all.

He said he was still there, despite the appeals to have him withdraw. He had demanded an apology from Senator Charles Tobey of New Hampshire for having smeared him with a false allegation of pre-war sales of his company's oil to Japan. Mr. Pauley said that long before the war began, he had ordered a halt to the supply of oil which might reach Japan.

According to Mayor William O'Dwyer, the citywide transit strike threatened for New York had been called off after it was agreed that a committee would be formed to study the issue of wages and labor relations in the transit industry.

A six-day old strike of 700 city workers in Houston had been settled after thousands of workers engaged in a general strike in support of the city workers' demands. The terms allowed workers to resume work without penalty and that a commission would then study the wage situation to establish comparable pay for similar work in private industry.

Hal Boyle, still in New Delhi, reports of the turbulent past of the city, that it had been rebuilt eight times following wars. Old Delhi had a thousand years of history behind it. It was crowded with a half-million Indian inhabitants, separated from the new section of the capital only by a grassy park. New Delhi was modern and pristine. Old Delhi was full of disease and poverty, flies and bazaars. The former was Little Lord Fauntleroy; the latter was Huck Finn.

The 161 Alaps native to Bikini Atoll are pictured, in preparation for being moved to a new home to make way for the atomic bomb tests set to begin in May, but which would be postponed until July.

On the editorial page, "Is It Ignorance or Contempt?" comments on a complaint by a member of the City School Board against the Police Department practice of holding incommunicado and without bond prisoners charged with public drunkenness. The member had sought release of a school janitor charged with drunkenness and found that he was not entitled to bail during a four hour period following arrest on such a charge. The four hour period was not imposed or authorized by law, but was an arbitrary procedure set up by the police.

The piece finds the procedure sensible if the arrestee were trying himself to post bond, but lacking sense when another responsible person was posting bond on his or her behalf. And it finds indefensible holding incommunicado any prisoner for any reason, blocking his opportunity for defense against false arrest. Each arrested person, moreover, it points out, had a right under the Constitution to summon a lawyer.

The practice, it concludes, demonstrated "shocking ignorance" by the Police Department of the requirements of the Constitution.

In its justification of the complaint against the practice, it might have added, in addition to the Fifth Amendment Due Process clause and the Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel at all "critical stages" of the criminal proceedings, the Eighth Amendment right to be free from "excessive bail".

It might be noted that some jurisdictions, including California, allow by statute, on a police discretionary basis, for a "civil commitment" to an alcohol rehabilitation facility of a person arrested for public drunkenness, for a specified number of hours, 72 in California, for the protection of the person. The commitment, however, is not a criminal proceeding and so not entitled to all of the protections afforded such a matter. Nor can the arrest become a criminal proceeding if that procedure is followed. North Carolina repealed its public drunkenness laws in the 1970's, now prosecuted via "disorderly conduct", requiring more than a showing of being a danger to one's self or others, the standard in California. North Carolina requires, among other possible bases, actual violence or abusive language designed to incite violence before the misdemeanor can be charged.

Such laws have historically run into a host of difficulties constitutionally as being unduly vague or overbroad, embracing constitutionally protected conduct, because of the ability of police to use such statutes for improper purposes in particular circumstances, to harass rather to serve and protect, because of the low level of punishment and the purely subjective basis for arrest.

The editorial might have added that the Columbia, Tenn., riot case reported on the front page, with its house to house blanket search for weapons, smacks of shredding of the Fourth Amendment. Such a blanket procedure, without particular probable cause or warrant based on probable cause, for a search of particular houses and particular locations within those houses or particular persons, based on specific, articulable facts justifying the search, was plainly a police-state action worthy of Argentina, without any justification under the Constitution, riot or no riot.

For, after all, if the police wanted to do a blanket search of a neighborhood, and could legally do so only under riot conditions, then the simple formula would be for the police to incite a circumstance leading to a riot—perhaps the situation in fact in Columbia.

A riot does not probable cause make for blanket searches and detentions or suspension of the Fourth Amendment. The only exceptions recognized are in the cases of entry to property to prevent its destruction or protect human life, such as during a fire, or in hot pursuit of particular suspects in a crime who have not reached a place of safe harbor, that is inside their residence. But searches pursuant to those exceptions still cannot be undertaken without a warrant or probable cause, except for weapons within the immediate reach of the arrestee for the protection of the officer.

"Old 42 Moves Up to 14th" comments on North Carolina exceeding its normal 42nd position among the states in most categories during the drive for the American Cancer Society, in which the state showed up 14th with a contribution of over $100,000 out of the four million collected nationally. Half of the contribution would be spent within the state.

It might have added that North Carolina produced the number one cancer causing agent and produced more of it than any other state in the union, still the case. So, by justice, it ought to have been the number one contributor, per capita at least, to the fund. But in 1946, they did not know quite so much, or at least hid it from themselves, re the dangers of cigarette smoking, as would continue to be the case until the Surgeon General's Report of 1964 stated a definite causal connection between cigarettes and cancer, resulting in 1965 in the mandatory warnings on cigarette packs.

"Two Handy Little Journals" finds the current party lines troubling, with a bloc of liberal Republicans regularly voting with the President and a bloc of conservative Democrats regularly opposing his programs.

The Democrat was a publication of the DNC which voiced official party policy. The Republican News was its counterpart published by the RNC. The current issue of the former publication had as its headline, "'Let the Rich Rule' Is GOP Cry". In contrast, the latter publication had the headlines "Leftward Ho", "America Turns to Honest Abe", and "Jolly George and Oily Ed", anent George Allen and Ed Pauley.

The Democrat viewed the contest of the day to be between "arch-conservatism and human progress", while the Republican publication saw it as "radicalism, regimentation, all-powerful bureaucracy, class exploitation, deficit spending and machine politics as against our belief in American freedom for the individual under just laws, fairly administered for all, preservation of local home rule, efficiency and pay-as-you-go economy on Government and the protection of the American way of life against either Fascist or Communist trends".

The piece thus finds party orthodoxy being preserved at the respective party headquarters, no matter the trends in Congress. But neither publication provided a concrete program for achieving peace and prosperity. Each professed that the other party had no program.

In the Atomic Age or the Century of the Common Man, it suggests, the statesman needed more than dedication to liberal or conservative principles, rather also a vision as to where he wished to go and how to get there. Neither party had "the faintest idea".

Drew Pearson apologizes for some of his February 22 column regarding George Allen, newly confirmed as RFC chairman, and the participation of an insurance company, of which Mr. Allen was made vice-president in 1938 while Federal investigation was ongoing, in a $330,000 bribe paid to Tom Pendergast for which the latter went to prison and the insurance company executives went free.

He corrects his errors and the "injustice" to the "delightful" Mr. Allen. It was not simply the case. He had also been vice-president of three other insurance companies involved in the scandal, "one of the worst pieces of graft in the history of American insurance." Each of those had also hired Mr. Allen during the Federal Government investigation into the scandal in 1938, and all had done so to acquire his contacts with high Washington officials, extending into the White House. The Government case was eventually settled and none of the other company executives went to prison either.

"The column takes this opportunity to rectify its previous slight to Mr. Allen's prowess as the champion American holder of vice-presidencies and directorships—now a director of the RFC."

He notes that in the past the RFC had loaned millions to insurance companies, as well as other companies, such as railroads, paying huge premiums to insurance companies. Meanwhile, Mr. Allen intended to maintain some of his corporate positions while also serving the Government.

He next states, unapologetically, that when Secretary of Commerce Henry Wallace stated that the school children of America were worse fed that Iowa hogs, he likely did not know that Congress had set aside half of a 15 million dollar appropriation for a nationwide school lunch program so that a Federal building in Nashville could be constructed, an act of patronage for the King of Patronage, Senator Kenneth McKellar of Tennessee, chair of the Appropriations Committee. Some in Congress had described the latter project as unnecessary, especially given its cost of nearly six million dollars, one saying that he liked his pork cooked, "not raw".

The column next relates that the three able men of the Government fact-finding board which recommended a 16-cent pay increase for meatpacking workers, while stating that only 5 cents of it could be absorbed by the meatpackers without a price increase, might have more carefully examined the newspapers. In December, it had been reported that a number of smaller meatpackers had signed a contract with both AFL and CIO unions for a 15 cents per hour wage increase without any condition regarding increased prices. Swift had agreed to a ten cents per hour increase.

But for some reason, the fact-finders found it necessary that 11 cents of their recommended increase should be borne by the consumer.

Marquis Childs discusses the bill passed by the House to put the brakes on James Petrillo's despotic rule of the music industry with his Musicians Union and its demand for silence on the radio and in live performances unless the sound was delivered by union members. The final straw had come when he refused access to the radio by programs broadcast from foreign countries.

Mr. Childs views the action as overdue, that Mr. Petrillo had become a menace by having obtained through the years too much power. The most striking aspect of the process was that liberals had joined conservatives in voting for the bill. Only 43 House members voted against it. Even the most dedicated supporters of labor were calling for voluntary reforms from within the unions, such as purging of racketeers from the leadership and becoming democratic.

The anti-Petrillo bill was one straw in the wind rising in gale force to curb labor. Whether the storm would spread would be up to labor and whether they undertook to clean their own houses.

A letter writer assails the "ostentatious display of ignorance" by the letter written the previous week attacking the Catholic Church as being totalitarian and hating democracy. He stresses that Church and State had to remain separate, that many Catholics, Protestants, and Jews served the Government without bringing their religious doctrine into the governing process. And so he chastises the writer for seeking to make religion a political issue.

In fairness to the previous writer, it has to be noted that he was commenting on the political stands taken through the years since 1929 by the Vatican, historical fact, not seeking to make religion political, even if he overstated the case and left out the crucial fact that the Vatican had renounced Nazism and Fascism at the onset of the war.

Another letter likewise finds the previous letter without sense and invites the writer to meet with her and assess the many Catholic veterans of the war who fought and died to prevent totalitarian forces from controlling the world. She challenges the writer to "come up and see me sometime."

The editors note that the latter letter had been mailed from Mercy Hospital in Charlotte.

A third letter, from the acting president of Clinton Junior College, voices appreciation for The News editorial column, specifically offering compliment to "Beyond the Color Line"—actually from the Winston-Salem Journal, as re-printed February 20—and "The Coroner's Inquest", apparently referring to the editorial of the same date bearing a slightly different title.

A fourth letter compliments the editorials regarding the abattoir situation and controlled sale of liquor raising revenue for the community, wishes to nominate the writer for Governor.

The editors note that in both cases, it was former Associate Editor Burke Davis, "The People's Platform Choice", and they would pass along to him the nomination.

A fifth letter from a "Wet Reader" also gives support to the Burke Davis article on liquor. He comments that the local bootleggers were getting lazy, too lazy to make much more money, as evidenced by the fact that their Cadillacs were equipped with radios connected to the vacuum hose of the vehicle's distributor so that the radio volume increased as the speed increased. They also had push-button antennas operating on the same principle.

Not only would A.B.C. stores raise revenue, he continues, it would also help local business by cutting the cost of liquor and by bringing in trade from surrounding counties.

Samuel Grafton comments that small differences between the Americans and Russians appeared insuperable when, as at present, relations turned sour between the two countries, the opposite occurring when relations were congenial. Now, the Russians lectured Americans on Marxian dogma, while Washington officials whispered of concern regarding the activities of American Communists, usually ignored as crackpots.

Thus, as the Russians warned of danger of war and thus armed themselves against it, America observed that the Russians were arming themselves and so talked of the danger of war. Russia paid little attention to the British in Greece until relations with the West had deteriorated since V-J Day. No longer could Russia depend on the Big Three alliance as a means of security, was filling the void with its moves in Eastern Europe. Russia regretted the loss of the Grand Alliance more than had the West.

Russia did not regard the parliamentary aspects of the U. N. as a substitute for the old coalition. It was easier for Russia to conceive "of a future built neither on close friendship nor on hostility, but on a cool, ambiguous, neutral, former something-in-between."

That British Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin had suggested extension of the twenty-year neutrality treaty with Russia to fifty years left some hope that some form of coalition might be restored. But the situation was not static, rather mutable, and "the return home is oddly longer than the journey out: there are new peaks to climb, and roughnesses in the road which we did not notice on the trip away."

"Everything changes, or at least looks different, as if the light had changed."

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