1835 — Treaty of New Echota signed. This treaty ceded all Cherokee land east of the Mississippi River to the U.S. government. The treaty was signed by a minority faction within the tribe, while the majority opposed it. There had been a push for Cherokee land in Georgia for a number of years. President John Quincy Adams supported Indian sovereignty so their land was protected. That changed when Andrew Jackson was elected. In the original document that the Cherokee signed, any Indian that wanted to remain would be given 160 acres of land and allowed to become a citizen of the state of Georgia. Jackson struck that clause from the document before he signed it. The U.S. Senate ratified it by one vote and the Indians’ fate was sealed. Their forced removal began in 1838 and would ultimately become known as the “Trail of Tears.”
The Trail of Tears is just one section of the road that led America to its heralded greatness.
1890 — Wounded Knee Massacre. At Wounded Knee Creek, 150 men, women, and children of the Lakota Sioux were killed by the U.S. Army. The actual number killed may be higher than that. Massacre is the proper term although it has often been referred to as a battle. To further validate that perception the army awarded 20 Medals of Honor to soldiers for shooting down mostly unarmed Indians.
As if the Trail of Tears wasn’t merciless enough.
1975 — Bombing at LaGuardia airport. 11 people were killed and 74 injured when a bomb exploded in the baggage claims area of the airport. The case has never been solved leaving open all kinds of theories. Croatian terrorists were one. How a bombing in NYC would help in seeking separation from Communist Yugoslavia remains murky. Equally weak is the theory that Communist Yugoslavia planted the bomb to make the Croatians look bad. The PLO and Puerto Rican nationalists were also suspects. The misguided intention behind most bombings is to bring attention to a cause. But in this instance no one ever claimed responsibility. The FBI took over the investigation from the New York Police Department and since then has released no information. This has furthered speculation toward conspiracy, that the FBI is withholding information. Whatever the real facts are, it remains a cold case.
I have been a news junkie my whole life. So it is strange that I have no memory of this incident at all. Maybe I was wrapped up in some of my own personal drama at that time.
1917 — Tom Bradley. Mayor of Los Angeles from 1973 to 1992, he served longer than anyone else, and he also is the only African-American mayor the city has had. Bradley got his law degree while also working as a Los Angeles police officer, then served on the city council before being elected mayor. Some of the accomplishments during his term were the 1984 Summer Olympics, expansion of the Los Angeles International airport, development of a light rail system and the city’s first homosexual rights bill. Criticism of his handling of the riots relating to the Rodney King incident helped bring about his eventual defeat. In his first run at mayor in 1969 Bradley was beaten by incumbent Sam Yorty who played the race card. Finding success with that tactic Democrat Yorty switched to the Republican Party.
No need commenting on the obvious.
1953 — Stanly Tokie Williams. Co-founder of the street gang The Crips. Williams led a violence filled life and in 1979 was convicted of four murders and sentenced to death. On death row for 26 years, he proclaimed his innocence the whole while. Those arguing for clemency maintained he had found redemption while in prison. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger rejected that argument and all appeals and Williams was put to death on December 13, 2005, by lethal injection. In a radio interview just hours before his execution, Williams made this rather eloquent statement.
“My lack of fear of this barbaric methodology of death, I rely upon my faith. It has nothing to do with machismo, with manhood, or with some pseudo former gang street code. This is pure faith, and predicated on my redemption. So, therefore, I just stand strong and continue to tell you, your audience, and the world that I am innocent and, yes, I have been a wretched person, but I have redeemed myself. And I say to you and all those who can listen and will listen that redemption is tailor-made for the wretched, and that’s what I used to be… That’s what I would like the world to remember me. That’s how I would like my legacy to be remembered as: a redemptive transition, something that I believe is not exclusive just for the so-called sanctimonious, the elitists. And it doesn’t — is not predicated on color or race or social stratum or one’s religious background. It’s accessible for everybody. That’s the beauty about it. And whether others choose to believe that I have redeemed myself or not, I worry not, because I know and God knows, and you can believe that all of the youths that I continue to help, they know, too. So with that, I am grateful… I say to you and everyone else, God bless. So take care.”
Even assuming guilt without a reasonable doubt, quite often the person being executed is no longer the person who committed the crime.
1966 — Jason Gould. Son of Eliot Gould and Barbra Streisand.
1985 — Alexa Ray Joel. Daughter of Billy Joel and Christie Brinkley.
Both recognized artists in their own right…maybe. That is the blessing and curse of having celebrity parents. The doors open more easily, but will they ever be truly recognized for their talents.