Tag Archives: Black History

American Hero Medgar Evers

American Hero Medgar Evers

July 2, 1925 – June 12, 1963

From an NAACP article:  Medgar Evers was a native of Decatur, Mississippi, attending school there until being inducted into the U.S. Army in 1943. Despite fighting for his country as part of the Battle of Normandy, Evers soon found that his skin color gave him no freedom when he and five friends were forced away at gunpoint from voting in a local election. Despite his resentment over such treatment, Evers enrolled at Alcorn State University….

He married classmate Myrlie Beasley on December 24, 1951, and completed work on his degree the following year. The couple moved to Mound Bayou, MS, where T.R.M. Howard had hired him to sell insurance for his Magnolia Mutual Life Insurance Company. Howard was also the president of the Regional Council of Negro Leadership (RCNL), a civil rights and pro self-help organization….

After moving to Jackson, he was involved in a boycott campaign against white merchants and was instrumental in eventually desegregating the University of Mississippi when that institution was finally forced to enroll James Meredith in 1962.

…Evers found himself the target of a number of threats… On May 28, 1963, a molotov cocktail was thrown into the carport of his home, and…he was nearly run down by a car after he emerged from the Jackson NAACP office. 

American Hero Medgar Evers

June 12, 1963

On June 12, 1963, Byron De La Beckwith assassinated NAACP civil rights leader Medgar Evers outside his home.

Byron De La Beckwith was born on November 9, 1920. He would die on January 21, 2001, 37 years, 7 months, 10 days after he gunned down Evers. He was a member of the  White Citizens’ Council.

The arc of justice was a long and serpentine one. Here is a chronology of the days, months, years, and decades following the assassination.

American Hero Medgar Evers

1963

June 15, 1963: mourners file past the open casket of Medgar Evers in Jackson, Mississippi.

June 23, 1963: the FBI announced the arrest in Greenwood, MS of Byron De La Beckwith.

June 26, 1963: the federal government dropped its civil rights charges against De La Beckwith in view of Mississippi’s plans to prosecute him for Evers’s murder. On July 2, 1963: in Jackson, Mississippi, the Hinds County grand jury indicted Beckwith.

American Hero Medgar Evers

July 6, 1963: Dylan first performedOnly a Pawn in Their Game” at a voter registration rally in Greenwood, Mississippi. The song refers to the murder of Medgar Evers. He would sing it again at the March on Washington on August 28.

A bullet from the back of a bush
Took Medgar Evers’ blood
A finger fired the trigger to his name
A handle hid out in the dark
A hand set the spark
Two eyes took the aim
Behind a man’s brain
But he can’t be blamed
He’s only a pawn in their game.
A South politician preaches to the poor white man
“You got more than the blacks, don’t complain
You’re better than them, you been born with white skin, ” they explain
And the Negro’s name
Is used, it is plain
For the politician’s gain
As he rises to fame
And the poor white remains
On the caboose of the train
But it ain’t him to blame
He’s only a pawn in their game.
The deputy sheriffs, the soldiers, the governors get paid
And the marshals and cops get the same
But the poor white man’s used in the hands of them all like a tool
He’s taught in his school
From the start by the rule
That the laws are with him
To protect his white skin
To keep up his hate
So he never thinks straight
‘Bout the shape that he’s in
But it ain’t him to blame
He’s only a pawn in their game.
From the poverty shacks, he looks from the cracks to the tracks
And the hoofbeats pound in his brain
And he’s taught how to walk in a pack
Shoot in the back
With his fist in a clinch
To hang and to lynch
To hide ‘neath the hood
To kill with no pain
Like a dog on a chain
He ain’t got no name
But it ain’t him to blame
He’s only a pawn in their game.
Today, Medgar Evers was buried from the bullet he caught
They lowered him down as a king
But when the shadowy sun sets on the one
That fired the gun
He’ll see by his grave
On the stone that remains
Carved next to his name
His epitaph plain
Only a pawn in their game
American Hero Medgar Evers

Pleads not guilty

July 8, 1963: De La Beckwith pleaded not guilty in State Circuit Court and on July 25 he entered a state mental institution for court-ordered mental tests. On August 10 a state judge ordered him released and transferred to jail to await trial.

January 27, 1964: the Mississippi State prosecution accepted a full slate of white men to sit as a jury in the case of Byron De La Beckwith.

American Hero Medgar Evers

February 5, 1964: De La Beckwith took the witness stand in his defense and said he did not kill Evers.

February 7, 1964: a Jackson, Mississippi jury reported that it  could not reach a verdict, resulting in a mistrial. The jury Was 7-5 for acquittal.

Phil Ochs had already released his composition “Ballad of Medgar Evers.

In the state of Mississippi many years ago

A boy of 14 years got a taste of southern law

He saw his friend a hanging and his color was his crime

And the blood upon his jacket left a brand upon his mind

 

Chorus: too many martyrs and too many dead

Too many lies too many empty words were said

Too many times for too many angry men

Oh let it never be again.

His name was Medgar Evers and he walked his road alone

Like Emmett till and thousands more whose names we’ll never know

They tried to burn his home and they beat him to the ground

But deep inside they both knew what it took to bring him down

 

The killer waited by his home hidden by the night

As Mstepped out from his car into the rifle sight

He slowly squeezed the trigger, the bullet left his side

It struck the heart of every man when Evers fell and died.

 

And they laid him in his grave while the bugle sounded clear

Laid him in his grave when the victory was near

While we waited for the future for freedom through the land

The country gained a killer and the country lost a man

American Hero Medgar Evers

Second Trial

April 6, 1964: Byron De La Beckwith went on trial for the second time.  Again there was an all-white jury.

On April 11, the day after ten crosses were burned in the Jackson, Mississippi area, 75 KKK members showed up as spectators at the trial.

Capt. Ralph Hargrove of the Jackson Police Department testified that the fingerprint found on the rifle that killed Medgar Evers was De La Beckwith’s.

April 18, 1964: a second mistrial was declared in the murder case against De La Beckwith and on November 14  William L Walter, the district attorney who had prosecuted the case announced that Beckwith would not be tried a third time unless new evidence was obtained.

January 12, 1966: De La Beckwith appeared before a Congressional committee and refused to answer charges that he had participated in Ku Klux Klan intimidation since his release from jail.

American Hero Medgar Evers

Louisiana bomb

September 27, 1973: New Orleans police arrested De La Beckwith who had a time-bomb and several rifles in his car. He stated he had come to New Orleans to sell china. Police stated that De La Beckwith intended to blow up the home of A I Botnick, head of the New Orleans chapter of B’nai B’rith. It was the first day of Rosh Hashanah. Botnick had moved his family out of New Orleans several days earlier after receiving threatening calls.

October 11, 1973: the Louisiana Ku Klux Klan said it was raising a defense fund for De La Beckwith.

January 19, 1974: Byron De La Beckwith was found not guilty of carrying a live time bomb and a pistol on a midnight drive into New Orleans from Mississippi.

Beckwith said he was “exceedingly grateful for the kind treatment I have received and I ask the blessing of the most high God on all who have shown me such consideration.”

Beckwith had stated during the trial that he did not know he was carrying a time bomb into New Orleans. He said that the was “astounded” to learn from newspaper accounts after his arrest that there was a bomb in his car.

May 16, 1975: a Louisiana state jury convicted Byron De La Beckwith of transporting a dynamite bomb to New Orleans without a permit.  The earlier trial had been a federal one.

On August 1, De La Beckwith, Mississippi was sentenced to five years in prison.

 

American Hero Medgar Evers

15 more years

October 1, 1989: sealed documents from the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission revealed that at the same time that the state of Mississippi prosecuted De La Beckwith for the murder of Evers, another arm of the state, the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission, secretly assisted Beckwith’s defense, trying to get him acquitted. The revelation led the district attorney’s office to reopen and re-prosecute the case against Beckwith. It was the first of a series of prosecutions of unpunished killings from the civil rights era.

December 17, 1990:  De La Beckwith, now 70 years old was arrested as a fugitive from Mississippi. Officials said a grand jury in Hinds County had heard testimony the previous week in the slaying of Medgar Evers.

December 19, 1990: twenty-seven years after the slaying, authorities charged De la Beckwith with Evers’s murder for the third time. Prosecutors said that they had turned up new evidence and new witnesses after a 14-month investigation.

In a hearing in Tennessee, where Beckworth had lived for the past nine years, Beckwith denied killing Evers and vowed to resist extradition “tooth, nail and claw.”

American Hero Medgar Evers

Tennessee

December 31, 1990: in a move intended to speed his transfer from Tennessee to Mississippi, De la Beckwith was arrested on a governor’s warrant charging him with first-degree murder and was jailed without bond.

January 14, 1991: Chattanooga, TN. Judge Joe DeRisio of Hamilton County Criminal Court ordered  that De la Beckwith be returned to Mississippi to face a charge of first-degree murder in the 1963 slaying of Medgar Evers, but DeRisio delayed putting the extradition order into effect until January 22 to give De La Beckwith time to file an appeal with the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals.

June 3, 1991: the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that De la Beckwith must be returned to Mississippi to stand trial a third time.

September 30, 1991: Nashville, TN. The Tennessee State Supreme Court ruled that De la Beckwith must be extradited to Mississippi to stand trial a third time. Mr. Beckwith’s lawyer then took the case to the Federal courts, asking for a temporary restraining order to block the extradition. Tennessee agreed to hold Mr. Beckwith until then.

October 3, 1991: a Federal judge in Chattanooga, Tenn., refused to block the extradition of De la Beckwith, sending him back to Mississippi for a third trial.

American Hero Medgar Evers

Mississippi Must Decide

November 13, 1991: Jackson, Miss. Judge L. Breland Hilburn of Hinds County Circuit Court denied bond to Byron De La Beckwith and ordered him to remain in jail pending his murder trial.

August 4, 1992: Judge, Hilburn refusedDe La Beckwith’s request to let him go free because of deteriorating health and memory.

August 24, 1992: the Mississippi Supreme Court delayed indefinitely the third trial . The court said it would decide later if the state may prosecute De La Beckwith in the now 29-year-old case. Beckwith’s lawyers had asked the court to review a lower court’s refusal to dismiss the murder charge, which they say violated Beckwith’s right to a speedy trial and due process.

December 16, 1992: a divided Mississippi Supreme Court refused to block the trial of De La Beckwith. The court voted 4 to 3 to deny Mr. Beckwith’s claim that the case should be dismissed without going to trial.

December 23, 1992: a Mississippi state judge reversed an earlier order and set bond at $100,000 for De La Beckwith. He was freed later after a benefactor who did not want to be identified came forward with $12,000 cash required for his release, said a defense lawyer, Merrida Coxwell.

American Hero Medgar Evers

Trial #3

American Hero Medgar Evers

January 26, 1994: a jury of eight blacks and four whites was chosen. [NYT article]

February 1, 1994: the prosecution wound up dramatically with two more witnesses testifying that the defendant had bragged about the killing. Mark Reiley was the sixth person to testify that De La Beckwith had boasted of or made reference to having killed Evers in 1963.

February 2, 1994: the defense in the third trial of Byron De La Beckwith began its presentation much the same way its counterparts did at the first trial 30 years ago: calling witnesses who placed the defendant 95 miles away at the time of the shooting. Two witnesses, a businessman and auxiliary police officer from the town of Greenwood by the name of Roy Jones, who had died, and a retired Greenwood police lieutenant, Hollis Cresswell, were heard through the reading of the transcript of their testimony at the first trial in 1964.

American Hero Medgar Evers

11,197 days later

February 5, 1994: after six hours of deliberation a jury of eight blacks and four whites unanimously convicted Byron de la Beckwith of murder and immediately sentenced to life in prison.

December 22, 1997: The Mississippi Supreme Court upheld the conviction. The court said the 31-year lapse between the ambush slaying and Beckwith’s conviction did not deny him a fair trial.

January 21, 2001: De La Beckwith, 80 years old, died at University Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi. [NYT article]

American Hero Medgar Evers

USNS Medgar Evers (T-AKE-13)

American Hero Medgar Evers

October 10, 2009: Myrlie Evers-Williams, the widow of the slain civil rights pioneer Medgar Evers, heard Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, a former Mississippi governor, announce that he was naming a new Navy supply ship for her husband. She said: “I think of those who will serve on this ship and those who will see it in different parts of the world. And perhaps they, too, will come to know who Medgar Evers was and what he stood for.”

American Hero Medgar Evers

American Hero Medgar Evers

American Hero Medgar Evers
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KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner
from http://kateraedavis.com/2016/07/04/liberty-and-justice/

Growing up as Americans, we are taught to expect liberty and justice for all. Like many things that we absorb, we later learned that that expectation is a goal, but not necessarily a reality.

James E. Chaney, 21, Andrew Goodman, 21, and Michael Schwerner, 24, believed that an active involvement in the civil rights movement was more important than simply calling for change. The three men were in Mississippi as part of the Freedom Summer project to help register the disenfranchised black voters.

On June 20, 1964, The NY Times reported that “Night riders struck Neshoba County in north-central Mississippi Tuesday when a Negro church was surrounded by armed white men, most of them masked. Three Negroes attending a church board meeting were beaten and were chased away. A short time later the church went up in flames.”

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

KKK Killings

On June 21,  Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner went to investigate the burning.

Police arrested them on speeding charges, incarcerated them for several hours, and then released them after dark into the hands of the Ku Klux Klan, who murdered them near Philadelphia, Mississippi.

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

June 23, 1964: the Neshoba Democrat reported that: “The car driven by three integrationists who disappeared after being arrested last Sunday night here has been found by Federal Bureau of Investigation officers about 13 miles from Philadelphia, in the northeast corner of Neshoba County. The car, a 1963 or 1964 Ford station wagon, was located in heavy sweetgum growth on Highway 21, about 100 feet from the Bogue Chitto creek and about 100 feet off the highway. The station wagon had been burned.”

June 29, 1964: the FBI issued poster of missing workers.

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

Chaney Goodman Schwerner murdered

July – August 1964

July 12, 1964: while looking for the bodies of  the three missing civil rights workers  searchers discover the disarticulated lower torso of Charles Moore in the river south of Tallulah, Louisiana. Moore’s body was identified by the draft card he had in his possession at the time of his death.

August 4, 1964 six weeks into a federal investigation backed by President Johnson, Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner’s bodies were found in an earthen dam.

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

Chaney Goodman Schwerner murdered

Arrests

December 4, 1964: FBI agents arrested 19 Mississippi men on federal conspiracy charges in connection with the slayings.

December 18, 1964: eighteen of the 21 Mississippians implicated in the murder were arraigned before a US commissioner in Meridan, MS.

Defendant Lawrence Rainey, Neshoba county sheriff, said, “Hey, let’s have some Red Man” –and bit off a cheek-filling plug. His deputy (and codefendant) Cecil Price smiled and other defendants and spectators laughed.

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

Racist Judge Cox

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

February 24, 1965: Federal Judge William Harold Cox, an ardent segregationist, threw out the indictments against all conspirators other than Rainey and Price on the ground that the other seventeen were not acting “under color of state law.”

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

The Andrew Goodman Foundation

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

In 1966, Robert and Carolyn Goodman, Andrew’s parents, started The Andrew Goodman Foundation to carry on the spirit and purpose of their son’s life.

Their mission statement is: “We are witness to the rise of a diverse and connected new citizenry, one that can forever transform our society and our world for the better. Our ability to spark their passion — today — will result in change, tomorrow. Through Vote Everywhere, a national movement of student leaders and university administrators, we partner with America’s colleges and universities to create dynamic hubs of student participation.”

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

Cox overruled

March 28, 1966: in U. S. vs. Price et al, the Supreme Court overruled Federal Judge Cox and reinstated the indictments.

October 7, 1967: trial in the case of United States versus Cecil Price et al. began in the Meridian courtroom of Judge William Cox.  Chief Prosecutor John Doar and other government attorneys had reason to be concerned about Cox.  Cox, appointed as an effort to appease powerful Judiciary Committee Chairman (and former roommate of Cox at Ole Miss) Senator James Eastland, had been a constant source of problems for Justice Department lawyers (especially John Doar) who were seeking to enforce civil rights laws in Mississippi.  In one incident, Judge Cox referred to a group of African Americans set to testify in a voting rights case as “a bunch of chimpanzees.”

A jury of seven white men and five white women, ranging in ages from 34 to 67, was selected. Defense attorneys exercised peremptory challenges against all seventeen potential black jurors.  A white man, who admitted under questioning by Robert Hauberg, the U.S. Attorney for Mississippi, that he had been a member of the KKK “a couple of years ago,” was challenged for cause.  Judge Cox denied the challenge.

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

Convictions

October 20, 1967: the all-white jury convicted seven conspirators [Cecil Price, Samuel Bowers, Alton Wayne Roberts, Jimmy Snowden, Billy Wayne Posey, Horace Barnett, and Jimmy Arledge]  and acquitted eight others.

For three men, including Edgar Rice Killen, the trial ended in a hung jury, with the jurors deadlocked 11–1 in favor of conviction. The lone holdout said that she could not convict a preacher. The prosecution decided not to retry Killen and he was released. None of the men found guilty would serve more than six years in prison.

December 29, 1967: Judge Cox imposed sentences.  Roberts and Bowers got ten years, Posey and Price got six years, and the other three convicted defendants got four.  Cox said of his sentences, “They killed one nigger, one Jew, and a white man– I gave them all what I thought they deserved.”

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

Movie 

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

December 2, 1988: release of Mississippi Burning film. Chris Gerolmo wrote the story and Alan Parker directed it. It was loosely based on FBI’s investigation of the Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner murders.

A Wikipedia entry states: “Following its release, Mississippi Burning became embroiled in controversy over its fictionalization of events; it was heavily criticized by African-American activists who were involved in the Civil Rights Movement, as well as the families of Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner. Coretta Scott King, widow of Martin Luther King, Jr., boycotted the film, stating, “How long will we have to wait before Hollywood finds the courage and the integrity to tell the stories of some of the many thousands of black men, women and children who put their lives on the line for equality?” Myrlie Evers-Williams, the wife of slain civil rights activist Medgar Evers, said of the film, “It was unfortunate that it was so narrow in scope that it did not show one black role model that today’s youth who look at the movie could remember.”

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

Price dies

May 6, 2001: Cecil R. Price, who as a deputy sheriff arrested the three civil rights workers and was eventually found guilty of delivering them into the hands of their killers, died  in Jackson, Miss. He was 63.

The cause was a recent skull fracture that Price, a truck driver, suffered when he fell from a lift at an equipment rental store in Philadelphia, Miss. He died at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, the same hospital where in 1964 he helped to transport the bodies of the three victims for autopsies. (NYT article)

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

Killen re-tried

January 6, 2005: the State of Mississippi charged Killen (now 79-years-old) with the murders.  Police arrested Killen at his home following a grand jury session, according to Neshoba County Sheriff Larry Myers.  Convicted Klan conspirator Billy Wayne Posey expressed anger at Killen’s arrest: “After 40 years to come back and do something like this is ridiculous…like a nightmare.”  Carolyn Goodman, the 89-year-old mother of victim Andrew Goodman was pleased with the news.  She hoped the killers would someday be “behind bars and think about what they’ve done.” (NYT article)

June 21, 2005: a jury found Edgar Ray Killen, an 80-year-old former Ku Klux Klansman, guilty of manslaughter 41 years to the day of the murders. (NYT article)

June 23, 2005: Edgar Ray Killen was sentenced to 60 years in prison. (NYT article)

August 12, 2005: Judge Marcus Gordon of Circuit Court granted bail to Edgar Ray Killen pending an appeal. The release raised the possibility that Killen, 80 and in poor health, wouldl die a free man after serving barely six weeks of his sentence. Gordon said he he had little choice but to set bond while Mr. Killen appealed his conviction since the state had not proved that Mr. Killen, who uses a wheelchair, was a flight risk or threat. (NYT article)

September 9, 2005: judge Marcus Gordon sent Killen back to prison saying Killen had deceived the court about his health when he asked to be released on bond. The hearing was called after Mr. Killen, who was granted bail after testifying that he was confined to a wheelchair, was seen up and walking by sheriff’s deputies. (NYT article)

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

Story continues

July 14, 2006: Mississippi Circuit Court judge Marcus D. Gordon refused to let Killen out of prison while he appealed his conviction. Killen, 81, had asked to be freed on bond because of poor health. (NYT article)

April 13, 2007: the Mississippi Supreme Court upheld the manslaughter convictions of Edgar Ray Killen.

In his appeal, Killen had argued that in the 1960s he would not have been convicted by a jury of his peers of any crime under the evidence presented in 2005. (NYT article)

August 13, 2009: 73-year-old Billy Wayne Posey died.  In a 2000 statement, Posey had told investigators there were “a lot of persons involved in the murders that did not go to jail.”

He did not name those people. (NMissCommentator article)

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

Killen continues to appeal

February 25, 2010: Killen filed a federal lawsuit seeking millions of dollars in damages and a declaration that the FBI violated his rights  when it allegedly used a gangster during its investigation. Killen claimed the FBI conspired to suppress his rights to “defend his society and culture.” (NYT article)

October 15, 2013: the U.S. Supreme Court said it would consider arguments from  Killen who  said he was denied constitutional rights in his Mississippi trial, the same argument he had made in 2012. The Mississippi attorney general’s office said that it had notified the Supreme Court that no response to Killen’s petition would be filed.

November 4, 2013: the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a Killen’s appeal. The decision meant that the justices would not review lower-court rulings that had found no violations of Killen’s constitutional rights during his trial in Mississippi.

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

Supreme Court denial

January 4, 2014: Edgar Ray Killen, convicted in 2005 for the 1964 slayings of three civil rights workers in Mississippi, asked the U.S. Supreme Court to look again at his motion for a new trial.

January 13, 2014: the U.S. Supreme Court denied the rehearing request. The justices issued the order without comment.

November 10, 2014: President Barack Obama announced 19 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, including James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner.

He presented those awards on November 24 to family members of the three men. In his remarks, the President said:

From activists who fought for change to artists who explored the furthest reaches of our imagination; from scientists who kept America on the cutting edge to public servants who help write new chapters in our American story, these citizens have made extraordinary contributions to our country and the world,” he said.

Here is the link to the video of the presentation. Slide up to the 21 minute 40 second mark to hear President Obama’s remarks on the three murdered civil rights workers and to 29:20 for the actual presentations:

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

Killen interviewed

December 22, 2014: the Associated Press interviewed Edgar Ray Killen inside the Mississippi State Penitentiary, his first interview since his 2005 conviction. He refused to discuss the “Freedom Summer” slayings. He said he remained a segregationist who does not believe in race equality but contends he bears no ill will toward blacks.

Killen had first contacted an AP reporter 18 months ago. In his first letter on March 3, 2013, he made clear that no conversation with a reporter would result in a confession.

“That is not where I am coming from after 50 years of silence,” Killen wrote. “I have never discussed the 1964 case with anyone — an attorney, the FBI, local law nor friend — and those who say so are lying.” (The Times-Picayunne article)

Chaney Goodman Schwerner murdered

Story ends

May 26, 2016: retired Circuit Judge Marcus D. Gordon died. Gordon had sentenced Edgar Ray Killen to life in prison in 2005 Gordon had retired on March 4, 2016, from the Eighth District Circuit Court. (NYT obit)

June 21, 2016: Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood announced an end to the active federal and state investigation into the 1964 killings.

There’s nothing else that can be done,” he said in a news conference. “The FBI, my office and other law enforcement agencies have spent decades chasing leads, searching for evidence and fighting for justice for the three young men who were senselessly murdered on June 21, 1964,” he said. “It has been a thorough and complete investigation. I am convinced that during the last 52 years, investigators have done everything possible under the law to find those responsible and hold them accountable; however, We have determined that there is no likelihood of any additional convictions. Absent any new information presented to the FBI or my office, this case will be closed.”  (Clarion-Ledger article and video)

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

Killer dies in prison

January 11, 2018: Edgar Ray Killen, the former Klansman who was sentenced to a 60-year prison term in 2005 for arranging the murders of three young civil rights workers outside Philadelphia, Miss., in 1964 during the Freedom Summer drive to register Southern black voters, died in prison in Parchman, Miss. He was 92. (BBC news article)

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

 

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Baton Rouge Alton CD Man Stirling

Baton Rouge Alton CD Man Stirling

Alton B Stirling
June 14, 1979 – July 5, 2016

Black and shot

July 5, 2016: in Baton Rouge  officers (both white), Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II responded to a report that a black man in a red shirt selling CDs outside the Triple S Food Mart had threatened the caller with a gun.

A cellphone video showed an officer pushing Alton B. Sterling (black) onto the hood of the car and tackling him to the ground. Sterling was pinned to the ground by both officers, one kneeling on his chest and the other on his thigh, both attempting to control his arms.

Saying that Sterling had a gun and was going for it, they shot him.

That same night, more than 100 demonstrators shouted “no justice, no peace”, set off fireworks, and blocked an intersection in protest.

An autopsy would indicate that Sterling had died from multiple gunshot wounds to his chest and back.

Baton Rouge Alton CD Man Stirling

Family reaction

July 6, 2016: community leaders and the family of Alton Sterling held a news conference at Baton Rouge City Hall

Quinyetta McMillon, the mother of Sterling’s eldest son, became very emotional when talking about her Stirling. The 15-year-old boy cried openly while standing by his mother’s side as she addressed the public.
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards announced  that the Department of Justice would launch an investigation.

Mike McClanahan, the leader of the Baton Rouge chapter of the NAACP called for East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Kip Holden to fire Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie and for Holden to resign.

Black Lives Matter held a candlelight vigil in Baton Rouge, with chants of “We love Baton Rouge” and, called for justice.

Baton Rouge Alton CD Man Stirling

Philando Castile

Also July 6, 2016: Philando Castile, a 32-year-old black American, was shot and killed by Jeronimo Yanez, a St. Anthony, Minnesota police officer, after being pulled over in Falcon Heights, a suburb of Saint Paul.

Castile was in a car with his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, and her four-year-old daughter when he was pulled over by Yanez and another officer.

Baton Rouge Alton CD Man Stirling

Police reaction

The Baton Rouge Police Department, Mayor Kip Holden and other officials held a news conference to release new details in the officer-involved shooting death. 

Police identified the officers involved in the shooting and added that Salamoni has been with the force four years, while Lake had been with the department for three.

BRPD said both officers worked in the Uniform Patrol Division. Officials also stated both officers were placed on paid leave immediately after the shooting.

Baton Rouge Alton CD Man Stirling

Dallas shootings

July 7, a protest was held in Dallas, Texas, relating to the shootings of Sterling and Castile.

At the end of the peaceful protest, Micah Xavier Johnson opened fire  killing five police officers and wounding eleven others including two civilians.  A robot- bomb killed Johnson.

The United States Department of Justice opened a civil rights investigation of the Stirling death.

Baton Rouge Alton CD Man Stirling

United Nations

July 8,  2016: the United Nations Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent issued a statement strongly condemning Sterling and Castile’s killings.

Human rights expert Ricardo A. Sunga III, the Chair of the United Nations panel, stated that the killings demonstrate “a high level of structural and institutional racism”. Adding that “The United States is far from recognizing the same rights for all its citizens. Existing measures to address racist crimes motivated by prejudice are insufficient and have failed to stop the killings.” [RT article]

Baton Rouge Alton CD Man Stirling

Continued protests

July 9, a protest in Baton Rouge turned violent, with one police officer having several teeth knocked out and eight firearms (including three rifles, three shotguns, and two pistols) being confiscated from New Black Panther Party members.

Police arrested 102 people. [NOLA article]

On July 10, between 30 and 40 people were also arrested including African-American Muslim activist Blair Imani.

Baton Rouge Alton CD Man Stirling

Obama calls

July 11, 2016: President Obama placed a telephone call to the Sterling family to offer his and the First Lady’s condolences on behalf of the American people for the death of their loved one. 

People gathered across Baton Rouge to participate in rallies, vigils and protests since Sterling’s death. A memorial has been growing in honor of Sterling outside the convenience store where the shooting happened.

Baton Rouge Alton CD Man Stirling

Call for calm

On July 13, local organizing groups and the American Civil Liberties Union’s Louisiana branch, filed a lawsuit against the Baton Rouge Police Department for violating the First Amendment rights of demonstrators. They claim they were protesting peacefully against Sterling’s death.

July 13, 2016: Cameron Sterling, Alton’s oldest son,  held a press conference at the Triple S Food Mart. He pleaded for protesters to remain peaceful. 

Later that same day, President Obama held a meeting in Washington, D.C. Gov. John Bel Edwards and Louisiana State Police, Col. Mike Edmonson attended. The event was aimed at bridging the divide between police and the community. They also discussed police training and tactics. 

Baton Rouge Alton CD Man Stirling

July 15 funeral

The funeral held the F.G. Clark Center on Southern University’s campus. 

Reverend Al Sharpton and Reverend Jesse Jackson were among the many speakers at the service. 

“We must stop all the killing all the time. No one has the right to kill anyone,” said Rev. Jackson. “For those of you who are listening here and around the world, our strongest violence is not guns and violence. It’s the rightness of our cause.”

Baton Rouge Alton CD Man Stirling

Law officers killed

July 17, 2016: Gavin Eugene Long shot six police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Three died and three were hospitalized, one critically; of the officers who died, two were members of the Baton Rouge Police Department, while the third worked for the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office.

A SWAT officer killed Long during a shootout.

Baton Rouge Alton CD Man Stirling

No Charges

April 28, 2017, Mayor-President Sharron Weston Broome released a statement that a decision regarding possible federal charges was expected. She noted that no timeline had been released.

May 2, 2017:  the federal government announced that, officers, Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II, the two white police officers in the fatal shooting on the July 5, 2016 of Alton B. Sterling, a black man in Baton Rouge, La would not be charged. The incident caused widespread unrest. State charges were still pending.

June 27, 2017: Sterling’s children sued Baton Rouge. 

The wrongful death lawsuit alleged that the fatal shooting was indicative of racist conduct and excessive force by Baton Rouge police.

March 27, 2018:  Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry announced that police officers would not be prosecuted by the state authorities.

 Landry’s statements were similar to the Justice Department’s May 2, 2017 findings and defended the conduct of the officers, saying, for example, that their efforts to gain control of Sterling’s hands were “well-founded and reasonable under the circumstances and under Louisiana law.” Landry also said the officers were justified in their concern about whether Mr. Sterling was armed.

Baton Rouge Alton CD Man Stirling

Eventual “consequences”

March 30, 2018: Chief Murphy Paul of the Baton Rouge Police Department announced that Blane Salamoni, who fatally shot Alton B. Sterling was fired. Paul also announced a three-day suspension of Officer Howie Lake II, also involved in the episode. The disciplinary actions were the first serious consequences for the officers after both state and federal officials declined to bring criminal charges against them.

Baton Rouge Alton CD Man Stirling

Unrest in Baton Rouge

Inspired by a photo by Jonathan Bachman, Tracy K Smith, the US Poet Laureate,  wrote Unrest in Baton Rouge after, September 2017

“Unrest in Baton Rouge”

Our bodies run with ink dark blood. Or else

It pools in the pavement’s seams.

Is it strange to say love is a language

Few practice, but all, or near all speak?

Even the men in black armor, the ones

Jangling handcuffs and keys, what else

Are they so buffered against, if not love’s blade

Sizing up the heart’s familiar meat?

We watch and grieve. We sleep, stir, eat.

Love: the heart sliced open, gutted, clean.

Love: naked almost in the everlasting street,

Skirt lifted by a different kind of breeze

Baton Rouge Alton CD Man Stirling
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