Saturday, December 29, 2012
A talented art student who had been attending the Art Institute of San Francisco, 23-year-old Timothy Lee was found hanging from a tree near the Concord BART Station in Concord, California. Police ruled it a suicide, and said they found a suicide note, but the family said the mistakes in the handwriting were obvious such as misspelled words, names and most of all Lee's signature. The police said a State Department of Justice analysis concluded it was his, despite no verification of how they came to that conclusion. Was it a brief review? By sight? Expert determination? Neighbors Callison and Hannum heard screams that night. Another handwriting expert, Andrea McNichols of Graphology Consultants International, disputed the findings by the Sacramento based Department of Justice. McNichols even had a possible suspect from her archives. Richard Goodfellow and his former roommate George Harless were possible suspects according to others. Goodfellow was sent to prison for a triple slaying, and Harless had been involved in the assault of African-Americans while dressed as a Klansman.
Thursday, December 27, 2012
1962 World Heavyweight Champion Sonny Liston had been abused all his life and even in death his passing raises strange questions. Due to having to leave school at an early age because of his classmates' mockery of his illiteracy, he worked the land that his family sharecropped. His father had 25 children and inflicted heavy discipline on Sonny whose back bore scars even as an adult. At the age of 13 Liston left home to strike it out on his own but due to a lack of education and racism most jobs he could find were few and very exploitive. He then engaged in petty crime to make ends meet and when sent to prison learned boxing which he took upon his release. Before he was set to box a Canadian boxer, Sonny Liston was found dead by his wife Geraldine on January 5, 1971. He had been dead for days. Police ruled it a heroin overdose, but the autopsy results were inconclusive and police could not find any drug paraphernalia or needle that he would have used to inject the drug, and he was not a known drug user.
Sunday, December 23, 2012
Police were looking for a black man....any black man and Marine Corporal Lindsey Scott fit the bill when a white woman was raped, sodomized and assaulted on April 20, 1983. Lori Jackson, a homemaker who didn't have a law degree or formal experience, did the impossible. She got Scott an attorney, publicized his plight to the media, and did her own detective work....while dying of cancer. Jackson later succumbed to cancer on November 26, 1988 shortly after Scott was acquitted of the crime. Her dedication and perseverance is cited as an example of civil rights activists and advocates who contribute significantly to overturning wrongful convictions. The movie "Dangerous Evidence" is based on her story.
Saturday, December 22, 2012
On Independence Day in 1998, Lin "Spit" Newborn and Dan Shersty were lured into a party which turned out to be hate crime torture and murder set up by American Neo-Nazi members Melissa Hack and another woman in Las Vegas, Nevada. Hack's boyfriend John Edward "Polar Bear" Butler is currently in prison for their murders, but Hack evaded prosecution until she was charged as an accomplice in 2010. There were other accomplices who have yet to be identified. Ross Hack who is Melissa Hack's brother is believed to be one of the accomplices.
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
In the 1990s there was a murder of an African-American man which is believed to have been a hate crime in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Paul Anders Saustrup chased down and then gunned down 18-year-old Eric Demart Smith after allegedly seeing Smith trying to break into Saustrup's girlfriend's car on July 8, 1998. Smith was an orphan and had aged out of the foster care system. He was unarmed and had not taken anything from the car which lead to Saustrup being charged with murder. Saustrup was defended by Attorney Joe Turner of Austin, who had been initially rejected by the University of Texas School of Law but had successfully argued that Blacks with low test scores had gotten in. Saustrup was acquitted claiming self defense.
16-year-old Willie Francis was executed not once, but twice for the murder of Doctor Andrew Thomas in St. Martinville, Louisiana which he did not commit. Francis who was a juvenile delinquent had been arrested supposedly with the wallet of Doctor Thomas in his possession. The gun used to kill Doctor Andrew Thomas disappeared from evidence. (The gun had belonged to a deputy sheriff in St. Martinville who had previously threatened to kill Doctor Andrew Thomas and is alleged to have been the real murderer.) Francis's court appointed attorney didn't offer any objections, witnesses or defense. Ultimately, Francis was convicted by an all white jury and judge. His first execution on May 3, 1996 was botched and painfully Francis screamed "Take it off! Take it off! Let me breathe!". The Louisiana Supreme Court argued over his last minute appeal filed by Attorney Bertand DeBlanc, but finally the deciding judge Justice Felix Frankfurter who could break the split voted against his appeal. Later on Justice Frankfurter pleaded for his friend the Governor of Louisiana for a commutation which came too late. Willie Francis was executed again on May 9, 1947.
Monday, December 17, 2012
A.C. Hall, a 15-year-old teen, was shot and killed on October 11, 1962, in Macon, Georgia by two policemen. He had been wrongfully accused of being the perpetrator of a robbery of a pistol from a white woman's car. The woman called the police when she saw someone breaking into her car. The officers drove her and her husband through the neighborhood to find the alleged perpetrator. The couple pointed to Hall as the person who may be responsible and after a foot chase he was shot and killed by the officers.
Louis Stapleton was part of a prison chain gang, a barbaric form of punishment in which prisoners were tied and forced to work like slaves in the harsh weather from sun up to sun down. He had been convicted of drunk driving. Later on he collapsed due to exhaustion and was beaten by Pat Williams the "overseer" of the chain gang. When he couldn't get up he was beaten to death by Williams who was later fired.
Leo McKnight was an employee of murdered civil rights activist Louis Allen of Amite, Mississippi. On the eve of February 21, 1963 he, his wife, pregnant daughter and son-in-law, all perished in a suspicious house fire after being warned by racist Deputy Sheriff Daniel Jones to stop their civil rights activities.
Louis Allen, a World War II veteran and logger, had voted for the first time in his life due to the encouragement of Herbert Lee a local civil rights activist. After witnessing the brutal, bold murder of Herbert Lee by E. H. Hurst, Allen was threatened into lying about the homicide, but later found the courage to recant. He suffered severe beatings by the hands of Deputy Sheriff Daniel Jones, and on January 31, 1964 he was shot to death in his driveway in Amite, Mississippi.
Herbert Lee was a dairy farmer, father of nine children, and active in the local NAACP of Liberty, Mississippi in Pike County. He was later killed in broad daylight by E.H. Hurst, a member of the Misssissippi Legislature, who was incensed at Negroes not staying in their place and trying to get rights on September 25, 1961. witnesses were threatened into lying about the chain of events, but one witness Louis Allen found the courage to recant his false testimony and was later killed as a result.
Eight local white youths decided to go on a hate crime spree during Halloween revelry in Alcorn County, Mississippi. The resulting melee ended with the death of 15-year-old William Roy Prather on November 2, 1959. No one has been convicted in his death. His birthday was December 22, only 3 days before Christmas and his family suffered their grief immensely.
Mattie Green was a 32-year-old mother of six living in Ringgold, Georgia when local Klansmen put a bomb underneath her car thus killing her on May 16, 1960. Interviews by the FBI determined that the Klansmen involved are now dead and the case is a cold case now.
Sunday, December 16, 2012
Edmund Perry had been accepted into Brown University and had successfully navigated the Harlem hard streets, looking forward to graduating from Phillips Exeter Academy. He had participated in the A Better Chance program that helped disadvantaged low income youth attend college prep academies. Unfortunately, Perry lost his life when he got into a struggle with a plain clothes police officer named Lee Van Houten and was shot to death on June 12, 1985. His death was ruled justifiable after 24 witnesses backed up Van Houten's version of events in which he was confronted.
Henry Ezekiel Smith, Samuel Ephesians Hammond Jr., and Delano Herman Middleton were South Carolina University students who were killed by police during a civil rights protest on February 8, 1968 in Orangeburg, South Carolina. Smith and Hammond were both 18 while Middleton was a mere highschool student, but their courage on that fateful day is still remembered. The students were part of a protest in integrating the All-Star Bowling Lanes where the owner did not want to upset his White customers by allowing Blacks to patronize his business. South Carolina Highway patrol fired into a crowd of Claflin College and South Carolina University students to break up the crowd that was protesting his mistreatment of Blacks. This incident came to be known as the "Orangeburg Massacre".
Sandy Smith (sometimes spelled "Sandi" or "Sandra") was a nurse and union organizer for textile workers at Cone Mills Textile Plant who suffered harsh conditions and low wages in Greensboro, North Carolina. She had been active in the Civil Rights Movement having lead a march to free the Wilmington Ten, was President of the student body of Bennett College which is one of only two remaining all female colleges that are HBCUs (Historical Black Colleges and Universities), and was a founding member of the Student Organization for Black Unity at Bennett College. She along with five other activists was gunned down at the infamous Greensboro Massacre on November 3, 1979 after they were attacked by the Klu Klux Klan and Neo Nazis at the Morningside Homes projects. Of the Klansmen and Neo Nazis who were charged with murder, all were acquitted by all white juries. Despite a $350,000 dollar lawsuit by the victims of the massacre, only one victim received payment from the Klan and the American Neo Nazi Party.
Marc Fitzsimmons was a talented and gifted young man who had graduated from highschool early at the age of 15 and was immediately accepted into UCLA when he was only 16. Fitzsimmons had no prior run ins or problems with police, but in a sad twist of mistaken identity he was killed by Los Angeles Police Department commonly referred to as LAPD on July 2, 1998 in South Central Los Angeles. His mother Donna Dymally never got to see his body since he was cremated without her knowledge. LAPD contended that they had shot the right man after an assault was reported and they apprehended their suspect who was lunging at them with a knife. However, witnesses reported that the suspect LAPD sought was older and larger than Fitzsimmons and wore different clothing at the time of the attack on the assault victim.
On October 30, 1997, 22-year-old aspiring stockbroker Patrick Bailey of Brooklyn was shot to death by Street Crime Unit Officer Kenneth Boss, one of the four officers who were later acquitted in the Amadou Diallo trial. 40 minutes transpired before ambulance arrived, but by then Bailey had bled to death.
Malik Jones was shot to death by Officer Robert Flodquist, a member of the East Haven Police, on April 14, 1997. Flodquist had been "racial profiling" Jones and his passenger Samuel Cruz and had trailed them for a distance. Both Jones and Cruz were unarmed.
Archie Elliott was a 24-year-old college student paying his way through school by working construction jobs. While driving home from work he was stopped by police and ordered to take a field sobriety test which he failed. Despite being handcuffed and in the front seat of the police car, police shot him to death after they said he pointed a revolver at them. The revolver was never tested for fingerprints and the crime scene was tampered with by Officers Jason Leavitt of the District Heights Police Department and Wayne Cheney of the Prince George's Police Department.
Saturday, December 15, 2012
25-year-old Keisha Morgan was found unresponsive in her barracks in Baghdad by her roommate. She was not able to be resuscitated and died under mysterious circumstances. Morgan had told her mother shortly before she died that she believe a fellow soldier had put a date rape drug in her drink. A soldier who had first hand knowledge of details in her case said that there were very "extenuating circumstances" in her case that were not released to the media. It was not an accident nor a suicide.
Raymond Burrell was found raped and murdered behind a Leonardtown, Maryland school on January 6, 1980. Unfortunately money and class prevented justice from being served. Burell was poor and low income while his killers came from well off families with influence. The investigation was closed after the current Sheriff at the time Sheriff Wayne Pettit abruptly halted the investigation including pulling one suspect whose grandmother was a Maryland Circuit Court clerk out of interrogation at her bequest.
California State University student and star running back Ron Settles was killed by the Signal Hill Police Department on June 2, 1981. He was found beaten and hanged in his cell despite the Signal Hill Police Department claiming "suicide". The Los Angeles District Attorney filed charges against the officers involved in his arrest and death, but no one was convicted. His family was awarded a settlement for his homicide.
Claude Banks, a 23-year-old young man who lived in Madison County, Mississippi was shot while driving with a friend through the Mississippi city of Canton. The car crashed and his friend Willie Jones was grabbed by a racist mob. The mob was acting on a false accusation by O.B. McAdams who said he had been robbed and assaulted by a Negro. Banks family hired a white private investigator, Howard Kester, who was able to obtain evidence that Banks and Jones were not involved in the alleged assault and robbery of McAdams and that McAdams had lied.
21-year-old Carl Hampton of Houston, Texas was a bountiful organizer devoting his life to organizing his community and promoting literacy, education and self empowerment. While working on a clothing and food drive, Hampton spotted a young African-American male being roughed up by police. He intervened and soon found himself a target by the police. The officers called for backup and Hampton and his fellow workers entered a building. As they attempted to leave, a Houston reporter by the name of Howard Dupree, pointed them out to police and Hampton was subsequently shot to death.
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Charles Allie Thompson was barely 18 when he was automatically arrested and charged with the rape of a local woman named Leila Sisk in Culpepper, Virginia. A lynch mob seized him from his cell and hung him on an oak tree watching and joking as he writhed in pain and agony until he was dead. (Update: Journalist Zann Nelson and the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project (CRRJ) are working to clear his name.)
John Carter was found dead in solitary confinement in the State Correctional Institution (SCI) Rockview Prison in central Pennsylvania at the age of 32 on April 26, 2012 after 6 prison riot guards took down his door and electroshocked him. He had entered the Department of Corrections on October 30, 1995 at the age of 16 sentenced to life without parole.