Angry Mob Never Convicted After Beating, Shooting Willie Earle In 1947Not all of the history of the Upstate is proud history but it is still history none the less. I believe some things should not be forgotten as we can learn from the past and move forward in a more positive and productive way. That is the case from the following story posted on the WYFF News 4 web page by
GREENVILLE, S.C. — History records list the 1947 lynching of Willie Earle as an unsolved murder. Earle was arrested and jailed as a suspect in the murder of a white cab driver in February of that year. A few days after being thrown in jail, an angry mob went there, took Earle out and beat and shot him to death on Bramlett Road.
Strom Thurmond was governor at the time and promised swift justice. Twenty-eight cab drivers were quickly arrested and put on trial at the old Greenville County Courthouse in downtown Greenville. Historians wrote that the cab drivers signed confessions and even bragged about what they did. After a two-week trial in front of an all white jury, the cab drivers were found not guilty and acquitted on all charges. The lynching and court case have now become one of the most notorious crimes and controversial court decisions in the city’s history.
On Thursday, two historical markers will be unveiled in honor of Earle and speak of what many called the unjust treatment he received. The unveiling of the markers will take place at 10 a.m. at the downtown Hughes Library. Then the markers will be placed at the old Greenville County Courthouse on Main Street and the other on Bramlett Road.Organizers of the event said several members of Earle’s family will be at the ceremony, as will historians, lawmakers and pastors.
Sean Muserallo, WYFF News 4 Digital Reporter