Containing the Coronavirus
Hey Hey hey it's yletsin end before we get started with this week show. It's a blockbuster about the new season of one of my favorite podcasts. I'm talking about ear hustle and I'm here with my man fifty Grand Air Hustles co-host Earl Woods. What's up Homie? How you doing man? I appreciate that now. I don't know if people know but like you record the show here. I mean literally. Your desk is like right down the road from our correct. You gotTA office. I gotTa this. Well know you former office that you had was not in a place as nice is this. I don't know it wasn't a gated community man really Wednesday prison and that's where I was serving a life sentence and where Niger Porn. I started ear hustle and basically we just tell stories of the daily life in prison. So tell me what's on tap for season five on the inside. You'RE GONNA catch talking about nicknames in the legends behind him and then on the outside you know we're GONNA be talking about how to women get into romantic relationships we guys that's locked up and commit to that long haul you can fine ear house alone any of your podcast apps or you can go to ear. Hustle S Q dot Com and. You can definitely listen in there as his something that people who listen to your podcast may not know that you are an amazing host. What but besides that. You're also an amazing human being. I love being around you. Thanks man I appreciate that. My Dude Earl. Woods from the Center for Investigative Reporting P. R. X. This is revealed today on the show. We're going to tell you the story of a black man who's killing more than eighty years ago raises disturbing questions about the Atlanta Police Department. But with the spread of the new corona virus at the top of everyone's mind would devoting the first part of our our to delving into that by now. This probably sounds familiar. Infected people got a respiratory illness. Health agencies have issued travel advice experts quickly controlled. It could lead to a severe pandemic an outbreak that circles the Globe and affects people everywhere news clips covering the Global Corona virus outbreak. Right wrong these are actors playing newscasters in a high level. Pandemic practice scenario. That's eerily close to what we're seeing now. The global economy was in freefall the GDP down eleven percent. The drill happened last October. Two months before Chinese health officials went public with the discovery of the highly contagious illness. We now call cove nineteen atop. Us Public Health Officer was there with international health officials academics and business leaders. They gathered in New York City to imagine a new corona virus spreading uncontrollably around the globe. The point was to drive home the need to be prepared and today well as they say. This is not a drill. These news reports are real. China is reporting the first debt from a mysterious break in the hunt ovens pandemic spreads through Toledo Iran and South Korea confirming the second case virus. Here in the United States probably close emergency of international acknowledge. What is now obvious? We don't have enough test now. Has Its death related to corona I in California has tested positive for the virus? Let's freeze right there. The virus spreading. But today we're teaming up with K Q d and San Francisco and Cap Radio in Sacramento to stop and look at what went right and what went wrong in the first weeks. After the novel Corona Virus arrived in California reporter Lesley McClurg of takes it from here just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco is Marin County. Where Dr Matt Willis is in charge of public health so of course? He paid attention when he heard reports of a new virus in China and it was the first week of twenty twenty where someone alarming reports of rapid increases in cases. It was clear that this virus had the characteristics for global spread soon the US had its first case tonight. The says the infected pasture pastoring busy SEATAC airport in Seattle. The new virus seem to hit older adults. Hardest about a third of the people living in. Marin county are over sixty so willis went on alert. I I've I took was just moving my office down to where my communicable disease team works kind of knowing we're going to be working together pretty hard for weeks or months on on the last day of January. Us Health and Human Services Secretary Alex as our declared a public health emergency beginning at five PM Sunday February the second the United States government will implement temporary measures to detect and contain the corona virus. The federal government evacuated a couple planeloads of Americans from a cruise ship in Japan and put them in quarantine over one hundred ended up at Travis Air Force Base about an hour east of San Francisco. Us airports began screening. Passengers travel especially to China slowed way down with the State Department issuing the level Ford. Do not travel advisory for all of China American Airlines United and Delta are suspending operations. There that many people had already flown to California from China before word of the virus was widespread the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told Willis and other public health officials to US. Airline passenger lists to start tracking pupil returning to their communities and that was initially. You know anyone who returned from China. We needed to monitor for at least two weeks for the development of symptoms at this point the only confirmed cases of coveted nineteen could be traced back either to recent travel or direct contact with an infected person the CDC's testing guidelines reflected that if you didn't meet those two criteria you weren't going to be tested even if you're showing symptoms for people who were eligible Willis's staff could do a test Senate to CDC headquarters in Atlanta and wait for results but there weren't nearly enough tests even to cover the CDC's directive so we were applying more stringent criteria here in Marin county to really limit the test for those who needed it. Most Willis suspected more infections. Were on the way you know. This is what it looks like when an epidemic spreads is I brought in from identifiable sources on the outside. And then what's IT establishes. A foothold starts becoming exchange between people within the community. And so we're just you know. At that point. We were waiting to see when that would occur. And then it did on February twenty six a hospital in Sacramento about two hours. East announced it was treating a woman sick with the virus who hadn't traveled anywhere or been exposed to anyone infected which was assigned to us that we're starting to see community transmission in our region. This was a turning point the first case of community transmission in the country. It had taken to hospitals more than a week to confirm her illness partly because she wasn't eligible for testing finally a few days later the CDC expanded their criteria then on March fourth man in California died of complications from cove in nineteen he been on a cruise to Mexico. Governor declared a state of emergency and the State of California and the next morning Sandy Adler kill and went to work. She's a nurse at a barrier hospital first patient that morning a ninety two year old man with a fever struggling to breathe that potential case of cove in nineteen honestly. I was really surprised. Surprised because she didn't feel prepared to care for a potential corona virus patient. She says she and her colleagues that morning hadn't had any training yet with the krona virus. They really just reviewed a few things in huddle for a few minutes and they asked us to watch video the emergency room buzz with confusion. They decided to test him. A doctor handed sandy a few test tubes and a handful of paperwork to fill out. No one knew how to get the samples to the county lab. We ended up. Not Knowing exactly how to handle that do. Were we supposed to call the courier? Howard these samples supposed to be handled. Sandy continued to work not knowing for several days whether she'd been exposed to the virus a few days later she found out luckily no but with more suspected cases showing up in the region workers in some hospitals were sent home to self quarantine. Testing was too slow to figure out who was actually infected the testing has been such debacle and it feels like such an unnecessary debacle doctor. Seema Yasmin is a public health specialist and epidemiologist at Stanford University the so called disease detective. I've investigated outbreaks of flesh eating bacteria of Botulinum toxin of whooping cough measles mumps all of that regular stuff as well. She's been watching Corona virus management at the national level. It was really unfortunate. She says that in early February just as the outbreak has started to spread beyond China the CDC released faulty test kits. So you think okay. Well you're making in a rush. These things happen. That's fine but we need to quickly a trait that the agency LADD in sending improved tests out to local public health departments and scientists outside the government had a lot of trouble getting authorization to develop their own tests another issue is that by the time the CDC was sending its testing kits to some labs across the state. The World Health Organization had sent out test to dozens of countries. Who By that point had done hundreds and thousands of tests Dr Steven read from the CDC publicly defended the US approach? There's a process of developing tests when there's a new disease. We followed that procedure. There wasn't a need to follow the. Who Test some countries developed their own tests? By mid-march South Korea had done more than two hundred thousand of them by the CDC's count only about eleven thousand tests. Had been done here by that same time but some question. That number because tracking has been problematic Dr Robert Redfield the director of the CDC testified in early March. That funding is part of the problem. Lloyd CDC the State and local territory. Health departments are underfunded. Wouldn't it be nice if we had a data system that every health department in this country right now to see in real time so that we could predict what's going on and where to go? And put assets. We don't have that doctor. Yasmin says communication and transparency have been problems from the top down. The White House resisted releasing several advisories from the State Department in CDC like warning Americans Against Getting on cruise ships and in early March and online tracker of testing numbers unexpectedly vanished. So think about all those concerns we had about Chinese officials withholding data while magically data disappeared from the CDC's website for people who get mildly ill from the virus or who have good healthcare the lack of tests and information might all add up to just a hassle. But each misstep doctor. Yasmin says puts vulnerable people at higher. Risk about twenty eight million Americans are uninsured and another forty. Four million are underinsured. This is a story of health. Inequity equal access to healthcare and about rich people having the means the resources the time the networks to protect themselves while the homeless the incarcerated people living on the margins of society. Those are the people I worry about the most. A virus moving around uncontrolled in community is dangerous for everyone and with the lack of widespread rapid testing. There was no way to know how many people were infected. Health officials realized they couldn't stop the spread of the virus so some local governments switch strategies. They moved from trying to contain it to try to slow it down several counties like Sacramento which had the nation's first case of community transmission called off the automatic quarantines for possible exposure Sacramento County's top public health official Peterbilt. Johnson held a press conference. There's no point in quarantining for fourteen days at person who's feeling healthy right. If they feel sick then they should stay home. Theoretically this should help ease the burden on healthcare system if doctors and nurses can keep going to work despite possible exposure than those who are sick and get the care they need. There's policy shift was also supposed to make it easier to get tested. But they're still weren't enough kits. Yes it takes a long time because we didn't get the test from the CDC until a couple of weeks ago. We only have twenty tests that we can do a given day Marvin and Ellen Schwartz would love one of those precious tests. The senior couple were on the cruise ship that was held off the coast of San Francisco. Recently I guess about part of the second week. We started hearing rumors that there were some concern. Us officials flu tests out to the ship as it waited to dock but they only tested forty five people out of several thousand. Many of them are now quarantined at a simple hotel again on Travis Air Force Base on his first day there. Marvin watched out the window. As more crucial passengers arrived. No I see that coming off. The bus bringing someone in a wheelchair. I this kind of cruise tracks older people neither Marvin nor are showing symptoms. But still they have no idea if they've caught the corona virus. Ellen really wants to be tested I mean even the people who are not people and took our temperatures do not know whether we will have the option of being just officials say tests are coming but it's not clear when for now ellen has a half red novel the TV and Marvin to keep her entertained until the government tells her she can go home. That's DIS LESLIE MIC clerk. Thanks also to reporter Nicole Nixon from CAP radio for bringing us this story. Testing is becoming more available by the day but experts say the. Us is still lagging far behind where it needs to be one of the reasons. The cruise ship passengers are being quarantined. Is because there's no vaccine to protect the rest of us from Corona virus. Scientists across the world are rushing to create a vaccine including Maria Elena Bavasi. She's a professor and Co Director for the Center for Vaccine Development at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston Marie Elena. Thanks so much for talking to us. Oh thank you for having me on your show. So what are the past? Few weeks been like few so the past few weeks have been at the same time quite frustrating and exciting because we do know that we possibly could have a vaccine that could prevent cases of corona virus. The Vaccine Maria later is so excited about is one team developed to protect against an earlier outbreak of another corona virus. Called SARS one. She's frustrated because she didn't get to finish the project that's because after spending millions of dollars to support this research the National Institutes of health. Pull the plug. This was in two thousand sixteen. Maria Elena team tried to get funding from other agencies and private investors. But no one was interested by then. The SARS outbreak had been over for more than a decade. So I think that priorities shifted with the area of the funders and the priorities shifted with the attention even to be honest. The public attention lily. go back to the science a little bit can you explain the similarity in the two viruses the SARS and the corona so similarity between SARS one in corona virus comes from its genetic code so they are genetically if you look at their amino acid or DNA sequence? You know they're very similar in fact when you then look the mechanisms that these viruses used to infect yourself. We know that these two viruses use the same receptor the same mechanism to infect the human cells especially the cells in your lungs and if you had already developed a vaccine that specifically blocks that ability of the virus to enter the cells we could potentially repurpose and maybe be looking at how he would protect against the Kovic. Nineteen what was it like for you in two thousand sixteen when Nolan would fund your project so I can go. I go back to You know a little bit of a level of frustration. I mean we certainly are a small group where a very passionate group that tries to develop vaccines that you know especially are for not only impoverished populations but that would address very important and timely a health issues so we were disappointed. In you know the agencies certainly Had other problems that were occurring in the world you know as you know I can relate to the the bowl experience But that certainly is not ultimately an excuse right. I mean we can just put things on hold while others things off. I mean we're playing whack-a-mole game here as you know right. We have to do things in parallel because as one thing is in result in attended to other things are also arising if you'd gotten more funding in twenty sixteen. Would your vaccine be saving lives? Now the answer would probably be. Yes if we would have done for years ago. What we are tempting to start doing today we would before years ahead of the game and we would at least know it would not be useful or yes. He would be useful rather than now asking that question without having the ability of moving at a very quickly. Does it make sense to continue to develop a vaccine? That's not a perfect match. I strongly believe that we should evaluate everything that we have especially those that are even for other types of SARS and the reason why I say this is because what it's very important for us is reduced deaths reduce severity. So probably our vaccine could do that even though it may not be a perfect fit. Most importantly knowing that there is going to be a huge likelihood that we're going to have another corona virus in the future. I think that the need to look at everything that we have in not. Just say well you know this. One was for an old virus. He's not gonNA apply for the new virus. He's absolutely I mistake. Have you gotten funding to further your work on the original Vecsey so we are still trying to get some funding to move our vaccine out of the freezer and moving into a safety testing in humans the NIH is going to give us some funds to see if we can also start activities to develop a very specific covert nineteen a vaccine? So that is of course great but we still haven't been able to mobilize the vaccine that we have in the freezer and less question for you. So the World Health Organization has now come out and said that the corona virus outbreak is a pandemic. What does that actually mean for people? Who Don't follow this type of stuff. Well I think that first and foremost we have to not enter into a a crisis mode in other populations should keep a common sense. I think we all have to understand that. Now it's at a different level. We certainly would like to continue our daily lives with US minimal interruptions as possible but more specifically. I think maybe you and I know we are healthy. Maybe we're young but we have to remember that the people who are really being highly affected are in a people who are older. You know that maybe. They're even confined in nursing homes and that it's the fact that we ourselves knowing that we may not be able to go see our families like for example. My father is in Honduras and I know the stress that this will bring to the Honduran health system and of course they're worse that I can do is me travel going to see my dad as much as I wish I could be with him. Because he's an eighty seven year old man that I don't know if I'm a symptomatic or eventually I'm gonNA transmit it to him. So we need to be cognizant of the decisions we make. We have to wash our hands absolutely constantly. You know bomb your elbows. Don't kiss everybody on the streets right And I know it's going to be hard but if we all joined forces we are at big huge community in the world and I think we're going to get over. This really is the CO Director of the Center for Vaccine Development at Baylor College of Medicine. Thank you so much for talking to US thank you. It's been an absolute pleasure to speak to your radio listeners. Are you a health professional with information on the fight against the corona virus? We want to hear from you. Get in touch by going to reveal news dot org slash tips. That's reveal news dot org slash tips. When we return we look back at a painful chapter in America's history the lynching of African Americans and the efforts to come to terms with that legacy you're listening to reveal from the Center for investigative reporting PR X. This is revealed Alad. The National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery Alabama is dedicated to the victims of white supremacy in America and in particular the thousands of black people who were lynched. Our there recently and I just don't have the words for how much it move me. It's a striking open air pavilion with hundreds of suspended. Steel columns engraved with thousands of names. The opening of the memorial and a nearby museum in two thousand eighteen too big crowds in worldwide attention. The Legacy Museum and memorial provides a mirror to face some of the ugliness in this country's past for. There's no way we can heal until we. I acknowledge and address our wounds dealing with our wounds is what this memorial sets out to do reporter Stephanie. Stokes came here a few months after the memorial opened. It's an emotional experience. It's pretty overwhelming. You pass through all of these columns with the names of victims of lynching and you grasp the immensity of this part of our our country's history Stephanie reports on inequality and Racial Discrimination for public radio station WABC ATLANTA. She originally brought us this story back in the fall. When she found the names of lynching victims from Atlanta some of the information was pretty familiar to her and it's important to note that lynching isn't always hanging it's any killing where mob takes the law into its own hands. There are a bunch of names that all correspond to this one event that took place in one thousand nine hundred six they call it the Atlanta race riot but really it was a white mob that killed twenty five black people but after that I actually see a name I had never heard of before. It's Thomas Fench. And then the date nineteen thirty six and I look around at the memorial. And there's no information whatsoever. May Thomas the group behind the memorial the equal justice initiative. They did a bunch of research to figure out which names belonged at the memorial. But they haven't made that research public yet. I do know there are a few different lynching. Databases created decades ago. That the memorial used. But you know in general you have to understand. These cases did take place quite a long time ago. So Stephanie Dug into the newspaper archives. She found a brief story in the Atlanta Constitution which catered to a white audience in the nineteen thirties. It says that he was accused of rape by a white woman. Police picked him up. He tried to escape and he reached for an officer's gun and that officer fired three times. That is a story that I've heard so many times both historically but also in modern day America a suspect reaches for an officer's gun and then the officer ends up shooting the suspect. Yeah that's why I wanted to find more information and I did in black newspapers from the time. They're stories actually questioned the police narrative. Then I find this unpublished investigation and a local archive here. It said that Thomas Finch was lynched by the Atlanta police. So even though the story happened in the thirties it feels really relevant to today. I mean I'm I'm a big believer in understanding what happened in the past. So that we can navigate the present the future. So you going back looking into the past. How do you do that? I didn't just want to find the details of what took place. I wanted to find the people who are around now. The descendants of those involved and the first person I reach is Thomas Finch's niece and her name is Joyce finch Morris. Hi Stephanie. My name is Joyce Cinch Morris and I am returning your call. This is related to my uncle. Thomas Finch Joyce doesn't sound surprised to hear from me. A student. Northeastern University had contacted her about Thomas. Inches case the year before we set up a time to go over the research I've gathered. She lives in her childhood. Home and Atlanta's Grove Park neighborhood. It's an old stone schoolhouse financed. The walls inside are decorated with paintings. She's collected over the years mostly by African American artists and mementos from her travels around the world. Joy stressed carefully. She's formal a little subdued but she doesn't hesitate to answer any questions about her life for her family. Although she says she doesn't know she tells me she moved back to Atlanta. Only a few years ago. Do you like Atlanta. Not really a I. I left Atlanta because I really did not like it. I grew up in the fifties and sixties and when I go to other places where we'll go to. Dc Go to New York or LA. I didn't see some of the restrictions that I experienced here. Restrictions like having to use the back door at the movie theater. Joyce's families part of the city's black middle class but the realities of segregation. Were still there. And she says in places like New York. She just thought there was more culture. The theater museums. What I wanted out of New York Atlanta just didn't have. She moved to New York in her twenties and started a career in finance and community development. She ended up away from Atlanta for fifty years. Today Joyce regrets. She never got around to asking her parents for more of their history. She remembers when she was young. She tried to learn about her. Dad's brother Thomas. He died more than a decade before she was born. But it was not something that was discussed and I understand Too painful perhaps. Her mom was the only one who talked about her uncle's death. Mother said that he was lynch because he was dating someone white. That's all I knew what did know any details about how in who did it. I opened up my laptop on her dining room table and I realized I have more information about this part of the family's history than Joyce we start scrolling through the documents. We look at the report. I found by a civil rights group called the Commission on interracial cooperation. The commission's work isn't widely known today but in the early part of the twentieth century it fought against lynching along with groups like the N. Double ACP. Although the commission's leaders were mainly White. Can you make it just a little larger? Yeah the report says. Thomas Finch was an orderly at Grady Atlanta's oldest public hospital one day a white patient named Zella Smith accused him of taking her into a closet and raping her Thomas's white. Co Workers didn't believe the assault could have happened for one. The closet where it allegedly took place wasn't earshot of doctors offices small according to the Commission. This is what happened next to Atlanta. Police officers came to the hospital to find out where Thomas lived but they didn't go to his home right away. They waited hours until three in the morning when they showed up. They weren't alone. The finch family noticed several other people. It's not clear who standing behind the two officers. They arrested Thomas but never took him to the police station instead about an hour later. They brought him to Grady Hospital. He had been beaten and shot. I showed Joyce her uncle's death certificate. So you can see the cause of death here. Gunshot wounds of the neck chest and abdomen. Twenty seven well. The Commission's report concludes that Thomas Finch was wrongfully accused of rape and then lynched. But there's another important detail as show. Joyce a newspaper story for more than a decade after Thomas's death it's about the Atlanta police officer who shot him claiming it was in self defense his name. Samuel Roper is an energy. Oh he was a cake. He was a clansman. The Article Says Roper became the national leader of the Ku Klux Klan. Oh so I guess that shouldn't surprise anybody. Joyce seems calm but I see her scrunching her eyebrows at times trying to make sense of all this then her thoughts shift to the present. The question is where can all lead? I mean clearly be exonerated after the fact have no idea like as a family member. Is that something that you want if he was innocent? Of course yes. This is a new question that I hadn't thought of. What would it take to set the record straight? Indicate that happened eighty years ago. I Tell Joyce I'll let her know I uncover anything more. I go back into the city records. I checked notes from the Police Committee from the week. He died board minutes from Grady Hospital. Nothing about Thomas Finch or the commission's investigation into his death. It doesn't seem like the report was even made public. One of the only experts who has any record of Thomas? Finch is E. M. Bag. Great well do you want to start by introducing yourself. Okay I am. Em Beck professor emeritus of sociology and Desire megs distinguished teaching Professor Emeritus at University of Georgia. He's spent the last few decades developing a lynching database. I asked him why the city never followed up on the commission's findings I know most rural engine's never got a thorough review. But I also thought you know this is Atlanta. This is the city of Atlanta. Couldn't something happen there? That might not be able to happen elsewhere in the south I think about just what it's all white power structure and so you've got to ask. What is it in their interest to try to pursue these things and especially if it involves the police and I would say that they have no interest in the police. Involvement apparently made the N. W. C. P. Uneasy to in a letter the group's director Walter White didn't want to call his case lynching at least at first professor Beck says the history of police lynchings murky he can think of maybe thirty cases like Thomas's there could be more. The problem is the only written records are the officers own reports. The one thing that we know at least after the revival of the Ku Klux Klan in the nineteen fifteen. Is that one of the things that the Klan did was try to recruit policemen. Policemen like Samuel Roper. I learned he wasn't the only Atlanta officer loyal to the clan and the one thousand nine Hundred Ninety S. This tape is from an oral history interview with former Atlanta police. Chief Herbert Jenkins will almost say that. Most of the members at one time most of the permanent members of key club playing yeah. The Atlanta Police Department was full of Klan members in the nineteen thirties. Gets me thinking about other police shootings from the time? Like the officer. Who is with Roper? The Night Thomas died I see that he killed at least five black men in his career in one case he used machine gun but so many years later. There's no evidence to prove. These were anything other than officer involved shootings. That's what makes Thomas Finch's case stand out as Professor Beck says I think the case there. Thomas Finch it becomes Especially with the report done by the CIC the commissioner racial cooperation in fact suggests that You know yeah he was he would fall under the definition of what up a lynching would be the commission's investigation into Thomas's death is the most reliable information I may ever have. But my reporting isn't done there. Were two other people directly connected to this case and I want to talk to their families. The First Person Stephanie Tracks. Down is the relative of Samuel Wilbur. The man who killed Thomas Finch if we go far enough back all ancestors that things good and bad. That's next on reveal a from the Center for investigative reporting NPR x. This is revealed. I'm Alison we're looking at the killing of a black man named Thomas finch that happened in Atlanta in nineteen thirty. Six police claimed they acted in self defense but local civil rights group determined. He was lynched when reporter. Stephanie Stokes picks up the story of the officer who shot finch. It isn't that hard to trace the life and career of Samuel Roper. He served on the Atlanta. Police Department then moved up the ladder. Way Up the ladder to lead the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Making him the state's top law enforcement officer after that and the late nineteen forties. He took over the national leadership of the Ku Klux Klan. I look up. Rubers obituary and from there. I'm able to find his grandson Kent Giles. We talk a few times. He's never heard of Thomas finch and he's reluctant to do an interview but after he goes over my research he agrees and drive to his house. In Marble Hill a rural area north of Atlanta. Kent is ready for me. He's arranged all the documents. I gave him on his dining room table along with a small pad where he's written down notes. He's friendly but when I turn on the recorder. The room feels a little tense. So you were kind of nervous about being misrepresented in the story as curious what you WanNa talk about that at all well. I just think that there's always a risk by association. I think most people understand that none of us our ancestors if we go far enough back we all have ancestors that did things good and bad. Ken says he knew his grandfather roper. Lived until he was ninety they would talk about his service in the first World War and his career in law enforcement and eventually the clan. Kent says his grandfather only joined to get ahead in politics. He remembers asking about the violence. The hate group is known for a said you know when you were head of the KKK. Which was actually I think he was grand imperial wizard. Maybe a total of a year eighteen months so it wasn't very long. He said that he never condone lynching and newspapers reported him. As saying that you know we will consider our political activism for white supremacy but we will not condone violence. I saw an article where Roper said. The Klan did not condone violence. But I tell you about another article one where the clan was accused of bombing the homes of black families in Atlanta. Roper was in charge then Kent says. His grandfather blamed that kind of violence on fringe members. He compares his grandfather to Georgia Governor. Eugene talmadge he was a Klan sympathizer who by the way fought to keep black people from voting. No there's no question there. Politics was segregationist. It was white supremacist. they were staunchly anti-communist most of the things that I understood about them and about that era. Were political things. So what does can't make of Thomas finch's case then he goes through the commission's report point by point. Yeah it's it's a lot of detail. But he says he agrees with the commission that there are aspects of the case. That seem off like the police arresting Thomas at three. Am while the commission's all this as police sponsored lynching. Kent comes to a very different conclusion. What are read into this event. Is that the police. Were concerned that there was going to be a lynching or some kind of activity. Either by the accusers family or some racist group and tell in other words Kent believes his grandfather was trying to protect Thomas finch from a mob not conspiring with one. Then he thinks Thomas tried to escape and reached for his grandfather's gun. This is what the officers claimed at the time. Still Kent says he can totally see why others might side with the commission's account I tell him yeah for a lot of people right if they hear that there was a case that From the nineteen thirties that a civil rights group said was probably lynching and then they hear that the shooter involved was later the leader of the Ku Klux Klan. In the south. They're probably going to feel pretty certain about what happens that it was a lynching right I mean. Would you tell those people that they're wrong? Well I think that I think all of us have to be honest and say we're viewing the world through certain filters so I would say to them. You know I'm viewing this through as much. Truth is I can find which has a lot of missing pieces And and through the filters of a man I knew the only thing I can say truthfully is. I don't know what really happened and I don't think we're ever going to really know what happened. Thomas finch died more than eighty years ago. None of the witnesses are alive still. There's one more person I'm interested in Odiele Smith. She's the white woman who told police that. Thomas Finch raped her. I have a little trouble tracking her. After the case she died in the nineteen eighties with different first name. I managed to locate her niece. Dolores sharp she agrees to meet me at a library near her home. In peachtree city south of Atlanta like Kent. Giles delores cautious. We spend a couple of hours going over documents before. She's okay to talk on the record. Dolores says she grew up around her aunt. She saw her anytime. She went over to her. Grandma's house. Zele Smith lived there. She never married. When did you first hear the story that I called you about a young girl when Ours Toe that. My aunt was raped by a black person at the hospital. I never really knew a lot of details in because it was taboo to talk about. You didn't bring it up and I I don't know why I I was mature. In a sense setup felt like maybe it was something that I didn't need to plunder into. She says the assault was just too painful for her family to talk about. Oh I think it was a major of that permanently scarred the heart and the mind of the members that were closest to my aunt I can hear the conviction in her voice when she talks about this family history so I'm not surprised when Delors is disturbed when she reads the commission's conclusion that Thomas Finch was wrongfully accused. The implication is that her aunt lied about the assault. When you hear something contrary to what you grew up believing you might even go on defense of that are you might take the attitude that she was just completely discarded that her. What happened to her was completely irrelevant? I have a lot more questions for dolores but were interrupted. A peachtree city librarian motions through the glass of study room. Our time is up. Deloris asks me if we can reschedule but weeks go by and she never does agree to another meeting. This isn't what I expected to hear from the other families. Somehow after all my research I thought there might be consensus on how we should look at Thomas case but there isn't I talk to Katherine Meeks. She's a former African American studies. Professor who now directs the Absalom Center for Racial Healing and Atlanta. I that I was just so naive going into this that I was so surprised to have disagreement about something that happened eighty years ago and I just wondered if we can't agree about that. Like what can we agree? Agree about now the history. We don't agree about the written. History of the United States Professor Meek says Lynching in particular is a point of shame. That's one piece of the history that we've tried the hardest to ignore. We'll talk about slavery. We'll talk about Jim Crow. We'll talk about reconstruction but we don't really WanNa talk about lynching many places in Georgia still don't want to talk about length chains even though there are more lynchings here than any other state except Mississippi. There are exceptions. A couple of years ago I drove out to a small city called lagrange where the police chief had called a community meeting. Two hundred people crowded into a methodist church. Chief Ludek Mar spoke about Austin Calloway who was killed in nineteen nine hundred forty one. A mob stormed the city jail. I sincerely regret. And denounce the role. Our Police Department played in Austin's lynching both through our action and our inaction and for that. I'm profoundly sorry it should never have happened. His comments received a standing ovation and drew national attention. But in Thomas Finch's case it doesn't seem like authorities have any plans to apologize. I let the city of Atlanta and the Police Department know about what I've found. I sent emails even registered letters. Would they acknowledge his case. As a lynching Atlanta's police chief Erica? Shields wouldn't talk to me. The office of Mayor Kisha Lands Bottoms only gave a short written statement. It says the city has no official record of Thomas's case but there is no denying the Atlanta quote. Still where scars from the deep wounds inflicted during that dark chapter of history and this surprises me to Atlanta's very different now. The all white power structure is gone. Its head blackmails for decades and the police force majority black but when it comes to Thomas finches case they still have little to say I ask Catherine meeks about this well I I just think it's denial of the history. I think they don't WanNa take responsibility. They may even be worried that if they say something. They will be admitting to some culpability. That might lead them in legal trouble. Meek says it doesn't matter if the people in power have changed the institutions. Still need to recognize what happened is not as important for me for somebody to go. Stand up in front of a microphone and say I'm sorry as it is for them to really be awake to really understand and really do something but if you do in all of that you probably don't mind saying you're sorry for now the most public acknowledgement of Thomas. Finch's death is still in another state. The place where I came across his name the memorial for lynching victims in Montgomery Alabama several months after we first met I joined. Joyce at the memorial. She's on a civil rights tour with a couple of friends. We walk down into the lower level of the main pavilion past a wall with streaming water. Hundreds of steel columns shaped like coffins are hanging above us. They're organized by the counties. Where the lynchings happens. Joyce's moving quickly. She seems anxious almost excited. We find the column that includes Atlanta. It's so high above us that Joyce strains to make out the names of the victims etched on the column. Can you see? It might be good because I don't want to start crying so my photographer takes a picture of Thomas's name and enlarges on the screen of his camera. Just to give you context the bottom right. She and her friends stare at the image. Then Joyce approaches me. I'm really reserved. Most of the time pull my feeling said never knew my uncle. I can't pass this along to my family members once you're still alive and two grandkids and she pauses like she's taking in what's around her her uncle's name among more than four thousand other African Americans who were lynched in this country. I mean this is history. He's removing hits and he's not forgotten vitamin even know him. Some foreigner we step outside the pavilion and see another set of the columns lined up on the ground there duplicates the people behind the memorial want to send them to the counties where the lynchings happened sort of like historical markers in Atlanta. There's a private group working to make that happen. It would finally bring Thomas Fench public recognition in the city where he was killed more than eighty years ago after spending all this time on his case. I can't say how the effort will be received Stephanie. Stokes is a reporter with public radio station. Wabc e story was edited by David Lewis Investigations editor at WNYC introduced as a part of a collaboration with APM reports Our editors this week were Michael Montgomery and for our corona virus coverage Janci with Taki. Taylor needs that help from reveals Emily Harris and Elizabeth shogren especial. Thanks to polly Stryker of K. Q. E. D. Cap radios. Lick Miller and Joanne Griffith with the California collaborative newsroom. Thanks also Susannah capital Ludo of w AB in Atlantic and Chris Worthington of APM reports. That's the investigative documentary unit of American Public Media Production Manager. One day in a HOSA are sound design. Team is the dynamic duo J. Breezy Mr Jim Briggs. If a Nando my man you'll route that helped this week from Zach macneice genie enabling staff are CEO's. Christopher Offenburg. Matt Thompson is our editor in chief. Our executive producer is Kevin Sullivan. 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