Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland has granted a posthumous pardon to 34 people who were lynched and denied access to legal processes between 1854 and 1933. These people were killed because of their race, and they included 15-year-old Howard Cooper who was hanged by a white mob from a sycamore tree.
Cooper was in 1885 accused of raping Katie Gray, a white teenager, in the former Rockland area in Baltimore County. An all-white jury convicted Cooper of the crime without allowing him or the supposed victim of the rape allegation to testifying. The jury session lasted a few minutes and a white mob dragged the confused black teenager from the Towson jailhouse and lynched him on July 13, 1885. His lawyers were not able to appeal his sentence before he was hanged very early in the morning.
Gov. Hogan said he was petitioned by the students of Loch Raven Technical Academy and the Maryland Lynching Memorial Project to grant pardon to Cooper and the request motivated him to dig deeper into identifying other people who were lynched in Maryland on account of their race, the Baltimore Sun reports.
“In the interest of equal justice under law, I have made the decision to grant a posthumous pardon today for Howard Cooper,” Hogan said. “And studying this case led me to dig deeper. Today I am also granting pardons to all the 34 victims of racial lynchings in the state of Maryland which occurred between 1834 and 1933.”
Hogan said he had asked his chief legal counsel to review all known and unknown cases of racial lynching in Maryland and he and other partners had pulled up the names of the racial victims of lynching in the state from 1834 to 1933. Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, State House Speaker Adrienne Jones, and Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. among other state executives were at the pardoning ceremony.
Hogan reeled out the names of the 34 racial lynched victims as David Thomas, Jim Wilson, Isaac Moore, Jim Quinn, Thomas Jurick, John Jones, John Henry Scott, John Simms, Michael Green, James Carroll, George Peck, John Diggs, George Briscoe, Townsend Cook, Charles Whitley, Benjamin Hance, John Biggus, Asbury Green, James Taylor, Isaac Kemp, Stephen Williams, Jacob Henson, James Bowens, Sidney Randolph, William Andrews, Garfield King, Wright Smith, Lewis Harris, Henry Davis, William Burns, King Johnson, George Armwood, and 13-year-old Frederick whose surname is no longer known.