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The International Labor Defenses ILD involvement in the Scottsboro case more than any other event crystallized black support for the radical political movements especially the Communist Party in the 1930s Accused of raping two white women Ruby Bates and Victoria Price on a freight train near Paint Rock Alabama nine young black men Charlie Weems Ozie Powell Clarence Norris Olen Montgomery Willie Roberson Haywood Patterson Andy and Roy Wright Eugene Williams ages thirteen to twenty-one were arrested on March 25 1931 tried without adequate counsel and hastily convicted on the basis of shallow evidence All but Roy Wright were sentenced to death Already in the midst of a mass anti-lynching campaign begun a year earlier the ILD gained the confidence of the defendants and their parents initiated a legal and political campaign for their freedom and in the process waged a vicious battle for control over the case with the NAACP who accused the Communists of using the young men for propaganda purposes The Scottsboro case was not simply an isolated instance of injustice the Communists argued but represented a common manifestation of national oppression and class rule in the South Maintaining that a fair and impartial trial was impossible the Party and its auxiliaries publicized the case widely in order to apply mass pressure on the Alabama justice system Protests erupted throughout the country and as far away as Paris Moscow and South Africa and the governor of Alabama was bombarded with telegrams postcards and letters demanding the immediate release of the Scottsboro Boys Through Scottsboro and other related cases black and white Communists gained entrance into churches lodges and clubs in the African-American community and eventually the ILD was regarded by some as a welcome addition to the panoply of racial defense organizations Moreover although the Scottsboro Boys the defendants were denied the right of counsel For the new Scottsboro trials whichopened on March 27 1933 the ILD had retained renowned criminal lawyer
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