Photograph of Lester Tate, at right, speaking to the members of the Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers Union, Local 700. Union members shown in the photograph are, clockwise from left: Val Benavides, Fermin Estrada, William James, Art Romero, Joe Davis, Primo Cabello, Adam Squeglia, Art Lundren, Edna Richard, and John H. Bowen. The union, the Civil Rights Congress and other organizations waged a successful campaign to prevent Tate's extradition to Virginia. Tate's legal problems began in 1941, when he and four others were arrested and charged with the attempted robbery of a grocery store near Norfolk, Virginia. Tate was sentenced to a chain gang, but escaped in 1943 and moved to Los Angeles. In Los Angeles, he changed his name from Albert Lindsay Gee to Lester Tate and became active in the Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers union. In 1944, Tate was arrested in Los Angeles on a minor charge, and police learned he was wanted in Virginia on a fugitive warrant. In response to lobbying from civil libertarians and labor unions, California Gov. Earl Warren refused to sign the extradition papers.
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