Executed But Possibly Innocent

There is no way to tell how many of the over 1,000 people executed since 1976 may also have been innocent. Courts do not generally entertain claims of innocence when the defendant is dead. Defense attorneys move on to other cases where clients' lives can still be saved. Some cases with strong evidence of innocence include:

Carlos DeLuna Texas Conviction: 1983, Executed: 1989
Ruben Cantu Texas Convicted: 1985, Executed: 1993
Larry Griffin Missouri Conviction: 1981, Executed: 1995
Joseph O'Dell Virginia Conviction: 1986, Executed: 1997
David Spence Texas Conviction: 1984, Executed: 1997
Leo Jones Florida Convicted: 1981, Executed: 1998
Gary Graham Texas Convicted: 1981, Executed: 2000,
Claude Jones Texas Convicted 1989, Executed 2000
Cameron Willingham Texas Convicted: 1992, Executed: 2004
Troy Davis   Georgia   Convicted 1991  Executed 2011

 Also Noted - Post-humous pardons and new information about people who may have been wrongfully executed prior to 1976.


Carlos DeLuna Texas Conviction: 1983, Executed: 1989
A Chicago Tribune investigation released in 2006 revealed groundbreaking evidence that Texas may have executed an innocent man in 1989. The defendant, Carlos DeLuna, was executed for the fatal stabbing of Texas convenience store clerk Wanda Lopez in 1983. New evidence uncovered by reporters Maurice Possley and Steve Mills casts doubt on DeLuna’s guilt and points towards another man, Carlos Hernandez, who had a record of similar crimes and repeatedly confessed to the murder. A news piece aired on ABC’s "World News Tonight” also covered this story.

The new evidence casted strong doubt on DeLuna’s guilt. This is the fourth investigation in the past two years pointing to the execution of a probably innocent man. Similar questions have been raised in the cases of Cameron Todd Willingham and Ruben Cantu in Texas, and Larry Griffin in Missouri.

See Professor James Liebman's investigation, "Los Tocayos Carlos: Anatomy of a Wrongful Execution" (2012)
See the Chicago Tribune's Investigation, "Did This Man Die...for This Man's Crime?"


Ruben Cantu Texas Convicted: 1985, Executed: 1993
A two-part investigative series by the Houston Chronicle casts serious doubt on the guilt of a Texas man who was executed in 1993. Ruben Cantu had persistently proclaimed his innocence and was only 17 when he was charged with capital murder for the shooting death of a San Antonio man during an attempted robbery. Now, the prosecutor and the jury forewoman have expressed doubts about the case. Moreover, both a key eyewitness in the state's case against Cantu and Cantu's co-defendant have come forward to say that Texas executed an innocent man.

Juan Moreno, who was wounded during the attempted robbery and was a key eyewitness in the case against Cantu, now says that it was not Cantu who shot him and that he only identified Cantu as the shooter because he felt pressured and was afraid of the authorities. Moreno said that he twice told police that Cantu was not his assailant, but that the authorities continued to pressure him to identify Cantu as the shooter after Cantu was involved in an unrelated wounding of a police officer. "The police were sure it was (Cantu) because he had hurt a police officer. They told me they were certain it was him, and that's why I testified. . . . That was bad to blame someone that was not there," Moreno told the Chronicle.

In addition, David Garza, Cantu's co-defendant during his 1985 trial, recently signed a sworn affidavit saying that he allowed Cantu to be accused and executed even though he wasn't with him on the night of the killing. Garza stated, "Part of me died when he died. You've got a 17-year-old who went to his grave for something he did not do. Texas murdered an innocent person."

Sam D. Millsap, Jr., the Bexar County District Attorney who charged Cantu with capital murder, said he never should have sought the death penalty in a case based on testimony from an eyewitness who identified a suspect only after police showed him Cantu's photo three seperate times.

Miriam Ward, forewoman of the jury that convicted Cantu, said the jury's decision was the best they could do based on the information presented during the trial. She noted, "With a little extra work, a little extra effort, maybe we'd have gotten the right information. The bottom line is, an innocent person was put to death for it. We all have our finger in that." (Houston Chronicle, November 20 & 21, 2005 and Associated Press, November 21, 2005).

Read "Did Texas Execute An Innocent Man?" by Lise Olsen, Houston Chronicle (2005)
Watch "Did Texas Execute Innocent Men?" - Dan Rather Reports reveals new details surrounding two capital murder cases in Texas - leading to the executions of Ruben Cantu and Carlos De Luna that may have occurred as the result of flawed evidence (September 2007).

UPDATE: Bexar County District Attorney Susan Reed issued a report in 2007 finding that Ruben Cantu was guilty of the crime for which Texas executed him in 1993. However, critics have noted that Reed was formerly a judge who handled Cantu's appeal and set his execution date, raising a conflict of interest in conducing an investigation of his guilt. For more information see: "Report Fails to Erase Doubt that Texas Executed an Innocent Man."


Larry Griffin Missouri Conviction: 1981, Executed: 1995
A year-long investigation by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund has uncovered evidence that Larry Griffin may have been innocent of the crime for which he was executed by the state of Missouri on June 21, 1995. Griffin maintained his innocence until his death, and investigators say his case is the strongest demonstration yet of an execution of an innocent man. The report notes that a man injured in the same drive-by shooting that claimed the life of Quintin Moss says Griffin was not involved in the crime, and the first police officer on the scene has given a new account that undermines the trial testimony of the only witness who identified Griffin as the murderer. Based on its findings, the NAACP has supplied the prosecution with the names of three men it suspects committed the crime, and all three of the suspects are currently in jail for other murders. Prosecutor Jennifer Joyce said she has reopened the investigation and will conduct a comprehensive review of the case over the next few months. "There is no real doubt that we have an innocent person. If we could go to trial on this case, if there was a forum where we could take this to trial, we would win hands down," stated University of Michigan law professor Samuel Gross, who supervised the investigation into Griffin's case. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 11, 2005).

See "NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Report on Larry Griffin"
Listen to "Missouri Execution Case Reopened" from NPR: All Things Considered (July 12, 2005)
Read "Did Missouri Execute An Innocent Man?" by Associated Press (July 12, 2005)

UPDATE: On July 12, 2007 the St. Louis Circuit Attorney concluded that Larry Griffin was guilty after an extensive review.

Circuit Attorney report: Summary
Circuit Attorney report: Factual and legal history
Circuit Attorney report: Appellate process
Circuit Attorney report: Investigative findings, analysis and conclusions
Circuit Attorney report: Appendix A through C
Circuit Attorney report: Appendix D through G


 Joseph O'Dell Virginia Conviction: 1986, Executed: 1997
New DNA blood evidence has thrown considerable doubt on the murder and rape conviction of O'Dell. In reviewing his case in 1991, three Supreme Court Justices, said they had doubts about O'Dell's guilt and whether he should have been allowed to represent himself. Without the blood evidence, there is little linking O'Dell to the crime. In September, 1996, the 4th Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals reinstated his death sentence and upheld his conviction. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to review O'Dell's claims of innocence and held that its decision regarding juries being told about the alternative sentence of life-without-parole was not retroactive to his case. O'Dell asked the state to conduct DNA tests on other pieces of evidence to demonstrate his innocence but was refused. He was executed on July 23rd.

Read "Virginia Inmate Executed Despite International Campaign" by CNN (July 23, 1997)
See "Commonwealth v. Joseph O'Dell: Truth and Justice or Confuse the Courts? The DNA Controversy"by Lori Urs, New England School of Law: Journal on Criminal and Civil Confinement (Winter 1999)


David Spence Texas Conviction: 1984, Executed: 1997
Spence was charged with murdering three teenagers in 1982. He was allegedly hired by a convenience store owner to kill another girl, and killed these victims by mistake. The convenience store owner, Muneer Deeb, was originally convicted and sentenced to death, but then was acquitted at a re-trial. The police lieutenant who supervised the investigation of Spence, Marvin Horton, later concluded: "I do not think David Spence committed this crime." Ramon Salinas, the homicide detective who actually conducted the investigation, said: "My opinion is that David Spence was innocent. Nothing from the investigation ever led us to any evidence that he was involved." No physical evidence connected Spence to the crime. The case against Spence was pursued by a zealous narcotics cop who relied on testimony of prison inmates who were granted favors in return for testimony.

Read "A Closer Look at Five Cases That Resulted in Executions of Texas Inmates" by Raymond Bonner and Sara Rimer, New York Times (May 14, 2000)
See The Muneer Deeb Case


Leo Jones Florida Convicted: 1981, Executed: 1998
Jones was convicted of murdering a police officer in Jacksonville, Florida. Jones signed a confession after several hours of police interrogation, but he later claimed the confession was coerced. In the mid-1980s, the policeman who arrested Jones and the detective who took his confession were forced out of uniform for ethical violations. The policeman was later identified by a fellow officer as an "enforcer" who had used torture. Many witnesses came forward pointing to another suspect in the case.

Read "Questions of Innocence: Legal Roadblocks Thwart New Evidence on Appeal" by Steve Mills, Chicago Tribune (December 18, 2000)

 

 


Gary Graham Texas Convicted: 1981, Executed: 2000
On June 23, 2000, Gary Graham was executed in Texas, despite claims that he was innocent. Graham was 17 when he was charged with the 1981 robbery and shooting of Bobby Lambert outside a Houston supermarket. He was convicted primarily on the testimony of one witness, Bernadine Skillern, who said she saw the killer's face for a few seconds through her car windshield, from a distance of 30-40 feet away. Two other witnesses, both who worked at the grocery store and said they got a good look at the assailant, said Graham was not the killer but were never interviewed by Graham's court appointed attorney, Ronald Mock, and were not called to testify at trial. Three of the jurors who voted to convict Graham signed affidavits saying they would have voted differently had all of the evidence been available.

See "Guilt of Texas Inmate Gary Graham Debated as Execution Draws Near" by CNN (June 21, 2000)
Read "Death Row Man Executed" by BBC News (June 23, 2000)
See DPIC's Capital Punishment in Context: The Case of Gary Graham


Claude Jones Texas Convicted 1989  Executed 2000

Recent DNA tests raise serious doubts about the conviction of a man executed in Texas in 2000.  The tests revealed that a strand of hair found at the scene of a liquor-store shooting did not belong to Claude Jones, as was originally implied by the prosecution.  Instead, the hair belonged to the victim.  Jones was executed for the murder of the store's owner. The strand of hair was the only piece of physical evidence that placed Jones at the scene of the crime, and this revelation raises the question of whether Texas executed the wrong person for the murder. Before his execution in 2000, Jones’s lawyers filed petitions for a stay with both a district court and with the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, requesting that the strand of hair be submitted for DNA testing. The necessary DNA technology had not been developed at the time the crime in 1989, but was available in 2000. Both courts, along with then-Governor George W. Bush, denied Jones a stay of execution.  Apparently, Gov. Bush was not even informed by his clemency advisors about the request for the DNA test.  Barry Scheck, co-founder of the Innocence Project, said “The DNA results prove that testimony about the hair sample on which this entire case rests was just wrong. Unreliable forensic science and a completely inadequate post-conviction review process cost Claude Jones his life.”

In 2007, the Innocence Project, along with the Texas Observer, the Innocence Project of Texas and the Texas Innocence Network filed a lawsuit to obtain the hair for DNA testing. This year, Judge Paul Murphy ruled in favor of the Observer and the innocence groups and ordered prosecutors to turn over the evidence for DNA testing. Duane Jones, Claude Jones’s son, said, “Knowing that these DNA results support his innocence means so much to me, my son in the military and the rest of my family. I hope these results will serve as a wakeup call to everyone that serious problems exist in the criminal justice system that must be fixed if our society is to continue using the death penalty.”  Jones was one of the last inmates executed before Gov. Bush left office to become President.

(D. Mann, "Texas Observer Exclusive: DNA Tests Undermine Evidence in Texas Execution," Texas Observer, November 11, 2010). 


Cameron Willingham Texas Convicted: 1992, Executed: 2004
After examining evidence from the capital prosecution of Cameron Willingham, four national arson experts have concluded that the original investigation of Willingham's case was flawed, and it is possible the fire was accidental. The independent investigation, reported by the Chicago Tribune, found that prosecutors and arson investigators used arson theories that have since been repudiated by scientific advances. Willingham was executed in 2004 in Texas despite his consistent claims of innocence. He was convicted of murdering his three children in a 1991 house fire.

Arson expert Gerald Hurst said, "There's nothing to suggest to any reasonable arson investigator that this was an arson fire. It was just a fire." Former Louisiana State University fire instructor Kendall Ryland added, "[It] made me sick to think this guy was executed based on this investigation.... They executed this guy and they've just got no idea - at least not scientifically - if he set the fire, or if the fire was even intentionally set."

Willingham was convicted of capital murder after arson investigators concluded that 20 indicators of arson led them to believe that an accelerent had been used to set three separate fires inside his home. Among the only other evidence presented by prosecutors during the the trial was testimony from jailhouse snitch Johnny E. Webb, a drug addict on psychiatric medication, who claimed Willingham had confessed to him in the county jail.

Some of the jurors who convicted Willingham were troubled when told of the new case review. Juror Dorinda Brokofsky asked, "Did anybody know about this prior to his execution? Now I will have to live with this for the rest of my life. Maybe this man was innocent." Prior to the execution, Willingham's defense attorneys presented expert testimony regarding the new arson investigation to the state's highest court, as well as to Texas Governor Rick Perry. No relief was granted and Willingham was executed on February 17, 2004. Coincidentally, less than a year after Willingham's execution, arson evidence presented by some of the same experts who had appealed for relief in Willingham's case helped free Ernest Willis from Texas's death row. The experts noted that the evidence in the Willingham case was nearly identical to the evidence used to exonerate Willis. (Chicago Tribune, December 9, 2004).

Read "Texas Man Executed on Disproved Forensics" by Steve Mills and Maurice Possley, Chicago Tribune (December 9, 2004)
Read "Was an Innocent Man Executed in Texas?" by Anderson Cooper 360 Blog (April 9, 2007)
See also The Ernest Willis Case

Troy Davis   Georgia   Convicted 1991  Executed 2011

After a hearing on September 19, the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles denied clemency to Troy Davis, despite presentation of testimony casting doubt on his guilt.  Brian Kammer, one of Davis's attorneys, said, "I am utterly shocked and disappointed at the failure of our justice system at all levels to correct a miscarriage of justice." Davis's claims of innocence have received international attention, and calls for clemency have been made by Pope Benedict XVI, former President Jimmy Carter, former FBI Director William Sessions, former Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Norman Fletcher and others. Doubts about Davis's guilt were raised when some prosecution witnesses changed their stories after giving testimony against Davis, including accusations pointing to another suspect as the murderer of a police officer in Savannah. The Board heard testimony from a juror in Davis's original trial who now says she has too much doubt about his guilt and would change her verdict.  They also heard from a witness who originally testified against Davis, but has since recanted her testimony, and from Davis's family.  The Board had held two previous clemency hearings for Davis, but the makeup of the Board had changed since he was denied clemency in 2008, and new testimony had been given at a federal court hearing in 2010.  UPDATE: Davis was executed late on the night of Sept. 21, 2011.  The U.S. Supreme Court delayed the execution to consider final appeals, but then denied as stay.

Also Noted:

Colorado Governor Grants Unconditional Pardon Based on Innocence to Inmate Who Was Executed

On January 7, Colorado Governor Bill Ritter granted a full and unconditional posthumous pardon to Joe Arridy, who had been convicted and executed as an accomplice to a murder that occurred in 1936. The pardon came 72 years after Arridy’s execution and is the first such pardon in Colorado history.  A press release from the governor's office stated, "[A]n overwhelming body of evidence indicates the 23-year-old Arridy was innocent, including false and coerced confessions, the likelihood that Arridy was not in Pueblo at the time of the killing, and an admission of guilt by someone else."  The governor also pointed to Arridy's intellectual disabilities.  He had an IQ of 46 and functioned like a toddler.  The governor said, “Granting a posthumous pardon is an extraordinary remedy.  But the tragic conviction of Mr. Arridy and his subsequent execution on Jan. 6, 1939, merit such relief based on the great likelihood that Mr. Arridy was, in fact, innocent of the crime for which he was executed, and his severe mental disability at the time of his trial and execution. Pardoning Mr. Arridy cannot undo this tragic event in Colorado history. It is in the interests of justice and simple decency, however, to restore his good name.”

The governor's press release gives significant credit to Mr. Arridy's attorney, David Martinez: "The request for Arridy’s pardon was brought to Gov. Ritter by local attorney David A. Martinez, who has spent years researching the case."

("72 Years after Execution, a Posthumous Pardon," 9News.com, January 8, 2011).  Read Gov. Ritter's statement of pardon.  See Innocence, Clemency, and Intellectual Disabilitiy.

South Carolina Pair Exonerated 94 Years After Execution - The South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services voted 7-0 to pardon Thomas Griffin and Meeks Griffin for the 1913 murder of former Confederate Army veteran John Q . Lewis. The pair were executed in 1915 for the murder after another man, Monk Stephenson, plead guilty and received a life sentence in exchange for implicating the Griffins. "Stevenson later told a fellow inmate that he had implicated the Griffin brothers because he believed they were wealthy enough to pay for legal counsel, and as such would be acquitted," said legal historian Paul Finkelman. Two others, Nelson Brice and John Crosby, were also executed for the crime. The pair were great uncles of nationally syndicated radio show host Tom Joyner. "It's good for the community. It's good for the nation. Anytime that you can repair racism in this country is a step forward," Joyner said. (CNN.com, October 15, 2009).  See also Race and Innocence.

Georgia Board to Pardon Woman 60 Years After Her Execution - The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles has announced that it will issue a formal pardon this month for Lena Baker (pictured), the only woman executed in the state during the 20th century. The document, signed by all five of the current board members, will note that the parole board's 1945 decision to deny Baker clemency and allow her execution was "a grievous error, as this case called out for mercy." Baker, an African American, was executed for the murder of Ernest Knight, a white man who hired her . Baker was tried, convicted, and sentenced to die in one day by an all-white, all-male jury. Baker claimed she shot Knight in self-defense after he locked her in his gristmill and threatened her with a metal pipe. The pardon notes that Baker "could have been charged with voluntary manslaughter, rather than murder, for the death of E.B. Knight." The average sentence for voluntary manslaughter is 15 years in prison. Baker's picture and her last words are currently displayed near the retired electric chair at a museum at Georgia State Prison in Reidsville. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, August 16, 2005). See Race, Clemency and Women.


New Evidence: The Case of Joe Hill, Labor Organizer Executed in Utah in 1915

New York Times, August 26, 2011
Examining a Labor Hero’s Death
By STEVEN GREENHOUSE
   At Woodstock, Joan Baez sang a famous folk ballad celebrating Joe Hill, the itinerant miner, songwriter and union activist who was executed by a Utah firing squad in 1915. “I never died, said he” is the song’s refrain.
   Hill’s status as a labor icon and the debate about his conviction certainly never died. And now a new biography makes the strongest case yet that Hill was wrongfully convicted of murdering a local grocer, the charge that led to his execution at age 36.
   The book’s author, William M. Adler, argues that Hill was a victim of authorities and a jury eager to deal a blow to his radical labor union, as well as his own desire to protect the identity of his sweetheart.
   A Salt Lake City jury convicted Hill largely because of one piece of circumstantial evidence: he had suffered a gunshot wound to the chest on the same night — Jan. 10, 1914 — that the grocer and his son were killed. At the trial, prosecutors argued that he had been shot by the grocer’s son, and Hill refused to offer any alternative explanation.
   Mr. Adler uncovered a long-forgotten letter from Hill’s sweetheart that said that he had been shot by a rival for her affections, undermining the prosecution’s key assertion. The book, “The Man Who Never Died,” also offers extensive evidence suggesting that an early suspect in the case, a violent career criminal, was the murderer.
   Hill, who bounced around the West as a miner, longshoreman and union organizer, was the leading songwriter for the Industrial Workers of the World, also known as the Wobblies, a prominent union that was widely feared and deplored for its militant tactics. He penned dozens of songs that excoriated bosses and capitalism and wrote the well-known lyric “You’ll get pie in the sky when you die.”
   His conviction was so controversial that President Woodrow Wilson twice wrote to Utah’s governor to urge him to spare Hill’s life, and unions as far away as Australia protested on his behalf.
   After his death, Hill was immortalized in poetry and song, including the 1936 ballad embraced by Ms. Baez, Pete Seeger, Paul Robeson and others: “I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night.”
   In the letter found by Mr. Adler, Hill’s sweetheart, Hilda Erickson, wrote that Hill had told her he had been shot by her former fiancé, Otto Appelquist — someone she had broken off with a week earlier and who had asked her “if I liked Joe better than him.” In her letter, she added, “I heard Joe tease Otto once that he was going to take me away from him.”
   Historians say the letter is groundbreaking because it is apparently the first time anyone has stepped forward to explain exactly how and why Hill was shot. Neither Hill nor Ms. Erickson testified at his trial, although Hill did tell the doctor who treated his wound that a rival suitor had shot him.
   The prosecution maintained that Hill had been shot by the grocer’s son, even though the police never found any bullet cartridges or traces of blood, other than the victims’, at the murder scene. Prosecutors used Hill’s silence to persuade jurors that he must have murdered the grocer.
   Ms. Erickson wrote the letter in 1949 to Aubrey Haan, a professor who was researching a book on Hill. The book was never published, and Mr. Adler found the letter in papers stored in the professor’s daughter’s attic.
   “When I first read the letter, it was a ‘holy cow’ moment because all these years people wondered about what happened that night,” Mr. Adler said in an interview.
   In his book, which Bloomsbury will publish on Tuesday, Mr. Adler also lays out what historians say is highly incriminating new information about the person police originally suspected of the two murders, Frank Z. Wilson.
   The police arrested Mr. Wilson the night of the murders after they found him walking without an overcoat near the grocery. They also found a bloody handkerchief on him. 
   Mr. Adler said Mr. Wilson had lied repeatedly to the authorities after they arrested him, but they soon released him for reasons that remain unclear. Mr. Adler also discovered that Mr. Wilson had used at least 16 aliases during his many arrests and convictions, several for robbing trains. He was later involved in the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in Chicago in 1929, with a getaway car registered under an alias he often used.
   “His research is just incredible — it expands what we know in really dramatic ways,” said John R. Sillito, co-author of a new book on radicalism in Utah and a retired archivist at Weber State University in Ogden. “It builds a strong case that Wilson should have been the prime suspect.”
   Hill declined to testify at his trial, standing on the principle that he should not have to prove his innocence, especially when he believed that the prosecution could not possibly prove he was guilty with the limited evidence it had.
   Mr. Adler’s book suggests that Hill also did not testify partly because he wanted to safeguard Ms. Erickson’s privacy. She was in her early 20s at the time, the niece of the two Swedish brothers he was boarding with.
   Rolf Hagglund, a grandnephew of Hill’s who lives in Stockholm, has read galleys of the new book and welcomed its findings.   “From the start, people knew he was set up,” Mr. Hagglund said in a telephone interview. “This book presents the strongest case so far that there was an alternative shooter and how Joe was shot and why he was shot.” (Hill immigrated to the United States from Sweden in 1902, changing his name from the original, Joel Hagglund.)
   But John Arling Morrison, a grandson of the murdered grocer, put little stock in Mr. Adler’s findings. “Joe Hill was the one who murdered our grandfather and destroyed the economy of our family,” said Mr. Morrison.
   Mr. Adler, a Denver resident, decided to write about Hill after reading Bob Dylan’s “Chronicles,” which argued that the Hill case was a miscarriage of justice.
“Initially I saw the book as a murder mystery, and I saw myself in the role of gumshoe,” Mr. Adler said. “I also wanted to explore how Hill went from being an anonymous worker to finding his voice as a songwriter to becoming a working-class hero to becoming, ultimately, a martyr.”
   Like many historians, Gibbs M. Smith, author of a Hill biography, said the trial was unfair. “Under today’s laws of evidence, he never would have been convicted and executed,” Mr. Smith said. Historians have observed that the judge unjustifiably ruled against Hill on evidentiary questions and that the prosecution coached witnesses to say they saw Hill near the grocery that night.
   Some students of the case say one reason for Hill’s silence may have been a belief that he could do more for labor’s cause as a martyr than alive. At the time, the I.W.W. had fewer than 20,000 members, but it was detested by business leaders because it pushed miners, lumberjacks and railway workers to use strikes, slowdowns and sabotage to pressure employers to improve pay and conditions.
   Shortly before his execution, Hill wrote supporters an emotional note, saying, “Don’t waste time mourning, organize,” which later became the union catchphrase, “Don’t Mourn, Organize.”
 

 

 

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