Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech News
Volume XXVI Number 5, May 2018

  Thursday, May 24, 7:30-9:00 PM. Monthly 
Meeting. We meet at the Caltech Y, Tyson 
House, 505 S. Wilson Ave., Pasadena. This 
month we will watch a film from the Gacaca 
Trilogy, a set of documentaries about the 
aftermath of the Rwanda genocide and efforts 
for reconciliation among neighbors. The film is 
54 minutes long, and we will have some time 
for discussion afterward.
  Tuesday, June 12, 7:30-9:00 PM. Letter 
writing meeting at Caltech Athenaeum, corner 
of Hill and California in Pasadena. In the 
summer we meet outdoors at the "Rath al 
Fresco," on the lawn next to the building. This 
informal gathering is a great way for 
newcomers to get acquainted with Amnesty. 
  Sunday, June 17, 6:30 PM. Rights Readers 
Human Rights Book Discussion Group. This 
month we read "Killers of the Flower Moon: 
The Osage Murders and the Birth of the 
F.B.I." by David Grann. 
  Note: We're taking a summer break and 
won't have any Thursday monthly meetings in 
June, July, or August. Letter writing and book 
group meetings will continue as usual.


Hi everyone,

Kathy didn't have time to write the column this 
month, so here's a short note from me (Joyce). 

Thanks to Group 22 member Paula for 
providing the film for our Thursday meeting. 
"Gacaca, Living Together Again in Rwanda?" is 
the title. More information about the film is at,_Living

"The name Gacaca is derived from the 
Kinyarwanda word umucaca meaning "a plant 
so soft to sit on that people prefer to gather on 
it". Originally, Gacaca gatherings were meant to 
restore order and harmony within communities 
by acknowledging wrongs and having justice 
restored to those who were victims."

It sounds like a very interesting and thought-
provoking film. Hope you can come and watch 
it with Group 22 on Thursday!

Next Rights Readers Meeting

Sunday, June 17
6:30 PM

Vroman's Bookstore
695 E. Colorado Blvd 

Killers of the Flower Moon 
by David Grann

By Dave Eggers
April 28, 2017

The Osage Murders and the Birth of the F.B.I.
By David Grann

In 1804, President Thomas Jefferson hosted a 
delegation of Osage chiefs who had traveled 
from their ancestral land, which Jefferson had 
recently acquired - from the French, not the 
Osage - in the Louisiana Purchase. The Osage 
representatives were tall, many of them over six 
feet, and they towered over most of their White 
House hosts. Jefferson was impressed, calling 
them the " finest men we have ever seen." He 
promised to treat their tribe fairly, telling them 
that from then on, "they shall know our nation 
only as friends and benefactors."

Over the next 20 years, the Osage were stripped 
of their land, ceding almost 100 million acres, 
and were forced onto a parcel in southeastern 
Kansas that measured about 50 by 125 miles 
(four million acres). This land would be theirs 
forever, the United States government told 

And then - as David Grann details early in his 
disturbing and riveting new book, "Killers of the 
Flower Moon" - this promise, too, was broken. 
White settlers began squatting on Osage 
territory, skirmishes ensued and eventually the 
tribe had to sell the land for $1.25 an acre. 
Looking for a new home, the Osage found an 
area of what was to become Oklahoma that no 
one else wanted. It was hilly and unsuited to 
cultivation. The Osage bought the parcel for 
roughly a million dollars, later adding a 
provision that the land's "oil, gas, coal or other 
minerals" would be owned by the Osage, too. 
Thus they owned the land above and whatever 
was below, as well.

No one argued the point at the time. No one but 
the Osage knew there was oil under that rocky 
soil. The Osage leased the land to prospectors 
and made a fortune. "In 1923 alone," Grann 
writes, "the tribe took in more than $30 million, 
the equivalent today of more than $400 million. 
The Osage were considered the wealthiest 
people per capita in the world." They built 
mansions and bought fleets of cars. A magazine 
writer at the time wrote: "Every time a new well 
is drilled the Indians are that much richer. ... 
The Osage Indians are becoming so rich that 
something will have to be done about it."

Indeed. The federal government, ostensibly 
concerned about the Osage Indians' ability to 
manage their windfall, required many Osage 
Indians - those it classified as "incompetent" 
- to have a guardian oversee the management 
and spending of their money. Full-blooded 
Indians could expect to be deemed 
"incompetent" and in need of oversight, 
whereas those of mixed blood were allowed to 
manage their own affairs. Not surprisingly, the 
Osage became popular targets for theft, graft 
and mercenary marriage. A white woman sent a 
letter to the tribe, offering herself to any willing 
Osage bachelor: "Will you please tell the richest 
Indian you know of, and he will find me as good 
and true as any human being can be."

Grann approaches his narrative by way of 
Mollie Burkhart, a full member of the Osage 
tribe and one of four sisters who all became 
wealthy and married white men. But despite 
their windfall, their lives were fraught and 
ended too soon. Her sister Minnie died at 27 of 
what doctors ruled a "peculiar wasting illness." 
A few years later, her sister Anna, who was 
known to enjoy speakeasies and whiskey, left 
one night and never came home. Her body was 
found a week later in a ravine. She had been 
shot in the head.

Another Osage member, Charles Whitehorn, 
was found shot within days of the discovery of 
Anna's body. Both he and Anna had been killed 
with small-caliber bullets. "Two Separate 
Murder Cases Are Unearthed Almost at Same 
Time," a newspaper headline declared. Two 
months after Anna's body was found, her 
mother, Lizzie, also died of the same vague 
wasting "disease" that had claimed Minnie. 
When another sister turned up dead in a 
suspicious fire, leaving Mollie as the last of her 
family alive, she was terrified. Someone or 
something was killing not just the members of 
her family but Osage Indians en masse - hence 
the first half of Grann's subtitle, "The Osage 
Murders and the Birth of the F.B.I."

Nine months after the deaths of Anna Brown 
and Charles Whitehorn, a champion Osage steer 
roper named William Stepson died of an 
apparent poisoning. Two more Osage died in 
the ensuing months, both of suspected 
poisonings. A couple was blown up by a 
nitroglycerin bomb while they slept in their bed. 
The killing continued, with more than two 
dozen people - not just Osage Indians but also 
white investigators sent to look into the crimes 
- killed between 1920 and 1924. It became 
known as the Osage Reign of Terror.

The second part of Grann's subtitle nods to the 
fitful investigation into the killings and their role 
in shaping the modern F.B.I. In the 1920s, law 
enforcement was typically conducted by a 
patchwork of sheriffs, private detectives and 
vigilantes. The sheriff of Osage County at the 
time was Harve M. Freas, 58, who weighed 300 
pounds and was rumored to cavort with 
bootleggers and gamblers. He had done nothing 
to determine who was killing the Osage Indians, 
so the tribe asked Barney McBride, a white 
oilman they trusted, to go to Washington, D.C., 
to insist the federal government intervene. A 
day after he arrived, McBride's body was found 
in a Maryland culvert. He was naked and had 
been stabbed over 20 times. "Conspiracy 
Believed to Kill Rich Indians," The Washington 
Post's headline read.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation was created 
by Theodore Roosevelt in 1908, to fill in gaps in 
jurisdiction and assist where local enforcement 
was overmatched. By the 1920s, though, it was 
still relatively small, with only a few hundred 
agents and a handful of offices around the 
country. Most important, the bureau's agents 
were not trusted. Known for bending laws and 
getting cozy with criminals, the Department of 
Justice, Grann writes, "had become known as 
the Department of Easy Virtue."

That changed in 1924, when J. Edgar Hoover 
was appointed the director of the F.B.I. He was 
not a likely choice. He had been deputy director 
under Burns, but was only 29 and had never 
been a detective. He was diminutive, struggled 
with a stutter and a fear of germs, and lived 
with his mother. But he was zealous and 
organized, and had a vision for the bureau. He 
insisted that all agents have some background in 
law or accounting; that they wear dark suits and 
ties; that they abstain from alcohol and be 
models of personal propriety; and that they use 
new, scientific methods of sleuthing, including 
fingerprint identification, ballistics, handwriting 
analysis and phone-tapping.

The Osage murders would be Hoover's first 
significant test of the new F.B.I.'s abilities.
Given that so many investigators had already 
failed or had been murdered in pursuit of the 
killers, Hoover needed the sturdiest and most 
incorruptible of agents to head up the 
investigation. He chose Tom White, a Texan 
myth of a man. White's father was the local 
sheriff in Austin, so Tom grew up in a home 
attached to the county jail. He and two brothers 
eventually became Texas Rangers. Looking for a 
more stable life, White became an F.B.I. agent.

White was empowered to put his own team 
together, most of whom would insinuate 
themselves into Osage undercover. One older 
agent entered town as an elderly cattle rancher. 
Another agent, a former insurance salesman, set 
up a real insurance office in town. And John 
Wren, part Ute Indian - one of the F.B.I.'s few 
Native Americans - arrived as an Indian 
medicine man hoping to find his relatives.

If this all sounds like the plot of a detective 
novel, you have fallen under the spell of David 
Grann's brilliance. In his previous two books, 
"The Lost City of Z," about the search for the 
golden Amazonian city of El Dorado, and "The 
Devil and Sherlock Holmes," a varied collection 
of journalism, Grann has proved himself a 
master of spinning delicious, many-layered 
mysteries that also happen to be true. As a 
reporter he is dogged and exacting, with a 
singular ability to uncover and incorporate 
obscure journals, depositions and ledgers 
without ever letting the plot sag. As a writer he 
is generous of spirit, willing to give even the 
most scurrilous of characters the benefit of the 

Thus, when Tom White and his men solve the 
crime, and the mastermind behind the murders 
is revealed, you will not see it coming. You will 
feel that familiar thrill at having been 
successfully misdirected, but then there are 
about 70 pages left in the book. And in these last 
pages, Grann takes what was already a 
fascinating and disciplined recording of a 
forgotten chapter in American history, and with 
the help of contemporary Osage tribe members, 
he illuminates a sickening conspiracy that goes 
far deeper than those four years of horror. It will 
sear your soul. Among the towering thefts and 
crimes visited upon the native peoples of the 
continent, what was done to the Osage must 
rank among the most depraved and ignoble. 
"This land is saturated with blood," says Mary 
Jo Webb, an Osage Indian alive today and still 
trying to understand the crimes of the past. 
"History," Grann writes in this shattering book, 
"is a merciless judge."

David Grann is a #1 New York Times bestselling 
author and an award-winning staff writer at The 
New Yorker magazine. His latest book, Killers of 
the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth 
of the FBI, was released in 2017. Based on years 
of research, it explores one of the most sinister 
crimes and racial injustices in American history. 

His first book, The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly 
Obsession in the Amazon, became a #1 New York 
Times bestseller and has been translated into 
more than twenty-five languages. The Lost City 
of Z has been adapted into a major motion 
picture, which will be released in theaters in 
April 2017. 

Before joining The New Yorker in 2003, Grann 
was a senior editor at The New Republic, and, 
from 1995 until 1996, the executive editor of the 
newspaper The Hill. He holds master's degrees 
in international relations from the Fletcher 
School of Law & Diplomacy as well as in 
creative writing from Boston University. After 
graduating from Connecticut College in 1989, he 
received a Thomas Watson Fellowship and did 
research in Mexico, where he began his career in 
journalism. He currently lives in New York with 
his wife and two children.

Security with Human Rights
By Robert Adams


Reacting to the opening of the United States 
embassy in Jerusalem, Raed Jarrar, Advocacy 
Director for the Middle East and North Africa at 
Amnesty International USA stated:

"Today, on the eve of Palestinians' 
commemoration of the Nakba, the displacement 
and dispossession of hundreds of thousands of 
Palestinians 70 years ago from their homes and 
towns, the United States has chosen to reward 
the illegal annexation of occupied territory by 
moving its embassy and recognizing unified 
Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

 "The Trump administration may portray this 
action as simply hauling desks from one 
building to another. But in reality this move 
intentionally undermines Palestinian rights and 
in effect condones decades of violations by 
Israel, including the creation of illegal 
settlements, which constitute war crimes.

 "This U.S. action comes in the midst of a brutal 
crackdown by the Israeli government against 
Palestinians in Gaza who have been protesting, 
in the vicinity of the Israel-Gaza fence, against 
their unbearable living conditions and calling 
for the right to return. Israeli soldiers have used 
weapons - some made in the U.S. and designed 
to cause maximum harm - against individuals 
who were not posing an imminent threat to 
them, injuring thousands, and killing 37, 
including some in what appear to have been 
willful killings.

 "As Israel's main supplier of military 
equipment and technology, the U.S. must finally 
realize that it is fueling serious human rights 
abuses and consistently allowing Israeli 
authorities to remain unaccountable for their 
"Rather than showing contempt for 
international law yet again, the U.S. must take 
concrete steps to stop the delivery of arms and 
military equipment to Israel, and demand 
independent, impartial investigations into 
reports of violations."

Responding to reports that dozens of 
Palestinians have already been killed and 
hundreds injured by the Israeli military, Philip 
Luther, Research and Advocacy Director for the 
Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty 
International, said:

 "This is another horrific example of the Israeli 
military using excessive force and live 
ammunition in a totally deplorable way. This is 
a violation of international standards, in some 
instances committing what appear to be willful 
killings constituting war crimes.
"Today's footage from Gaza is extremely 
troubling, and as violence continues to spiral out 
of control, the Israeli authorities must 
immediately rein in the military to prevent the 
further loss of life and serious injuries.

 "Only last month, Amnesty International called 
on the international community to stop the 
delivery of arms and military equipment to 
Israel. The rising toll of deaths and injuries 
today only serves to highlight the urgent need 
for an arms embargo.

 "While some protestors may have engaged in 
some form of violence, this still does not justify 
the use of live ammunition.

 "Under international law, firearms can only be 
used to protect against an imminent threat of 
death or serious injury."

Early medical reports from Gaza today indicate 
that dozens of people have been shot in the head 
or chest. Amnesty International last 
month documented research from the Gaza 
Strip that showed the Israeli military were 
killing and maiming demonstrators who pose 
no imminent threat to them.


By Stevi Carroll

A Look at Proposition 66's Possible Impact - 
Just Name One

The final name this month in recent 
exonerations is Vicente Benavides. He began his 
stay on California's death row in 1993. It was not 
until 2018 that he was exonerated. Had the law 
that 51% of the California voters approved in 
2016 been in effect in 1993 Vicente Benavides 
may be dead today. Mr. Benavides exoneration 
should be the proof Governor Jerry Brown 
needed in 2012 when he dismissed the 
possibility of innocent people being on death. 
Governor Brown said,  "I know people say, 'Oh, 
there have been all these innocent people.' Well, 
I have not seen one name on death row that's 
been told to me."

Okay Governor Brown, here's one name: 
Vicente Benavides.

A New Book  
"Death Row: The Final Minutes: My Life as an 
Execution Witness in America's Most Infamous 
Prison" by Michelle Lyons


First as a reporter and then as a spokesperson 
for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, 
Michelle was a frequent visitor to Huntsville's 
Walls Unit, where she recorded and relayed the 
final moments of death row inmates' lives before 
they were put to death by the state.

Michelle was in the death chamber as some of 
the United States' most notorious criminals, 
including serial killers, child murderers and 
rapists, spoke their last words on earth, while a 
cocktail of lethal drugs surged through their 

Michelle supported the death penalty, before 
misgivings began to set in as the executions 
mounted. During her time in the prison system, 
and together with her dear friend and colleague, 
Larry Fitzgerald, she came to know and like 
some of the condemned men and women she 
saw die. She began to query the arbitrary nature 
of the death penalty and ask the question: do 
executions make victims of all of us?

An incredibly powerful and unique look at the 
complex story of capital punishment, as told by 
those whose lives have been shaped by it, Death 
Row: The Final Minutes is an important take on 
crime and punishment at a fascinating point in 
America's political history. (from Amazon)

New Hampshire

New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu will 
have a bill to rid the state of the death penalty 
on his desk. He has promised to veto it.

Who supports this repeal? 

Representative Richard O'Leary, D-Manchester 
believes the over 200 studies that have shown 
that the death penalty does not deter murders to 
make communities safer. The state would need 
to build a new death chamber, and a group of 
retired police and corrections officials think the 
millions of dollars needed for this task could be 
better spent. Former Assistant Commissioner of 
Corrections Bill McGonagle is concerned that 
executions do not always proceed as planned 
and that watching just one botched execution 
should convince people that this is not a 
humane thing to do. Retired Derry police Lt. 
Paul Lutz believes, "the psychological threats to 
the lives of those engaged in this field are far 
greater than what is posed by an armed 

Despite these comments from people who have 
been directly involved in the criminal justice 
system, Governor Sununu's position on this bill 
has remained steadfast. 

We'll see.

Recent Exonerations

Marquis Jackson State: CT 
Date of Exoneration: 5/3/2018
In 2000, Marquis Jackson was sentenced to 45 
years in prison for murder and robbery at a New 
Haven, Connecticut delicatessen. He was 
exonerated in 2018 after cell phone evidence 
concealed by police was discovered that showed 
he was not involved.

Jean Dorval State: NJ 
Date of Exoneration: 4/30/2018
In 1996, Jean Dorval and Duquene Pierre were 
sentenced to 60 years in prison for murder and 
aggravated assault in Union County, New 
Jersey. Pierre was acquitted at a retrial in 2016 
based on evidence that he and Dorval were out 
of state at the time of the murder and in 2018, 
the prosecution dismissed the charges against 

Anthony Jakes State: IL 
Date of Exoneration: 4/30/2018
In 1993, Anthony Jakes was sentenced to 40 
years in prison after falsely confessing at age 15 
to a murder in Chicago, Illinois. He was 
exonerated in 2018 based on evidence that police 
kicked and beat him until he confessed.

Vernon Horn State: CT 
Date of Exoneration: 4/25/2018
In 2000, Vernon Horn was sentenced to 70 years 
in prison for murder and robbery at a New 
Haven, Connecticut delicatessen. He was 
exonerated in 2018 after cell phone evidence 
concealed by police was discovered that showed 
he was not involved.

Vicente Benavides State: CA 
Date of Exoneration: 4/19/2018
In 1993, Vicente Benavides was sentenced to 
death for murdering his common-law wife's 21-
month-old daughter by sexual assault. He was 
exonerated in 2018 after ten medical experts 
who had testified at his trial recanted their 
testimony, and new evidence showed that no 
sexual assault occurred.

Stays of Execution

11	William Montgomery		OH
	Commutation granted. On March 16, the 
Ohio Board of Pardons voted 604 to recommend 
that Montgomery's death sentence be commuted 
by Ohio Governor John Kasich. Gov. Kasich 
commuted Montgomery's death sentence to life 
without parole on March 26, 2018.

7	Marcel Johnson		PA	 
Stay granted by the Bucks County Court of 
Common Pleas on March 28, 2018 to provide 
Johnson the opportunity to pursue state post-
conviction challenges that are available to all 
Pennsylvania criminal defendants.

9	James Hawkins	TN	 
Stay granted on April 12, 2018 to provide 
Hawkins the opportunity to pursue state post-
conviction challenges that are available to all 
Tennessee criminal defendants.

30	Stanley Fitzpatrick	OH


25	Erick Daniel Davila	TX 
	Lethal injection 
	1-drug Pentobarbital   
	years from sentencing and execution = 9

4	Robert Earl Butts, Jr	GA 
	Lethal injection 
	1-drug Pentobarbital   
	years from sentencing and execution = 19

16	Juan Castillo		TX 
	Lethal injection 
	1-drug Pentobarbital   
	years from sentencing and execution = 22

UAs                    15
POC                     5
Total                  20

Amnesty International Group 22
The Caltech Y
Mail Code C1-128
Pasadena, CA 91125

Amnesty International's mission is to undertake research and action focused on 
preventing and ending grave abuses of the rights to physical and mental integrity, 
freedom of conscience and expression, and freedom from discrimination, within the 
context of its work to promote all human rights.