Saturday, August 02, 2008

Dishonored Soldier Gets Apology From Army, Dies Next Day

Samuel Snow was wrongly convicted of rioting and murder in 1944 while in the Army in Seattle, Washington. His job was munitions handling as it was for many Negro soldiers during segregated World War II. Near his duty station at Fort Lawton, was a POW camp housing Italian soldiers. The Italian POWs, who just months before had been killing American soldiers in N. Africa, were allowed under supervision to come and go day and night. The POWs were allowed entry to stores, restaurants, movie theaters, and cafes to which the uniformed Negroes were forbidden.

The Associated Press reports:

SEATTLE (AP) - A day after the Army formally apologized for the wrongful conviction of 28 black soldiers in a riot and lynching in Seattle in 1944, 1 of the soldiers has died.

Rep. Jim McDermott says 83-year-old Samuel Snow died Sunday.

Snow came to Seattle to hear the formal apology delivered Saturday by Ronald James, assistant secretary of the Army for manpower and reserve affairs. But he missed the ceremony at Discovery Park because he was admitted to Virginia Mason Hospital with an irregular heartbeat.

Snow's son, Ray Snow, says receiving the long-delayed honorable discharge left his father at ease.
This is the Washington State History Online Encyclopedia version of the events of the riot and murder:

Riot involving African American soldiers occurs at Fort Lawton and an Italian POW is lynched on August 14, 1944.

On August 14, 1944, several dozen African American soldiers riot at Seattle’s Fort Lawton against Italian prisoners of war, and the next morning one of the Italians, Guglielmo Olivotto, is discovered hanged. Newspaper accounts in the coming days attribute the riot to the resentment of the black soldiers toward the Italian Prisoners of War due to the seemingly lenient, congenial treatment of the Italian soldiers. This is the story that receives nationwide attention, that Seattle officials and citizens react to, and that goes down in history. It is the story related in an earlier version of this file. What actually happened was suppressed at the time: the Army classified its investigation, and contemporary newspaper accounts were based on hearsay gathered in a bar days later and on similar dubious sources. The ensuing court martial results in the conviction of 23 African American soldiers, including one for killing Olivotto. Sixty years later the Army’s investigation conducted by Brigadier General Elliot D. Cooke is declassified, and researcher
Jack Hamann discovers that what was alleged to have happened was not what really happened. This file is largely based on his book, On American Soil. As a result of Hamann's book, four of the soldiers will petition the Army to reconsider their cases, and in October 2007 Army's Board of Corrections of Military Records will overturn the four convictions, leaving the way open for all the cases to be reopened.

Fort Lawton: 1944

Fort Lawton, in the Magnolia Bluff neighborhood of Seattle, was an Army training base and staging area for combat in the Pacific. In 1944, a group of Italian Prisoners Of War, were stationed at the fort to perform labor and maintenance duties. These particular Italian soldiers were carefully selected -- in general they had been drafted into the war and had been unenthusiastic soldiers, unlike other Prisoners Of War who were committed fascists and difficult to handle. The Army was highly concerned with treating Prisoners Of War humanely in order to conform to the Geneva convention and because any poor treatment would likely be paid for by American Prisoners Of War in Europe. But some local citizens and military men objected to the lenient, congenial treatment this selected group of POWs received in Seattle. After all, a year and a half before, they had been battling U.S. troops in Africa. These Italian prisoners enjoyed supervised visits to area homes, taverns, and to the movies.

Also stationed at Fort Lawton were several segregated Port Companies of the Transportation Corps, composed of African Americans trained to unload ships in combat areas. According to contemporary newspaper reports of the episode, these troops resented Fort Lawton's Italian POWs who visited local taverns, which excluded black enlisted men. Among the resentments were allegedly that local women lavished attention on the Italians. "[G]irls come out to service dances and make a big fuss over the Italians," a Seattle Times article dated August 18, 1944, reported. "They find 'em romantic. You know, speaking a foreign language and all that."

Also present at Fort Lawton were white Military Police (MP) and some 10,000 other soldiers.

The Event

On August 14, 1944, the black troops were notified that the next day they would be shipped overseas. That night there was a big party in their mess hall. Late in the evening, three Italians returning from town encountered three African Americans. All had been drinking. The groups clashed, supposedly leaving one black American unconscious. A particular MP, a private, came by and took the unconscious man away to the hospital. This MP claimed that one of the soldiers blew a whistle and trouble then started. Supposedly angry at the injury of one of their group, a number of black soldiers entered the Italian bunkhouse and orderly room and began severely beating and stabbing the Italians along with the four American translators present.

Italians ran out of bed, hid under furniture, and ran out to hide in nearby woods. The barracks and orderly room were wrecked. Thirty-two men were later hospitalized; a dozen sustained severe injuries including three fractured skulls, penetrating knife wounds, and shattered bones (p. 142). The following morning the same MP who had transported the supposedly unconscious black soldier to the hospital, along with another MP, discovered the body of Guglielmo Olivotto at the foot of Magnolia Bluff, hanging on wires that were part of the obstacle course.

Questions and Odd Occurrences

The MP who transported the unconscious black soldier later testified concerning the trouble starting and the whistle blowing, but at the time he drove right past the guardhouse without stopping to report trouble. He drove past the nearby hospital with the injured black soldier, taking him instead to a hospital on the far side of Fort Lawton. Another witness reported that there was no whistle.

After the attack started, several panicked phone calls were made from the Italian quarters, but there was a remarkable lapse of 30 to 45 minutes before Military Police arrived on the scene.

At least one white man was seen among the rioters, hitting Italians with a baton (p. 96).

A black soldier, among those detained after the riot, wrote to a friend in Washington D.C., giving his version of events. The white MPs, he said, had been harassing the Italians for days at the PX, “and trying to get the colored troops involved.” In general, he said, it was the whites who resented the Italians, far more than the blacks (p. 113).

Either through remarkable incompetence or a cover-up, all evidence of the identity of particular black rioters was destroyed. The Italian barracks were repaired and repainted with dazzling speed -- within 24 hours. Not a single fingerprint was taken, though they were everywhere. None of the white MPs could recall exactly who the black rioting troops were, claiming “you can’t tell one from another.”

All the black troops of both companies, whether or not they were involved in the riot, were herded into a stockade but allowed to keep their weapons. When their weapons were finally confiscated they were not tagged or in any way treated as evidence. They were thrown in a heap (p. 140-141).

There were no signs of struggle on Olivotto’s body. (However, there were superficial abrasions on his legs.) An important fact is that Olivotto was extremely fearful of black people. He was last seen leaping in terror out of a window next to his bunk. A possibility is that he was driven away from the riot by someone he felt safe with, i.e., a white MP (p. 146-147). Most evidence at the scene of the hanging crime, including clear footprints and the rope, was destroyed. Dominic Moreo, in his Riot at Fort Lawton, 1944, points out that shoes, apparently belonging to Olivotto, were found in the nettles some distance away. This might suggest that he was dragged through the nettles, face down, probably by two people. But the evidence is too sketchy to draw a firm conclusion.

Whatever happened, the Army’s investigator, Brigadier General Cooke, was scandalized at the large amount of obvious lying under oath by many MPs and officers at Fort Lawton.


The death of an Italian prisoner of war became an important issue to American military and diplomatic officials. U.S. Forces were then battling German forces in France and Italy and any perception that the U.S. mistreated prisoners had important repercussions with world opinion and with the treatment of U.S. prisoners in German and Japanese hands. There was immediate and intense pressure to solve the crime apparently perpetrated by African Americans.

After a hasty review of the facts, 44 African American soldiers were charged with a variety of counts including riot and murder. Four of the defendants faced the death penalty.

The charges were prepared by Lieutenant Colonel Leon Jaworski, a Texas prosecutor in civilian life and later Watergate Special Prosecutor. The defense was handled by Major William Beeks, a Seattle maritime law specialist and later U.S. District Court Judge. Beeks was given two weeks to prepare a defense for 44 clients, including four accused of capital murder. In the end, two soldiers had charges dropped, 13 soldiers were acquitted, and 28 were convicted, two of manslaughter. It was the largest Army court martial during World War II.

After the war, the longer prison sentences were reduced by a clemency board, although some soldiers served as long as 25 years. Guglielmo Olivotto was buried at the cemetery at Fort Lawton in an area away from the American graves.

A Death Far from Home

Of Guglielmo Olivotto, Jack Hamann writes:

“Olivotto was a quiet man, well read and devoutly religious. He was lean, five feet ten inches and just 150 pounds. His eyes were dark; his hair was black and thick, except for a bald spot on the crown of his head; he wore a dark mustache. A thin scar slid down the right side of his scalp at hairline. He was never married and had no children. He didn’t drink or gamble. He had no interest in being a soldier” (p. 11).

Sixty-three Years Later

In late October 2007, the Army's Board of Corrections of Military Records, after a year of deliberation, ruled that the black soldiers court-martialed in the death of Olivotto were unfairly denied access to their attorneys and to investigative records and should have their convictions overturned. This ruling applies to four soldiers who petitioned military investigators (three of them, represented by their families, are no longer living).

The soldiers petitioned after the publication of Jack Hamann's book, with the aid of Congressman Jim McDermott, Democrat from Washington state, and Representative Duncan Hunter, Republican from California. Ultimately the ruling could cover another two-dozen soldiers convicted at the time.

The four soldiers who petitioned were Booker W. Townsell, of Milwaukee, Luther L. Larkin, of Searcy, Arkansas, William G. Jones, of Decatur, Illinois, and Samuel Snow, of Leesburg, Florida. Of these four, Snow alone is still alive. After serving a year in prison and being dishonorably discharged, Snow returned to his home in Leesburg, Florida, to raise two children and to work as a church janitor. He lived for decades with the dishonorable discharge and was denied benefits of the GI Bill and veterans' health care.

He is one of only two of the black soldiers believed to be still alive. Snow was convinced that the conviction was a racial injustice but nevertheless burned his Army paperwork in order to hide it from his children.

Restitution will include honorable discharges and back pay for the soldiers who petitioned.

Snow told a reporter, "I'm rejoicing today. I'm not mad at nobody. I'm just as satisfied as can be"(Martin).
Samuel Snow died the day after receiving a formal apology from the US Army. Pvt Samuel Snow is now officially Honorably discharged from the US Army. Pvt Snow was a good man in 1944 and Mr Snow was a good man afterward. He always knew that and now we all know. Thank you for your service, sir.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Barry O - Liar, Liar! Pantalones on Fire!

Barry Obama admits dollar comment was about race and he was playing the race card just like John McCain's people said.

ABC Small World News, via Gateway Pundit, says,
Sen. Barack Obama's chief strategist conceded that the Democratic presidential candidate was referring to his race when he said Republicans were trying to scare voters by suggesting Obama "doesn't look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills."

Previous Obama Dollar post.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

Back to the Future, Obama Supports Off-Shore Oil Drilling

Back when gasoline was cheap at only $4.00/gal on June 18, 2008, Barack Obama opposed lifting the moratorium on off-shore oil drilling because it would not do anything to bring down the cost of gas today. At best, it would be 7-10 years before any of new oil wells would provide gas in the tank.

Sen. Barack Obama, the Democrats' presumptive presidential nominee, rejected lifting the drilling moratorium that has been supported by a succession of presidents for nearly two decades.

"This is not something that's going to give consumers short-term relief and it is not a long-term solution to our problems with fossil fuels generally and oil in particular," said Obama.
It must be August 2018 because Sen. Barack Obama is now willing to support off-shore drilling if that will bring the price of gasoline down.

"My interest is in making sure we've got the kind of comprehensive energy policy that can bring down gas prices," Obama said in an interview with The Palm Beach Post.

"If, in order to get that passed, we have to compromise in terms of a careful, well thought-out drilling strategy that was carefully circumscribed to avoid significant environmental damage — I don't want to be so rigid that we can't get something done."
If Obama wasn't The One, I'd be very suspicious and skeptical with all this flipping and flopping going on. And we all know that the good Senator Obama is a principled man who sticks by his convictions come what may. It's like he says, "The Republicans and the oil companies have been really beating the drums on drilling. And so we don't want gridlock. Or appear to be causing gridlock. If that means sacrificing heartfelt and long held convictions on the altar of expediency, well, the world will little note, nor long remember what is said today. Not even next week.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Obama Dollar

Barack Obama again warned about the kind of campaign John McCain will wage against him. When addressing supporters yesterday, Barry O said,

"What they're going to try to do is make you scared of me. You know, he's not patriotic enough, he's got a funny name, you know, he doesn't look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills."
When questioned about what he meant by the comment, O's spokesfolks were unclear, but were definite that the comment was not about anything untoward. So, lets compare a one dollar bill with Barry O's likeness and a five dollar bill with the likeness of Honest Abe.

Well, they look pretty much the same to me - two eyes, a mouth, and a nose centrally located. Okay, there are the ears. Obama has ears that would make Dumbo blush, but the placement is correct. So far, he looks essentially the same as any other guy on money, except maybe they were Presidents and are now dead while Barry O isn't.

Perhaps the difference can be found in what Barry O said last June.

"We know what kind of campaign they’re going to run. They’re going to try to make you afraid of me. ‘He’s young and inexperienced and he’s got a funny name. And did I mention he’s black?’"
OMG! He's black! Does he mean he doesn't look like the other guys because he's black?

Nah, that couldn't be what he's meaning. His campaign guys say so.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Melting Snows of Kilimanjaro

"As wide as all the world, great, high, and unbelievably white in the sun, was the square top of Mount Kilimanjaro" wrote Ernest Hemingway in The Snows of Kilimanjaro.

Kilimanjaro was once the jewel in the crown of Tanzania on the east coast of Africa, the dark continent that holds the keys to mankind's deepest mysteries and secrets. Kilimanjaro, perpetually shrouded in snow, perpetually shrouded in myth. Even the origin of the name "Kilimanjaro" is shrouded in mystery.

In Swahili, Kiswahili to native speakers, the word Kilima simply means 'small hill', and -najaro means 'greatness'. To the skilled people living in the plains at the foot of the mountain, njaro means 'caravan' in Kichagga. Ancient legends say that a fearsome demon named Njaro lives on the summit. The Waswahili have been driving caravans past the peak for several centuries and for them Kilimajyaro means 'landmark'.

Today, Kilimanjaro means the death of planet Earth. "The ice cap atop Mount Kilimanjaro, which for thousands of years has floated like a cool beacon over the shimmering equatorial plain of Tanzania, is retreating at such a pace that it will disappear in less than 15 years, according to new studies," reported The New York Times in 2001. Such a stir the article created that it is now a central tenet of the climate change religious faith that anthropogenic global warming is melting the snows of Kilimanjaro.

In language that would have made Steinbeck gag, the Times wrote, "The vanishing of the seemingly perpetual snows of Kilimanjaro that inspired Ernest Hemingway, echoed by similar trends on icecapped peaks from Peru to Tibet, is one of the clearest signs that a global warming in the last 50 years appears to have exceeded typical climate shifts."

The environazis are actually partially correct here. People are in a way contributing to the melting of the snow cap, but not by producing CO2, the dreaded carbon dioxide of footprint fame. The people living around the mountain have for several decades, been chopping down the trees and burning the savanna for farming and modern development. This natural flora had provided a watershed storage system that was evaporated in the hot African sun and rose to the heights of the mountain where it regularly fell as snow. Without the watershed, there is no snow even though the temperatures on the mountain remain very cold to below freezing.

For those who like numbers and graphs - oooooo, graaaaaphs - The World Climate Report has them and a better explanation of the process in a post entitled, "Back to Africa: Kilimanjaro Update".

This year, the bare naked mountain is a tourist draw for the wheelchair equipped. In June 2009, Paraplegic Superstar, Winter and Summer Paralympian, ex-Alpine Ski World Champion, Chris Waddel will make an attempt to reach the summit of Africa's highest peak.



The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

US House Apologizes for Slavery

The House of Representatives apologized Tuesday night to Blacks, African-Americans, Coloreds, Negroes - choose your favorite moniker - for slavery and the institutionalized discrimination under the Jim Crow Laws. In a mostly hollow gesture, Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), introduced the resolution which was more than 140 years after slavery was abolished in the United States.

Cohen is a white Jew representing a majority-black district in Memphis. Earlier this year, Cohen tried joining the Congressional Black Caucus, but was rebuffed for being the wrong color despite his constituency. In the August Democrat primary, Cohen is in a difficult race against African-American Nikki Tinker, an airline lawyer. "I hope that this is part of the beginning of a dialogue that this country needs to engage in, concerning what the effects of slavery and Jim Crow have been," said Cohen.

Cohen's resolution was co-sponsored by 42 members of the Congressional Black Caucus, including Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), the House majority whip; Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), chairman of the Judiciary Committee; and Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.), chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. None of those caucus members has endorsed his reelection bid. In all 120 Congressmen co-sponsored the apology resolution, amongst them were two Republicans.

Okay, we're sorry. We've said it. We, the White people of America, who never owned slaves, apologize to all the Black Americans who have never been slaves. Not a single Black American exists today who experienced slavery, although the memory of three generations ago persists. Most of the Whites in America have arrived in America during the great European migration of the 20th Century.

What's to be achieved with this apology resolution? No one is going to get 40 acres and a mule. There will be and should be no monetary reparations. We're sorry, now let it go.

If Black Americans truly want reparations, how about joining White Americans in attempting to end slavery as it exists today in Africa and many Muslim countries. This is a subject upon which the American Black community have been conspicuously silent. It would only be appropriate for American Blacks to free thousands or millions of their own cousins held in bondage in the countries dominated by Islam.

If not that, why not at least admit that the White Americans who kept American Blacks down were Democrats. It was the Republicans who first brought freedom to slaves and the later civil rights laws. Abraham Lincoln was a Republican. Martin Luther King was a Republican. The KKK was a Democrat group. Jesse Jackson is a Democrat. Connect the dots.

I've written before about the Black history Democrats don't want to be known. Further reading:

Black Americans Demand Democrat Party Apologize for Slavery
Reasons for Being a Republican
More History Democrats Don't Want You to Know
Republicans Have Never Done Any Good - Right?

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Here I am at No. 10 Downing Street

Senator Barack Obama, just a tourist, world citizen, and presumptuous Democrat presidential nominee, looking for 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Bevin Boys
Paul Sturgiss, tallest British teen
No. 10 Red Door at No. 10 Black Door
Tony Minister, former resident
Mark McGowan, artist, after pushing Monkey Nut several blocks with his nose.
Winston Churchill, WWII Prime Minister
John Manthorpe
Rosemary Clooney's nephew
Humphrey the Downing Street cat and Bobby
Jordan W
Downing Street goes green with CFL
Eli Manning, NFL quarterback
Bill McBain
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and PM Blair
Cleaning crew
Carole Caplin, secret masseuse to Tony Blair
She travelled more than 5000 miles to be photographed at No. 10 Downing Street. She found Downing Street alright, but couldn't find the right address. So close.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Obama Already at Work on Transition

Not yet the Democrat Party nominee for the presidency, and more than four months until the general election, Sen. Barack Obama has already directed his aides to start planning the transition from the Bush administration to the Obama administration as the 44th President of the United States of America.

With less than six months to go before he would be sworn in as the nation’s 44th president, Sen. Barack Obama has directed his aides to begin planning for the transition.

"Barack is well aware of the complexity and the organizational challenge involved in the transition process and he has tasked s small group to begin thinking through the process,” a senior campaign adviser said. "Barack has made his expectations clear about what he wants from such a process, how he wants it to move forward, and the establishment and execution of his timeline is proceeding apace."

A campaign spokesperson confirmed that transition planning had begun but would provide no further details. An adviser said that the campaign wants to keep the process as low profile as possible in order to minimize distractions.

A public announcement is planned for the fall.
Mark Ambinder, The Atlantic.

And they called George Bush arrogant and secretive. Before his party even elects him as their champion, Obama is traipsing around the world as if he were already the President and now he's planning his coronation inaugeration. On top of that, he has no plans to tell anyone outside of his inner circle until the fall which, I presume, means the autumn.

Hat tip to the blog Not Falling in Line, a pro-Hillary Clinton/ anti-Obama site. Many of the contributors intend voting for McCain if Obama truly is the nominee after the convention in Denver.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.