I Guess This is Progress

In the summer of 1949, a 17-year-old white girl named Norma Padgett accused four black men of kidnapping her from a dark road in central Florida and then, in the back seat of their car, taking turns raping her.

Within days of Padgett's accusations, three black men from the city of Groveland were in jail and a fourth, Ernest Thomas, was dead, shot and killed by an angry mob — led by [Sheriff] McCall — who had chased him 200 miles into the Panhandle. In Groveland, black-owned homes were shot up and burned, sparking chaos so intense the governor eventually sent in the National Guard.

Based on little evidence, a jury quickly convicted the living three.

Charles Greenlee, just 16 at the time, was sent to prison for life.

Samuel Shepherd and Walter Irvin, friends and Army veterans, were sentenced to death, but the U.S. Supreme Court later overturned their convictions and ordered a retrial. Before that could happen, though, McCall shot them both. Shepherd died at the scene, but Irvin — who played dead — survived, and his sentence was later commuted to life in prison.

Washington Post: “We're truly sorry”: Fla apologizes for racial injustice of 1949 ‘Groveland Four’ rape case

Some decades later…

Fear gripped the small town of Denison, Tex., after 18-year-old Breana Harmon Talbott burst into a church on a Wednesday night, bleeding and wearing only a shirt, bra and underwear. She said that three black men in ski masks had kidnapped her.

On Wednesday, nearly two weeks after Talbott burst into the church, police said called her story a “hoax” and the allegations deemed “officially UNFOUNDED.” In a statement, the police chief admonished Talbott for the turmoil she caused in the community and for making offensive claims about African Americans.

“The so-called victim in the case confessed to the hoax last evening (March 21) to a member of the investigative team working the case,” read a news release by the Denison Police Chief Jay Burch. “Talbott’s hoax was also insulting to our community and especially offensive to the African-American community due to her description of the so-called suspects in her hoax.”

Washington Post: ‘Hoax’: Texas teen made up widely publicized story of being kidnapped, raped by 3 black men, police say

Exxon knew of climate change in 1981, email says – but it funded deniers for 27 more years | Environment | The Guardian

ExxonMobil, the world’s biggest oil company, knew as early as 1981 of climate change — seven years before it became a public issue, according to a newly discovered email from one of the firm’s own scientists. Despite this the firm spent millions over the next 27 years to promote climate denial.

Exxon knew of climate change in 1981, email says — but it funded deniers for 27 more years | Environment | The Guardian

Disconnecting

New York is so hyper-connected that people check their email in the shower, but there some renegade Gothamites who don't own — and never use — a cell phone.

— NY Daily News: New Yorkers are hanging up cell phones and plugging into landlines

I’ve said it before: I don’t think being constantly connected is a good thing. I’m under no illusion that there is a real trend away from heavy use of smartphones, but maybe there should be.