Brocks, Joseph

Biography:

Brocks was the subject of a bitter battle to prevent his extradition from Los Angeles to Alabama. The extradition saga began in December 1948, when Brocks and his wife were Christmas shopping in Los Angeles. A police officer accused Brocks of commiting a burglary and took him to the police station, where Brocks was quickly cleared of the charge. But while he was being fingerprinted, police discovered that Brocks was wanted in Alabama, where he had escaped from a chain gang almost six years earlier. At that time, Brocks was known as Bernard White, and was sentenced to serve 10 years on a chain gang after he made a forced confession that he had stolen a bicycle and illegally entered a private home in Thomasville, Alabama. White escaped from the chain gang after serving almost three months, changed his name to Joseph Brocks, and moved to Los Angeles. During the extradition battle, Brocks was represented by attorneys affiliated with the Los Angeles Civil Rights Congress (CRC). Attorneys maintained Brocks should not be extradited to Alabama because he would be sentenced to death by the racist Southern justice system. Local chapters of the International Longshoremen and Warehousemens Union, International Ladies Garment Workers Union, Mine and Mill and Smelters Workers Union, and several other unions joined in Brocks' defense. Brocks' defenders urged California Governor Earl Warren to refuse extradition, but Warren honored Alabama's request to reopen Brocks' case. On Feb. 28, 1949, Brocks was taken to an Alabama prison and placed in a death cell. The Civil Rights Congress continued to campaign for Brocks' release.

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