- May 26 & 27 - All libraries CLOSED for Memorial Day
This week we continue our discussion of Swift Justice by Harry Farrell which details the 1933 kidnapping of San Jose retail heir Brook Hart and the ultimate lynching of his accused abductors. I also hope you'll join me this Saturday, September 22, for a walking tour of some of the important sites from the Hart case and other challenging times from San Jose's past. Grab your smartphone, sturdy walking shoes and a water bottle and meet me at St. Patrick's Church (389 E. Santa Clara St.) for the Scan Jose tour, Tragedies and Calamities. At each stop, we'll access historic photos and information related to an event that occurred at that very spot.
As we continue our discussion of Swift Justice and the events of 1933, we hope you will participate in the discussion by contributing your comments.
Our question this week is: What do you think of the statements and actions of Governor Rolph in support of the lynch mob? How is the public's faith in the justice system affected when even public officials will not give it a chance to work?
I found Governor Rolph's comments both before and after the lynching surprising. When Sheriff Emig called for assistance, the Governor apparently refused to even consider it, even though he was well aware of the possibility, even probability of violence. He told attorney Vincent Hallinan, "If they lynch those fellows, I'll pardon the lynchers." Later, he issued a statement that, "I'm not going to call out the Guard to protect the kidnappers who willfully killed that fine boy. Let the law take its course (p. 193)." By refusing repeated requests for assistance, Governor Rolph more or less insured that mob violence, rather than "the law" would "take its course." Elected officials swear an oath to uphold the law and that requires them to see that the rights and safety of all citizens, even those accused of heinous acts be insured. What did you think of the Governor's remarks? Should citizen's have faith in our justice system when even elected officials are not willing to give the system a chance to work?