Injustice Kills Another Jew


Injustice Kills Another Jew Essay, Research Paper

Injustice kills another Jew

Leo Frank in the article “The Fate of Leo Frank” by Leonard Dinnerstein did

not receive a fair trial. I believe that the ghost of Leo Frank should haunt forever

the families of those who convicted and lynched him. Prejudice convicted Leo

Frank, not the evidence presented at his trial.

In July, 1913, Leo Frank, a Georgian pencil manufacturing company

co-owner and manager, was indicted by a grand jury for the murder of Mary

Phangan, a thirteen year old girl from Marietta, Georgia employed in Frank’s


Phagan was on her way to the Confederacy Memorial Day parade when she

stopped by the factory to collect her wages. She did not arrive at the parade. The

next series of events took four weeks to try in the Georgia courts.

The principle witness at Frank’s trial was Jim Conley, a janitor at the pencil

factory. Prior to the trial, Conley gave four affidavits. With each he changed his

story. Conley bore witness at the trial of Frank’s indiscretions with his female

employees. He also wrote notes that incriminated himself, allegedly at the direction

of Frank. His testimony was always inconsistent and his performance on the

witness stand appeared coached. Everything about this black man seemed


Other forces working against Frank were his own lawyers. Luther Z. Rosser

and Ruben R. Arnold were supposedly two of the best attorneys of the day,

comparable to Johnny Cochran of the O.J. Simpson trial fame. Rosser and Arnold,

I believe, did not defend Frank to the best of their ability. By not taking advantage

of the great number of inconsistencies in the evidence presented by the prosecution

they allowed facts to go unclarified. They did not use evidence collected by the

police investigation which could have conveyed that necessary shadow of doubt to

the jury. They did not ask for a change of venue for a trial which was, before it

even convened, being tried in the local papers.

The greatest and most decisive of the forces working against Frank was

prejudice. Frank was from New York, an industrialist, and a Jew. Any of these

prejudices in the south in the year nineteen-thirteen was bad enough. But the

combination of the three proved lethal to Leo Frank. He was failed by the system,

and lynched by a mob that was angered that the Governor of Georgia commuted

Frank s sentence. Christians in Georgia were prejudiced against the Jewish people

because the Jews had killed their king nineteen hundred years earlier. The citizens

of Atlanta were prejudiced against an industrialist because factories and industry

would undermine the southern agrarian way of life.

Leo Frank was convicted and was serving his time on a farm detail when

word of his sentence commutation was let out. A group of locals raided the farm

and drove Frank to Marietta where they lynched him. His attackers were never

identified, though the local community more than likely could have named them.

This is the injustice Frank received.

Prejudice was, I believe, the deciding factor in the case of Leo Frank. And as long

as there is prejudice in the state and local governments there will always be a Leo

Frank being sacrificed on the alter intolerance and bigotry.

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