On 7 June 1998, in Jasper, Texas, James Byrd, Jr. – a black man – accepted a ride from three white men, Lawrence Brewer, John King, and Shawn Berry. Berry and Byrd had passed each other many times in town. Instead of taking Byrd home, they took him to a wooded country road and beat him nearly to death, breaking 4 ribs, his jaw, his left shin, his left orbital bone, knocking out almost all of his teeth, and rupturing both his testicles by smashing them with a wrench. Then they chained him by the ankles to Berry’s trailer hitch and dragged him for 3 miles down the road. They had pulled his pants down so it would hurt more. They testified to this much. He survived until his body swung out from behind the truck at a turn and struck a cement drainage culvert, ripping off his head and right arm. The three men then deliberately scattered his body all over town, dumping most of it in a black cemetery.
They were arrested when police found in the middle of the highway the wrench, with Berry’s name on it, that they used on Byrd. They found a Zippo lighter inscribed with “Possum,” which was King’s nickname. The crime is sufficiently despicable to make it onto such a list as this, but its most odious aspect is the fact that none of the three men has ever apologized. Brewer was executed on 21 September 2011, smiling as they strapped him to the table. He deliberately ordered a prodigious last meal, and then scattered it all over his cell. He spat in the priest’s face, and had this to say, “He was a godamn nigger and I hope his family never recovers. As far as any regrets, no. I have no regrets. No, I’d do it all over again, to tell you the truth.”
King, who is awaiting execution, wrote Brewer letters attesting to the same absence of remorse and refusal to repent, and answered a prison psychiatrist, in response to the question, “Why did you do it?” with “Go fuck yourself. I’m not afraid to be murdered for doing what’s right. That son of a bitch was a fucking black bastard, and he’s burning the fuck in Hell right now. God is white.” The online white supremacist community cheered the crime and called it a great day for whites, America, and God. They staged freedom marches around the courthouse during the trial. Berry has wisely never publicly shared his partners’ sentiment, and his silence spared him the death penalty. He will be in 23-hour lockdown until at least 2038.
These tweets (and one retweet) are from my friend Ryan, a journalist who has been on the ground in Ferguson for the past few days. (His Twitter account is here, and it’s a great source of updates on the situation there [x]).
I just wanted to remind everybody that while spreading word about Michael Brown’s unjust murder and the horrifying events of the night of August 14, 2014, please do not oversimplify or ignore the complexities of the situation.
Journalists in the town have been doing what journalists do: focusing on all the negative aspects about the community to try and make it look like a hell-hole in order to sell their own pictures and stories, and basically all many of them want to do is further their own careers. But focusing on all that negativity only paints the picture of one side of the story, ignoring a lot of other important things going on there.
Please do not fall prey to the media’s game. Anger at the actions of the police in Ferguson is totally justified, but in the midst of that we cannot allow the people who are living with the situation every day to be dehumanized. Despite all this tragedy and chaos going on around them, they’re still a community and in many ways they’re pulling through all of it together. They want peace. Anyone looting or burning things down is a very small portion of the community. The whole story is so much bigger.
A story doesn’t need tear gas to be interesting. We need to hear every side of this story, not just the horrific parts.
TL:DR: please don’t fall prey to media attempts to dehumanize and oversimplify the situation in ferguson!!
EXCLUSIVE: St. Louis Police Officer Blows the Whistle on Rampant Corruption Within the Department
“I wouldn’t have came down here (to Ferguson) and stood on those front lines, I would have taken my uniform off and have resigned. I didn’t have to come down here, but I would not have come down here and oppressed these people.”
Did you guys hear about the robbery suspect in St. Louis, MO that assaulted two officers and managed to break one of the officer’s hands during the altercation?
He was shot & killed…no wait, he was arrested and charged.
Tell me again how Mike Brown’s murder had nothing to do with race.