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March 10, 1951 - Image 6

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1951-03-10

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Groups Rally To Aid McGee
As Execution Date Nears

o1uIrib ous e

F _.



* * * *

EDITOR'S NOTE-Willie McGee, a
Mississippi Negro, faces electrocution
this month, convicted of criminally
attacking a white woman. The fol-
lowing interpretative article summar-
izes the history of the case and the
controversy surrounding it.)
The case of Willie McGee, in-
cluding three Missouri court trials
and a series of appeals, is being
used by various groups to bring
dramatic focus to racial conditions
in the South.
* * *
LED BY the Civil Rights Con-
gress, these groups-including the
"Committee to Save Willie Mc-
Gee" recently organized on this
campus - have brought the
doomed Mississippi .Negro's trial
Into national prominence.
If it weren't for pressure from
the Civil Rights Congress, Mc-
Gee would undoubtedly now be
Moving into the case in full
force last July, the Congress agi-
tated for and got an eleventh-

hour stay of execution for the
condemned man.
* * *
THE CONGRESS, which has
been called a Communist-front
organization by the Department
of Justice, has since made exten-
sive attempts to secure a reversal
of McGee's conviction. It has
acted both through the courts and
on the level of popular appeal.
Unless it succeeds, McGee
will be electrocuted March 20.
Attempts are being made to
raise doubts as to whether Mc-
Gee was actually guilty. But the
question of his guilt is no more
controversial than the issue of
whether his punishment reflects
true justice.
* * *
THE CIVIL Rights Congress
notes that only Negroes get the
death penalty for rape in Missis-
sippi, while white men invariably
get prison sentences or less. This
practice, the Congress asserts, is
"unequal justice."
In such usage of the word

am- - r

with Harry Reed

With prices spiralling over the'
past years, it's interesting 'to see
how the amount of mofhey on give-
away shows has risen, who gives
what, and to whom.
Most people can still remember
when "The $64 question," was a
common expression. This was lifted
from "Take It Or Leave It" which
began in 1941. The term is still in
Czech Exile
To Continue
Studies Here
Anti-Communist forces at the
University have recently added one
ardent supporter to their ranks.
He is Milos Jilich, of Czecho-
slovakia, a man who has been
pursued by Communist authorities
for three years.
A former student at the Uni-
versity of Commerce in Prague,
Jilich was expelled from school in
1948 because of his anti-Commu-
nist activities and forced to flee
from the country.
s . s s
AFTER many months of exile
and numerous arrests, he finally'
arrived in Ann Arbor yesterday to
complete his interrupted studies in
business administration.

'common use, but $64 dollars lost its
significance long ago.
* * *
"Break the Bank," "Give and
Take," and "You Bet Your Life"
pasing out sums up in the thou-
sands, it's a wonder anyone ever
listens to the $64 giveaways.
The large amount given on
"You Bet Your Life" is really an
award for undergoing the ques-
tioning and sly comments of the
show's star, Groucho Marx.
There's never been a contestant
on his show yet that came out
better than second best on the
exchange of gags.
Interviewing a beedkeeper re-
cently, Groucho asked him how
many bees he had. The man inno-
cently claimed 800 colonies. "800
colonies - " Groucho snapped,
"George Washington only had 13
colonies, and he was the father of
our country."
* * *
ON TV SHOW "Break the Bank"
one contestant parlayed his know-
ledge of "The Rime of the Ancient
Mariner" into a cool $5,000 by say-
ing the Mariner killed the alba-
tross with a crossbow. This same
show paid the same amount to
another winner the same week.
Just to be different, which pays
well in some fields, a show called
"Live Like a Millionaire" pays off
with the interest on a million dol-
lars for one week. The interest,
however, only amounts to about
$384, which is pretty small fodder
to live like a millionaire.

"justice," the Congress does not
appear to refer to justice in a
legal sense.
McGee has been duly convicted
in a way compatible with the
American judicial structure, and
even the U.S. Supreme Court has
not seen fit to review the case or
the manner in which it was tried.
* * *
IN DECEMBER, 1945, McGee
was convicted of raping a white
housewife in Laurel, Mississippi.
McGee, a truck driver, admitted
guilt several times during the pro-
The conviction in the first trial
was set aside by the Mississippi
State Supreme Court on the
grounds that mob intimidation in
the trial, held in the county of
the crime, was prejudicial to the
* * *
THE CASE was then tried in a
different county, by a different
judge and jury. Again it resulted
in conviction. This decision was
also set aside, this time on the
basis of evidence that Negroes had
been excluded froom the lists of
possible grand jury members. The
decision in effect invalidated the
whole trial and proceedings were
started anew.
Another grand ju r y was
drawn up, including three Ne-
groes. This body indicted Mc-
Gee, a third trial was held, and
he was once more convicted.
This time, the conviction was
upheld by the Mississippi Supreme
Court. The U. S. Supreme Court
denied certiorari, which means the
Court refused to review the case,
but did not decide on its merits.
McGEE was sentenced to die in
the state's portable electric chair
June 27.
Two days before his scheduled
death, six, non-Southern repre-
sentatives. of the Civil Rights
Congress dramatically arrived
at the state capital of Jackson
in a move to stay the execution.
They appealed to the states
governor, Fielding L. Wright, and
to Harvey McGehee, chief jus-
tice of the state's Supreme Court.
* * *
THE CONGRESS'S representa-
tives contended that McGee had
been convicted on perjured testi-
mony, and that his own confession
had been obtained through tor-
The climax came when Justice
Harold H. Burton, of the U. S. Su-
preme Court granted a last mm-
ute stay of execution in order to
give McGee's lawyers more time
to prepare further appeal.
This appeal also was subse-
quently turned down by the U. S.
Supreme Court.
Now the Civil Rights Congress
is seeking a pardon for McGee by
Gov. Wright, or action on the
part of President Truman under
Federal Civil Rights legislation.

Old County
In Disrean'r
fi.._ Crarnped. Offices
r H amperWork
The ancient Washtenaw County
Building is slowly, surely falling
<: down around the heads of county
Its exterior shape is one of semi-
ruin, and although parts of the
interior have been cleaned-up and
refinished, the building still re-
mains a dangerous fire trap.
*. * *
ENTERING T H E antiquated
structure from the north side, citi-
zens risk breaking a leg on steps
that are smashed and unrepaired.
Huge unpainted doors blend in
with the rest of the red brick and
concrete building that is slowly
crumbling away.
r #.Inside, an unstable stairway-it
sounds like a Hallowe'en noise-
maker if tromped on hard enough
?' -leads to a basement that is filled
with county departments cubby-
holed into wall board partitioned
ie The first and second floors,
ter where most of the remodeling has
Ily been done, are in fair condition
although the tile flooring- on the
first is loose and unsteady.
In the worst condition of all is
the third story. This level has
been condemned for office use,.
but is still used as a store room.
Scattered around the rooms are
discarded books, paper and fur-
niture that make this section of



RED BRICK AND CONCRETE-This is the east side of the Was.h-
tenaw County Building It is one of the worst aspects on the ex-
terior of the ancient structure with peeling concrete, smashed
windows and blocked off stairway. The door is kept closed because

a county department has its office in the hallway on the oth
side. What appears to be wild weeds in the foreground is actua
a hedge. The grass is well kept.

AS IT ONCE WAS-After the County Brilding was first built in
1877, it may have looked something like this. Since then, how-
ever, the clock tower has been taien down. and the building has
fallen into disrepair.

ON THE INSIDE-Unused furniture stored on the condemned
third floor would make good kindling if a fire should break out.
The whole building has been condemned as a fire hazard by the
state fire marshall.

When he was expelled from
the University at Prague, Jilich
had only 19 days to complete
before graduation. The Prague
University Communist Action
Committee, however, thought he
would be better off in the hands
of the authorities, and recom-
mended his expulsion.
He was arrested shortly after his
release from school.
The cause of his arrest was two-
fold. Jilich was one of the leaders
of a large student demonstration
against Communism. This demon-
stration, composed of several thou-
sand students went to President
Benes with a plea for democracy.
The only tangible results of this
event were a riot and many ar-
* * *
JILICH was also a member of
the National Union of Cxech Stu-
dents, an organization working
against Communism.
After a daring escape from the
authorities, Jilich went to Eng-
land where he remained for two
years while waiting for a visa to
the United States. While there
he was president of the Czech
students in Great Britain.
Jilich has not communicated
with his family since he left
Czechoslovakia. It would endanger
them to receive any letters from
him, he explained.
* * *
THE NEW 'U' student is very
enthusiastic over his life in Amer-
ica. "As soon as I stepped off the
boat my outlook changed," he said.
"In general I like Americans bet-
ter than Europeans," he added.
After his first day on the cam-
pus, Jilich was amazed at the size
of the University. "No European
school has such complex build-
ings," he said.
After graduation Jilich plans to
join the American army. "I feel I]
can fight Communism most effec-
tively as a member of the armed
forces," he decltred.

Deadly Elm Tree Disease
Moving Towards Campus
I oVI 10W PGS mpNS




A fatal elm tree disease, slowly
moving north from the Ohio bor-
der, may threaten to 'kill seven
out of every ten trees on campus,
according to Sam Wylie, Univer-
sity grounds superintendent.
The disease, known as Dutch
Elm Blight, gets a foothold in the
deadwood of elms. It then spreads
throughout the tree, eventually
killing it.
* * *a
WYLIE SAID that a crew of

USAF Starts
New Program
For Enlistees
Prospective U.S. Air Force avia-
tion cadets will be enlisted in the
USAF before assignment to cadet
training under a new policy an-
nounced yesterday by the U.S. Air
The change, effective immedi-
ately, requires enlistment for a
four year period in the grade of
private, unless the individual has
acquired specialized skills which,
under existing Air Force regula-
tions, qualify him for enlistment
in a higher grade.
Regardless of the grade at which
he enlists, the individual will be
appointed an aviation cadet when
he enters into flying training.
The new policy does not affect
cadets who complete pilot or navi-
gator training, since previous pol-
icy requires that graduates agree
to serve a minimum of three years

trimmers is now in the process of
pruning all elm trees on University
grounds in an attempt to prevent
the blight in this area.
"Reports from the U.S. For-
estry Department places the
front of the diseased area near
Toledo, though we have recently
heard of cases of the blight near
Detroit," Wylie said.
Three years ago the disease
killed almost all the elm trees in
"At present we are not planting
any more elms on campus," he
said. "And once an elm begins to
rot we don't try to save it unless
it has historical value. It's easier
and less expensive to plant new
trees than attempt to patch up the
old ones."
Wylie explained that the
grounds department is slowly re-
placing the old elms with syca-
mores, ashes and lindens.
Camping Cl'ub
To Meet T'oday
The Michigan Camping Associa-
tion will hold an all day meeting
on campus today, the theme of
which will be "The Impact of the
Present Emergency on Camping
and Campers."
The meeting will 4ge conducted
entirely in Rm. 3RS of the Union,'
except for luncheon which will be
served at 12:30 p.m. in the Union
The morning session, scheduled
to start at 9:30 a.m., will be taken
up with two panel discussions and

Story by
Vernon Emerson
Pictures by
Burt Sapowitch

Some courthouse observers feel
that a fire could be contained in
one area of the building easily.
Most of the rooms on the lower
floors are equipped with fire doors,
and the walls are of solid brick
Ann Arbor Fire Chief, Ben
Zahn isn't so sure that a fire
wouldn't level the whole build-
ing, however. "The ,state fire
marshal condemned the place as
a fire hazard about 15 years
ago," he noted. But he feels if
caution is used the old court
house may avoid fire. It has
ever since it was build in 1877.
Zahn said that his department
has been breathing easier about
the safety of the antique since the
wooden clock tower that adorned
the top of the edifice was hauled
down a couple of years ago.
Old timers around the county of-
f ices don't miss the domed super-
structure much either. "It never
was too stable-just rotted away
I guess" one remarked. "In fact
it got so wobbly that the clock
could never be kept in running or-
FIRE HAZARDS are the biggest
complaints that workers in the
County Building have e v e n
though one of them said that most
employes are resigned to the con-
dition of the place.
Probate Judge Jay H. 'Payne
pointed out that his office has on
file records of each of the 43,960
trials that have taken place in the
Probate Court since it opened in
April, 1837.
It was the same story in the
county clerk's and treasurer's of-
County treasurer W. F. Verner
said that fire proof vaults are
needed to protect unreplaceable
Judge Payne also complained
that cramped facilities hamper
the proper functioning of his of-
fice. He has been forced to
move the juvenile division of the
court to another building.
Mrs. Louella Smith, county clerk,
agreed with Judge Payne that
more space is needed. "There just
isn't room for our department to
efficiently handle all the business
of a fast growing county such as-
AND VERNER was disgusted
with the ancient heating system,
the unfinished paint job in his of-
f ice (an inmate of the county
jail who did the walls refused to
paint the°high ceiling) and un-
screened windows. "Sometimes, if
the wvindows are left open, we may
have pigeons visiting us in the
Local citizens seemed pretty
much against the old building also.
They generally described it as a
terrible eyesore that should be
torn down.
But one of them summed up
what most of them must have
felt when they voted on financ-
ing a new County Building last
spring: "We ought to have a
new one, but I sure don't want





FIRE TRAP-This pile of discarded paper and books could be a good starting place for a fire that
might race throughout the antique courthouse once begun. The third floor, where this picture was
taken, has abundant fire fighting equipment. But a fire could cut the extinguishers off from reach
before anyone would be able to climb the wooden stairs.





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