1998 James Byrd Jr. is killed by white supremacists


June 7, 1998: James Byrd, Jr., of Texas is killed when white supremacists drag him behind a pickup truck along an asphalt pavement.

James Byrd, Jr. was an African-American who was murdered by three men, of whom at least two were white supremacists, in Jasper, Texas, on June 7, 1998. Shawn Berry, Lawrence Russell Brewer, and John King dragged Byrd behind a pick-up truck along an asphalt road. Byrd, who remained conscious throughout most of the ordeal, was killed when his body hit the edge of a culvert, severing his right arm and head.

The murderers drove on for another mile before dumping his torso in front of an African-American cemetery in Jasper. Byrd’s lynching-by-dragging gave impetus to passage of a Texas hate crimes law. It later led to the federal Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, commonly known as the Matthew Shepard Act, which passed on October 22, 2009, and which President Barack Obama signed into law on October 28, 2009.

THE MURDER:
On June 7, 1998, Byrd, age 49, accepted a ride from Shawn Berry (age 24), Lawrence Russell Brewer (age 31) and John King (age 23). Berry, who was driving, was acquainted with Byrd from around town. Instead of taking Byrd home, the three men took Byrd to a remote county road out of town, beat him severely, urinated on him and chained him by his ankles to their pickup truck before dragging him for three miles. Brewer later claimed that Byrd’s throat had been slashed by Berry before he was dragged. However, forensic evidence suggests that Byrd had been attempting to keep his head up while being dragged, and an autopsy suggested that Byrd was alive during much of the dragging. Byrd died after his right arm and head were severed after his body hit a culvert. Byrd’s brain and skull were found intact, further suggesting he maintained consciousness while being dragged.

For the complete article to to… Black Then

Source: blackthen.com

United States Supreme Court – GRISWOLD v. CONNECTICUT(1965) Decision


GRISWOLD v. CONNECTICUT(1965)

No. 496

Argued: Decided: June 7, 1965

June 7, 1965 – The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Connecticut law banning contraception. In Griswold v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court guaranteed the right to privacy, including freedom from government intrusion into matters of birth control.

Appellants, the Executive Director of the Planned Parenthood League of Connecticut, and its medical director, a licensed physician, were convicted as accessories for giving married persons information and medical advice on how to prevent conception and, following examination, prescribing a contraceptive device or material for the wife’s use. A Connecticut statute makes it a crime for any person to use any drug or article to prevent conception. Appellants claimed that the accessory statute as applied violated the Fourteenth Amendment. An intermediate appellate court and the State’s highest court affirmed the judgment. Held:

151 Conn. 544, 200 A. 2d 479, reversed.

Thomas I. Emerson argued the cause for appellants. With him on the briefs was Catherine G. Roraback.

Joseph B. Clark argued the cause for appellee. With him on the brief was Julius Maretz.

Briefs of amici curiae, urging reversal, were filed by Whitney North Seymour and Eleanor M. Fox for Dr. John M. Adams et al.; by Morris L. Ernst, Harriet F. Pilpel and Nancy F. Wechsler for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc.; by Alfred L. Scanlon for the Catholic Council on Civil Liberties, and by Rhoda H. Karpatkin, Melvin L. Wulf and Jerome E. Caplan for the American Civil Liberties Union et al. [381 U.S. 479, 480]  

MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS delivered the opinion of the Court.

Appellant Griswold is Executive Director of the Planned Parenthood League of Connecticut. Appellant Buxton is a licensed physician and a professor at the Yale Medical School who served as Medical Director for the League at its Center in New Haven – a center open and operating from November 1 to November 10, 1961, when appellants were arrested.

They gave information, instruction, and medical advice to married persons as to the means of preventing conception. They examined the wife and prescribed the best contraceptive device or material for her use. Fees were usually charged, although some couples were serviced free.

The statutes whose constitutionality is involved in this appeal are 53-32 and 54-196 of the General Statutes of Connecticut (1958 rev.). The former provides:

Section 54-196 provides:

The appellants were found guilty as accessories and fined $100 each, against the claim that the accessory statute as so applied violated the Fourteenth Amendment. The Appellate Division of the Circuit Court affirmed. The Supreme Court of Errors affirmed that judgment. 151 Conn. 544, 200 A. 2d 479. We noted probable jurisdiction. 379 U.S. 926 . [381 U.S. 479, 481] 

We think that appellants have standing to raise the constitutional rights of the married people with whom they had a professional relationship. Tileston v. Ullman, 318 U.S. 44 , is different, for there the plaintiff seeking to represent others asked for a declaratory judgment. In that situation we thought that the requirements of standing should be strict, lest the standards of “case or controversy” in Article III of the Constitution become blurred. Here those doubts are removed by reason of a criminal conviction for serving married couples in violation of an aiding-and-abetting statute. Certainly the accessory should have standing to assert that the offense which he is charged with assisting is not, or cannot constitutionally be, a crime.

Source: The History Place caselaw.findlaw.com

Tell Congress: Support the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act.


One of the biggest environmental myths is that our plastic pollution problem will be solved by recycling and more conscious consumers. And while individual action adds up, the truth is that we need big systemic change that addresses the root cause of plastic pollution.

The Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act will do just that. It is comprehensive legislation that holds the big plastic manufacturers and polluters responsible, rather than consumers or communities. It pauses construction on any new plastic-making facilities. It begins to phase out single-use plastic products that aren’t recyclable.

Plastic pollution is wreaking havoc on our planet and our communities. It’s killing wildlife and ending up in our oceans, waterways, and even food. Creating plastic in the first place also requires immense amounts of fossil fuels, and with manufacturing facilities located in low-income communities of color, it disproportionately harms Black and brown residents. And with 99% of plastics made from fossil fuels, the fossil fuel industry has created a plastic boom – and it’s only expected to get worse. As fossil fuel demand continues to drop, the industry has increasingly turned to plastic production.

At every stage of its lifecycle, plastic exacerbates the climate crisis and continues unconscionable environmental injustices. Companies and our elected leaders must protect our communities and put the health of people and the planet ahead of polluter profit. Tell Congress: Pass the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act now!

The Climate Reality Project
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Every. Single. Vote.
Sierra Club