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Today In History

Today In History: Exactly 77 Years Ago Today, 14-Year-Old Black American, George Stinney Was Put To Death For A Crime He Did Not Commit, Only To Be Exonerated 70 Years Later

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On June 16, 1944, George Stinney Jr., a ninety-pound, black, fourteen-year-old boy, was executed in the electric chair in Columbia, South Carolina. Three months earlier, on March 24, George and his sister were playing in their yard when two young white girls briefly approached and asked where they could find flowers.

Hours later, the girls failed to return home and a search party was organized to find them. George joined the search party and casually mentioned to a bystander that he had seen the girls earlier. The following morning, their dead bodies were found in a shallow ditch.

George was immediately arrested for the murders and subjected to hours of interrogation without his parents or an attorney. The sheriff later claimed that George confessed to the murders, though no written or signed statement was presented. George’s father was fired from his job and his family forced to flee amidst threats on their lives. On March 26, a mob attempted to lynch George but he had already been moved to an out-of-town jail.

On April 24, George Stinney faced a sham trial virtually alone. No African Americans were allowed inside the courthouse and his court-appointed attorney, a tax lawyer with political aspirations, failed to call a single witness. The prosecution presented the sheriff’s testimony regarding George’s alleged confession as the only evidence of his guilt.

George was immediately arrested for the murders and subjected to hours of interrogation without his parents or an attorney. The sheriff later claimed that George confessed to the murders, though no written or signed statement was presented. George’s father was fired from his job and his family forced to flee amidst threats on their lives. On March 26, a mob attempted to lynch George but he had already been moved to an out-of-town jail.

On April 24, George Stinney faced a sham trial virtually alone. No African Americans were allowed inside the courthouse and his court-appointed attorney, a tax lawyer with political aspirations, failed to call a single witness. The prosecution presented the sheriff’s testimony regarding George’s alleged confession as the only evidence of his guilt.

An all-white jury deliberated for ten minutes before convicting George Stinney of rape and murder, and the judge promptly sentenced the fourteen-year-old to death. Despite appeals from black advocacy groups, Governor Olin Johnston refused to intervene. George Stinney remains the youngest person executed in the United States in the twentieth century.

Seventy years later, a South Carolina judge held a two-day hearing, which included testimony from three of George’s surviving siblings, members of the search party, and several experts. The state argued at the hearing that — despite all the unfairness in this case, George’s conviction should stand.

The trial court disagreed and vacated the conviction, finding that George Stinney was fundamentally deprived of due process throughout the proceedings against him, that the alleged confession “simply cannot be said to be known and voluntary,” that the court-appointed attorney “did little to nothing” to defend George, and that his representation was “the essence of being ineffective.” The judge concluded: “I can think of no greater injustice.”

Source: GhanaFeed.Com

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Today In History

Today In History: Exactly 42 Years Ago Today, The June 4th Uprising Occurred

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Exactly 42 years ago on June 4th, 1979, Ghana’s history was to be changed forever as a massive revolution occurred, freeing Jerry John Rawlings from a death sentence and changing the dynamics of Ghanaian politics quite significantly.

Earlier on May 15th, 1979, Rawlings had led a group of junior army officers in an attempted overthrow of the government of the Supreme Military Council led by General FWK Akuffo.

Rawlings and his co-conspirators were arrested and imprisoned after their mutiny was quashed through the very instrumental efforts of the army commander, Major-General Odartey Wellington.

What was supposed to be a trial of Rawlings turned into a counter trial, after he (Rawlings) accused the government of massive corruption, insensitivity, and greed, thereby winning the hearts and minds of the junior soldiers and the populace, who were fed up with the bad governance.

On the night of June 3, 1979, a group of junior officers including Major Boakye Djan and enlisted personnel of the Fifth Battalion and the Reconnaissance Regiment in Burma Camp staged a bloody coup and freed Rawlings.

This uprising was again nearly quashed by the fine army commander, Major-General Odartey Wellington, who with his ADC alone, entered an armored car and exchanged fire with the mutineers for three continuous hours.

When he ran out of cartridges, he dashed to the Nima Police Station to surrender. Unfortunately, he was killed on the spot by military officers immediately he came out of the armoured truck, marking the actual beginning of the uprising.

After the incident, all military installations were searched and senior military officers who were on the side of the Supreme Military Council (SMC II) were killed. It was on the same day that Col. Aninful, the president of the military tribunal that tried Rawlings and the junior officers on 15th May was killed. His wife and children who were also in the same room were shot. Many sympathizers of the previous government fled the country to seek asylum elsewhere.

The soldiers also rounded up three former heads of state; General F. K Akuffo, Ignatious Kutu Acheampong, and Afrifa for trial. They were subsequently executed by firing squad.

Source: GhanaFeed.Com

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Today In History

Today In History: Exactly 6 Years Ago Today, Ghana Witnessed One Of Its Most Devastating Tragedies – The June 3rd Disaster

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On June 3, 2015, Ghana woke up to one of its worst natural disasters. A day described as the ‘saddest’ in its history.

What started the night before as a heavy downpour at the center of the country’s capital, the Kwame Nkrumah Circle, was aggravated after a nearby fuel station exploded in the downpour, leaving an estimated 154 Ghanaians lifeless whiles scores also sustained varying degrees of burns and injuries.

People had gathered at the state-owned Goil fuel station to seek shelter from the heavy rains when the station exploded killing motorists, workers on duty at the station, and the many passers-by who were hoping to go home after the rains.

Whiles the rain was seen as a natural occurrence, the fire which worsened the situation was later said to have been caused by a cigarette smoker who dropped a lighted stub into water that had oil floating on top of it, myjoyonline.com reported in August 2015.

Floods in Ghana’s capital, especially in the month of June is not a new phenomenon. Actually the first documented flood in the same location was on June 3rd, 1959, exactly 56 years before this sad incidence.

Sadly, it appears no serious measures have been put in place to avert any such future occurrences. Floods continue to be a regular occurrence, and governments continue to be irresponsible. The vicious cycle of governments in power only being competent at spending money on elections, and opposition parties being petty and empty, still continues unabated.

Source: GhanaFeed.Com

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Today In History

Today In History: Exactly 54 Years Ago Today, The Man Who Engineered Nkrumah’s Overthrow, Kotoka is Killed In An Abortive Coup

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On April 17, 1967, Major General Emmanuel Kwasi Kotoka who was a member of the ruling National Liberation Council (NLC) which came to power in Ghana in a military coup d’état on 24 February 1966 was killed in an abortive coup attempt involving junior officers, in an operation which was code-named “Guitar boy”.

The abortive coup against the NLC was instigated by three junior officers of the Ghana Armed Forces; Lt. Samuel Arthur, Lt. Moses Yeboah and 2nd Lt. Osei-Poku. With the support of several senior officers, including Warrant Officer George Ofosu, and 119 soldiers of the 2nd Recce (Reconnaissance) Regiment.

The coup failed, however, Ghanaians were soon to learn, to their shock, a few hours later that Maj. Gen. Emmanuel Kwasi Kotoka had been captured in the night, by the men and murdered in cold blood at the then Accra International Airport which today has been named Kotoka International Airport in his memory.

The operation was named “Guitar Boy”, after a popular song by Nigerian musician Victor Uwaifo, in which the West African water goddess, the “Mami Wata”, had given him a guitar and asked him to make good music. After the attempted coup, “Guitar Boy” was banned by the NLC from radio airplay in Ghana.

For their role in the deaths, Yeboah and Arthur were executed by firing squad at a military range near Labadi Beach. The other conspirator, Osei-Poku, received a thirty-year prison sentence, and the other members of the regiment also received prison terms.

It must be noted that Maj. Gen. Kotoka, together with General Akwasi Amankwa Afrifa, with active support from the Police, removed Dr Kwame Nkrumah from office while he was on a working visit to Hanoi, in an operation codenamed “Operation Cold Chop”.

In 1969, the Accra International Airport was renamed Kotoka International Airport in memory of the late Lt. General E.K. Kotoka.

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