JUSTICE DELAYED, JUSTICE DENIED
(Week of October 12, 2009)
Sitting in my chambers on the third floor of our historic courthouse I am eye level with Lady Liberty who leads the soldiers and sailors who are eternally vigilant in the cause of justice.
The four servicemen face the corners of the compass ever alert to threats against freedom. The Lady and the guardians of our liberties do not quake from the thunder nor shiver from the cold rain. They represent what is best in us, unflinching fortitude in the battle for equality.
But it is the one hundred and thirty-first anniversary of our most shameful episode and the impressive memorial to honor and sacrifice is mocked by the lack of even the most basic recognition of the deaths of Daniel Harrison, Sr., William Chambers, Jim Good, Edward Warner and Jeff Hopkins.
Societies develop legal systems and build courthouses to protect individuals from other individuals, to protect individuals from governmental tyranny and to protect individuals from mobs.
During the week of October 7-12, 1878, a mob comprised of “two to three hundred of Posey County’s best men” engaged in a reign of terror against our Negro minority. This was not a random one-time failure, but an organized military type of operation to circumvent the law.
It was encouraged by the newspapers and sanctioned by the leaders in the legal and political communities. There has never been any atonement for the murders that were committed on the campus of our seat of justice. Nor has there ever been any attempt at reparations to the Negro families who were driven from their properties on threat of death.
At a minimum, the wrongs should be acknowledged and the names of the victims commemorated. A logical place to start would be an attempt to discover the remains of Daniel Harrison, Sr., who was “butchered like a hog and his body parts thrown into the jailhouse privy”. As the jail was then on the southeast side of the courthouse campus, he may still be there awaiting justice.