March 10, 2008

Who was Leo Frank?

Why is the state of Georgia placing a historical marker at the site of the Leo Frank lynching?

From the Georgia state website:

Senate Resolution 1066

By: Senators Hill of the 32nd, Thompson of the 33rd, Rogers of the 21st, Stoner of the 6th and Wiles of the 37th

A RESOLUTION

Commemorating March 7, 2008, as the date of the placement of a Georgia historical marker at the site of the Leo Frank lynching and commending the organizations participating in the dedication of the historical marker; and for other purposes.

WHEREAS, Mr. Leo Frank, superintendent of the National Pencil Company in Atlanta, was charged with the April 26, 1913, murder of 13-year-old Mary Phagan, an employee of the factory; and he was convicted and sentenced to death by an Atlanta court while angry mobs gathered around the courthouse chanting anti-Semitic slogans and calling for his death; and

WHEREAS, on June 21, 1915, Georgia Governor John Slaton commuted Frank's death sentence to life imprisonment because the Governor concluded that the evidence did not support a conviction; and on July 18, 1915, Mr. Frank was relocated to the state prison in Milledgeville to serve the remainder of his sentence; and

WHEREAS, on August 17, 1915, Mr. Frank was roused from his prison bed by a mob from outside the prison and was driven 75 miles to Marietta, Georgia, where he was lynched at a site now identified as 1200 Roswell Road in Marietta; and

WHEREAS, a number of statements by others involved in the Mary Phagan case suggest that Mr. Frank was innocent of the crime; and in 1986, with support from Governor Joe Frank Harris, and through the efforts of attorneys associated with the Anti-Defamation League, the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles granted Leo Frank a posthumous pardon based on the state's inability to secure his safety while he was in state custody; and

WHEREAS, the Frank case propelled the Anti-Defamation League, in existence only two years at the time of the hanging, to international prominence; and the case became inextricably linked to the ADL's mission to fight bigotry against Jews and to secure justice and fair treatment for all; and

WHEREAS, in Georgia, the Anti-Defamation League is working to end the terrible toll of hatred through its "No Place for Hate" anti-bullying program, now operating in more than 160 Georgia public, private, and parochial schools in grades K through 12; and

WHEREAS, on March 7, 2008, the Georgia Historical Society, the Jewish American Society for Historical Preservation, the Anti-Defamation League, and Cobb County synagogues Congregation Kol Emeth and Congregation Etz Chaim will officially dedicate a state historical marker at the site of the lynching as a reminder of the ravages of bigotry.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE SENATE that this body hereby commemorates March 7, 2008, as the date of the placement of a Georgia historical marker at the site of the Leo Frank lynching and commends and extends best wishes to the above-named organizations participating in the dedication of the historical marker.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Secretary of the Senate is authorized and directed to transmit an appropriate copy of this resolution to each of the above-named organizations.