In a first, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan will posthumously pardon 34 victims of racial lynching who weren't given due process

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Larry Hogan
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan. Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images

On Saturday, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan posthumously pardoned 34 victims of racial lynching in the state, the Baltimore Sun reported.

The victims were denied legal due process between 1854 and 1933.

The pardons were partly due to a petition by students at Loch Raven Technical Academy that urged Hogan to pardon Howard Cooper, a 15-year-old Black boy who in 1885 was hanged outside the Towson jailhouse by a white mob, WJZ reported.

"I was so inspired by that group of young middle school students because we have no greater responsibility as leaders of a democracy than preserving for future generations the importance of clearly differentiating the difference of right from wrong," Hogan said.

The lynching came not long after he was convicted of assault and rape by an all-white jury that deliberated for less than a minute.

"In the interest of equal justice under law, I have made the decision to grant a posthumous pardon today for Howard Cooper," Hogan said during an outdoor ceremony in Towson, in which Cooper was memorialized, the Sun reported.

"And studying this case led me to dig deeper," Hogan added. "Today I am also granting pardons to all the 34 victims of racial lynchings in the state of Maryland which occurred between 1854 and 1933."

Politico reported that Hogan's spokesman Michael Ricci said the pardon was the first of its kind by a governor.

Will Schwarz, President of the Maryland Lynching Memorial Project, told Politico the pardons were a way to acknowledge the truth of racial violence and a step towards reconciliation.

"We have a responsibility to try and dismantle that machine of white supremacy and this is a big piece of it, acknowledging the violation of civil rights and of due process that were a part of these awful lynchings," Schwarz said.

Willie Flowers, president of the NAACP Maryland State Conference was critical of Hogan's pardons and called it "political posturing," CNN reported.

Flowers told CNN that many of those pardoned were never convicted of any crimes. Most were just killed after they were charged or accused of crimes.

"This is just political posturing that nobody needs right now," Flowers told CNN on Sunday. "If the governor's going to do something, he should with his power as governor look at the many broken systems based on the same type of vitriol, contempt, hatred, that caused the murders of these gentlemen. Every system that has been broken, as the governor of Maryland, he alone can change all of it."

A Spokesperson for Hogan did not respond to CNN's request for comment on Flower's statement.

Read the original article on Business Insider