NYU Black Renaissance Noire NYU Black Renaissance Noire V. 16.1 - Page 43

The Federation moved ahead with the petition drive. Clinton began broadcasts over the radio. By early June, 60,000 signatures had been collected of which two-thirds (or 40,000) were valid. The Federation drafted a platform for an anti-Shaw candidate to run on. The Federation sent out a letter from the Federation’s chairman, Leonard Oechsli, to pastors denying rumors that the recall drive was fading. The Eagle reported to its readers the recall had fizzled. 38 The Shaw regime saw the handwriting on the wall and changed tactics in mid-stream. Shaw undertook a sweeping reorganization of the police department, after the City Council began to distance itself from the Mayor. The police board of inquiry held hearings with officers who had refused to testify before the grand jury and at the Kynette-Allen trial. After the hearing, all were reinstated. The Police Commission passed a regulation making it the duty of every officer to give testimony in response to all questions duly propounded to them before the grand jury. Refusal to do so amounted to conduct unbecoming an officer. When the 120,000 signatures were filed with the City Clerk, an irked Shaw claimed the recall campaign was promoted by “so-called pious men who have accepted money from racketeers in sanctimonious secrecy.” 40 BLACK RENAISSANCE NOIRE The Shaw regime actively opposed the recall effort. Volunteers were threatened and insulted. Clayton Stovall of Newton Street Vice threatened Baron Lawson, a black worker for civic, as Lawson was collecting signatures. Stovall and Sweetnam tipped off vice dens that civic would make a raid. When James M. Jones, a black newspaper editor, expressed support for the recall and called for the ouster of Sweetnam, he was beaten, and shortly thereafter he was jailed for operating an illegal employment agency. Jones eventually sued Mayor Shaw and his brother Joe, and Sweetnam for false arrest. In the several self-appointed extra-legal committees formed for the expressed purposes of ‘blowing the lid’ off the city’s political cauldron, exactly nothing has been accomplished to substantiate the claims of the crusaders or to justify the shocking loss of faith in elected officials caused by their wild tooting of unconfirmed statements and unestablished facts. 37 The conviction of Kynette-Allen for the Raymond bombing in early June changed the dynamic of the recall campaign. Mass meetings were held to sign petitions. Within seventeen days following the conviction, 98,000 signatures had been collected of which 55,0000 were valid. Before the conviction, only 30% of those contacted signed the petitions, which i ncreased to 75%, after the conviction. Three thousand attended an anti-Shaw rally on June 29th at the Philharmonic Auditorium with thousands turned away, because of no room. By the middle of July, 120,000 signatures had been filed with the City Clerk. Enough were valid to set a recall election for September 16, 1938. 39 41 In order to recall Shaw, the Federation needed at least 66,326 signatures or twenty percent of the qualified voters in the previous general election. The Federation used a combination of volunteers and paid solicitors to gather signatures. Initially, the gathering of signatures went slowly. The Federation had to rely on a $3,000 personal note from Clinton to fund the campaign. The professional solicitors who earned 4 cents for each signature were discouraged by the slow pace of the drive. Mass meetings were organized in churches on Sundays to get members to sign. The Shaw administration tried to censor the recall movement by pressuring radio stations to deny speakers access to the airwaves. There was also opposition from Mrs. Bass at the Eagle. In her column “On the Sidewalk” she wrote: “I am thoroughly convinced …that the highest purpose of this campaign to ‘clean-up’ Los Angeles is not motivated by the best principles, either on the part of Mr. Clinton, Mr. Jones, or the Assembly Interim Committee, or any of the Negro stool pigeons.” She elaborated further in the same column: