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How the Right Wing Media Makes Up Racist Lies

There is an entire subculture on the right which is in the day to day business of making up lies about people of color. It is the old Lynch Mob mentality, where horrific “facts” about a supposed crime are made up to stir racial rage among whites. This lurid material gets circulated in the right wing racist press, and despite being totally dis[proved and discredited, takes on a life of its own. Even the Chumph has repeated some of these lies as part of his political “truth”.

Idaho prosecutor: Anti-Muslim bigots made up shocking gang rape story to smear Syrian refugees

An Idaho prosecutor denied lurid reports promoted by anti-Muslim conspiracy theorists about the alleged gang rape of a young girl by three Syrian refugees.

The reports, which claim three boys sexually assaulted and then urinated on a 5-year-old special needs girl, have circulated on right-wing blogs and social media for a couple of weeks — but the county prosecutor said nearly every aspect of those claims was fabricated, reported the Idaho Statesman.

“There were no Syrians involved, there was no knife involved, there was no gang-rape,” said Grant Loebs, the Twin Falls County prosecutor.

The shocking reports are based on a real incident which has resulted in juvenile charges against two boys, but the prosecutor said few of the details reported on sites such as InfoWars and Creeping Sharia match evidence uncovered by investigators.

Three boys from Iraq and Sudan, ages 7, 10 and 14, were involved in the incident, which authorities said was recorded on cell phone video, but Loebs said the 5-year-old victim was not gang-raped.

The older boy did not touch the victim, Loebs said, and only one boy allegedly touched the girl.

The boys have been in the U.S. less than two years, officials believes, although police aren’t certain yet whether they’re refugees.

“It’s all absurd — there is no coverup at all,” Loebs said. “There is no motive to cover up. If they were Syrians, I would tell you they were Syrians and that we’re prosecuting three Syrian refugees. It wouldn’t bother me a bit to say that, but it bothers me if it’s not true.”

Police denied that it took officers two hours to arrive at the low-income apartment building, and Loebs said the initial call reported a possible crime that was “something a lot less serious than a sexual assault or lewd and lascivious conduct.”

Loeb knocked down reports that the boys’ fathers celebrated the attack with high-fives, and he blamed the inaccurate claims on anti-Muslim groups active in the Twin Falls area.

“There is a small group of people in Twin Falls County whose life goal is to eliminate refugees, and thus far they have not been constrained by the truth,” Loebs said. “They have not been constrained by the truth in the past, and I don’t expect them to be constrained by the truth in the future.”

 

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White Boys Put Rope Around Neck of Black Girl and Drag Her

This one is unbelievable in today’s world – and even worse, the school is trying to cover it up.

Rope burns on the neck of a 12-year-old girl who was allegedly dragged around by three white boys with a rope (Photo by Levi McCathern)

White boys put rope around black girl’s neck and dragged her while school looked other way: lawsuit

A shocking lawsuit this week alleges that officials at the Live Oak Classical School in Waco, Tx. looked the other way after three white boys put a rope around a 12-year-old black girl’s neck and dragged her around.

WacoTrib.com reports that Levi McCathern, the attorney representing the girl’s family, alleges that the girl was continuously bullied even as school officials downplayed her treatment. The $3 million lawsuit alleges negligence, gross negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress against the school.

The alleged incident took place during a school field trip to the Germer Ranch. The girl was watching some of her fellow students play on a rope swing when she suddenly felt a rope go around her neck. She subsequently slipped and fell to the ground while three white boys pulled on the rope, McCathern alleges.

“It looked like somebody had ripped her neck apart and stitched it back together,” the girl’s mother, Sandy Rougely, told The Dallas Morning News.

For its part, the school has claimed that the entire incident was an accident and the boys were just being playful when they put a rope around the girl’s neck. The Daily Beast flags some recently released emails between Sandy Rougely and school dean Allison Buras that show Buras tried really hard to downplay the seriousness of the incident.

“It sounds like he may have pushed on the back of her leg to make her leg buckle, which is something the kids sometimes do,” Buras wrote in one email. “Rarely is that done out of meanness but more out of a desire for sport.”

 

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BLM Activist Convicted For “Lynching”

Going back to the days of the Civil Rights Movement when Police spied on, persecuted, and murdered black leaders…

Black Lives Matter Activist Sentenced to 90 Days in Jail for ‘Lynching’

For the first time in American history, a Black woman has been convicted of “lynching.”

Last week, a California judge sentenced Jasmine Richards, a 28-year-old Black Lives Matter activist to 90 days in jail for lynching, defined in California as “the taking by means of a riot of another person from the lawful custody of a police officer”, reports Vox.

The conviction stems from an incident that took place last August, in which police were called because a Black woman had been accused of exiting a restaurant without paying.

As police attempted to arrest the woman, Richards, who was nearby at a Black Lives Matter protest, approached the officers. Video shows Richards standing by the woman, but police claim she was trying to pull her away.

Richards was arrested and charged with delaying and obstructing peace officers, inciting a riot, child endangerment and lynching.

Though other African-Americans in the state have been charged with lynching, Richards is the first to be convicted. Lawyers for Richards say that this is an attempt at silencing the activist.

“Clearly this is a political prosecution,” her attorney, Nana Gyamfi said to Vox. “Its intention is to stop people from organizing and from speaking out and challenging the system. There’s a political message that’s been sent by both the prosecutor and the police and, by conviction, the jury.”

 
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Posted by on June 9, 2016 in BlackLivesMatter

 

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BLM Activist Convicted of “Lynching”

Using a law to protect minorities against them…Not a single black person on the “jury”…Again.

What activist Jasmine Richards’s “lynching” conviction means for the Black Lives Matter movement

A court ruling in Pasadena, California, last week just set an unsettling precedent in the movement for black lives’ fight against police brutality.

Activist Jasmine Richards, a 28-year-old black woman and founder of Pasadena’s Black Lives Matter chapter, was convicted of felony lynching, a technical term in California penal code referring to “the taking by means of a riot of another person from the lawful custody of a peace officer.” Her sentencing is June 7.

On August 29, 2015, police responded to a 911 call after an altercation at a local park. The owner of a restaurant near the park told police an unidentified young black woman allegedly did not pay for her meal. Black Lives Matter supporters, including Richards, were already at the park after a peaceful protest earlier that day for Kendrec McDade, a 19-year-old unarmed black teenager who was killed by Pasadena police in 2012.

Video of the incident shows Black Lives Matter supporters, including Richards, run to the woman’s side as police attempt to arrest her. Richards was arrested two days later for trying to physically pull the woman away from police.

Richards was initially charged with inciting a riot, child endangerment, delaying and obstructing peace officers, and felony lynching. When the court announced the June 1 trial date, only the lynching charge remained.

Richards is not the first modern protester to be charged with lynching. Maile Hampton, a 20-year-old black woman, was arrested for “lynching” during a rally against police brutality in Sacramento in April 2015. Occupy Oakland activists Tiffany Tran and Alex Brown were charged in 2011, and Los Angeles Occupy activist Sergio Ballesteros was charged in 2012 for lynching while intervening in an arrest at the local Artwalk.

But in other cases, the charges were later dropped. Richards is the first African American convicted of “lynching” in the United States.

“Clearly this is a political prosecution,” Richards’s attorney, Nana Gyamfi, told Vox. “Its intention is to stop people from organizing, and from speaking out and challenging the system. There’s a political message that’s been sent by both the prosecutor and the police and, by conviction, the jury.”

The history behind California’s “lynching” law

Lynching typically refers to a violent Jim Crow–era tactic used to terrorize black communities. However, the language of California’s penal code does not speak to this history of racial violence specifically. It’s one of the reasons Gov. Jerry Brown removed the term from the state’s criminal code in July 2015 following Hampton’s arrest.

California’s anti-lynching law was enacted in 1933. That year, a vigilante mob of 10,000 people stormed a San Jose jail to seize Thomas Thurmond and John Holmes, two white men, who confessed to kidnapping and murdering of 22-year-old Brooke Hart, the son of a local storeowner. Tear gas did not stop the mob, and police guards were attacked.

After plucking them from the jail, the mob hung Thurmond and Holmes from trees in a nearby park. According to a 1933 report, Thurmond was “yanked to his doom in less time than it takes to tell it.”

No one was charged for Thurmond and Holmes’s deaths. Gov. James Rolph Jr. wasnationally criticized for condoning the vigilante violence. Still, Rolph signed an anti-lynching law, which was one of several passed by state lawmakers during that time.

The law was passed at a time when people were pressuring the federal government to intervene to stop vigilante lynchings of African Americans. In July 1922, the NAACP lobbied for a federal anti-lynching bill that was ultimately filibustered by the Senate. This would continue throughout the 1920s and ’30s. The last thorough national anti-lynching bill was introduced in 1937, and was similarly squashed. In fact, the Senate record was so bad that it approved a resolution in 2005 apologizing for its willful failure to act.

In the 1930s, California’s anti-lynching law was a sign of progress at a moment when the federal governmental failed to intervene.

Today, when activists like Richards are charged with “lynching,” this progressive law appears to be exploited to quell, not encourage, social change as it was originally intended….Read the Rest Here

 

 
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Posted by on June 6, 2016 in BlackLivesMatter

 

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The Waco Horror, and Its Aftermath

Lynching in the South was a method not only t maintain white supremacy, but to intimidate and blackmail the local minority populations into staying in line. The result of lynchings in the early 1900’s for a lot of the South was the Great Black Migration, and the loss of a large part of their workforce. One of the most violent lynchings was that of Jesse Washington in Waco Texas.

Around sundown of May 8, 1916, Lucy Fryer, the wife of a well regarded cotton farmer, was found bludgeoned to death in the doorway of her seed house. Jesse Washington, who was illiterate and branded “feeble-minded”, confessed to the murder.

Soon after a jury found him guilty, a crowd of 2,000 men seized Washington, chained him, beat him and dragged him to the town square, where he was burned.

His fingers were amputated for souvenirs and his fingernails taken for keepsakes. Finally all that was left was a charred torso, but Washington’s body parts were put in a bag so they could be dragged through downtown.

About 15,000 people, half of Waco’s population, had gathered to watch the lynching.

 

A mob gathers around to watch the lynching of Jesse Washington.

The “Waco Horror” still reverberates, 100 years later

Mary Pearson doesn’t need to be reminded of Jesse Washington’s lynching.

The Robinson resident grew up hearing the stories from her grandmother, a relative of the 17-year-old farmhand who was tortured to death on Waco’s town square a century ago last Sunday. The moral was never precisely stated, but the horror has stuck with Pearson all her 67 years.

Just after the boy received a death sentence for murdering his white employer, a mob seized him and dragged him to City Hall, where they doused him with coal oil and hanged him over a pile of burning wooden crates. They carved his charred body into souvenirs and dragged it around town.

But even more troubling for Pearson was what didn’t happen: Law enforcement didn’t intervene in the lynching, nor did anyone in a crowd of 15,000 spectators.

“All the folks were standing around, most of them were white, and nobody said anything, nobody stood up to try to do anything,” Pearson said in an interview with the Waco Tribune-Herald after a recent proclamation by Waco’s mayor condemning the lynching. “It’s a hurt and frustration even to think about it. … It can cause me a heavy depression.

“Every time I think about it, I get really angry and I have to ask the Lord to help me.”

White Waco spent most of the 20th century trying to forget the atrocity, dubbed the “Waco Horror” by the national press. The incident stood as a turning point in national anti-lynching efforts and helped bring to prominence the NAACP, the nation’s oldest civil rights organization. But the atrocity received no mention in local history books until the late 1960s and was largely ignored or downplayed locally until 1998, when Councilman Lawrence Johnson publicly called for a memorial to “atone” for the lynching.

Meanwhile, the story survived on the frequency of a whisper in corners of the black community, in the form of legends and admonitions to sons and daughters.

Forgetting became impossible in the mid-2000s, when a series of books, exhibits and news articles brought the incident again to national attention. In 2006, the Waco City Council and McLennan County commissioners passed a general condemnation of the area’s lynching past.

The Community Race Relations Coalition and the NAACP have headed an effort to commemorate the centennial this spring with a lecture series, a march and a push to get a state historical marker for the lynching. The observances culminated with a “town hall” meeting at the Bledsoe-Miller Community Center.

The centennial is not meant to reopen old racial wounds or cast blame on anyone now living, said Peaches Henry, a McLennan Community College assistant English professor and president of the Waco NAACP. Rather, it’s an opportunity to bring whites and blacks together to reflect on a difficult shared history.

“Here’s the importance of history: It allows us to remind ourselves of both the good and the bad, and then to correct our course,” she said.

Henry said the city and county resolution against lynching a decade ago was a good start. The question of Washington’s innocence or guilt aside, Henry said city and county leaders failed to uphold the rule of law and were complicit in a heinous crime of torture.

The recent proclamation by Mayor Malcolm Duncan Jr. went further and specifically referred to the “heinous lynching of Jesse Washington.”

“It’s important to call the names of those who were wronged,” Henry said. “The same was true of the woman (Lucy Fryer) who was murdered. She was someone’s mother, sister and cousin. She was also important. For the council to offer a proclamation naming Jesse Washington is very significant. It means that in the public record he is no longer invisible.”

Those involved in the commemorations say burying the past doesn’t keep it from haunting the present.

Scheherazade Perkins, 64, a member of the race relations board, grew up in Waco and graduated from the black A.J. Moore High School in 1969. She never heard of the lynching until she was an adult, but it helped explain anxieties she heard when she was growing up.

“Obviously there is much that has been done, much progress that has been made,” Perkins said. “But there are processes that still go on, an unspoken terror that still exists, that makes people want to stay under the radar. It makes them hesitant to come forward with concerns for fear that they will be not only labeled but mistreated.

“Some of that lingers, not only with the older people who were right on the fringes of the atrocity, but with those who pass the same sentiment down: ‘Boy, you need to watch your mouth, because you never know.’ ”

The centennial comes at a time of national debate and unrest over police killings of unarmed black males, such as Freddie Gray in Baltimore; Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri; and 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland. A Washington Post investigation found that 40 percent of unarmed men shot and killed by police in 2015 were black, even though black men make up only 6 percent of the population.

Henry, the local NAACP president, said she has high regard for Waco police leadership, but she still has anxieties for her own son, an Eagle Scout and college junior, wherever he goes.

“There’s the talk that every young African-American man receives: When you get pulled over, keep your hands on the steering wheel,” she said. “You never make a move without letting the officer know.

“There’s nothing about my son when he is walking or driving down the street that can protect him.”

It’s a more subtle version of the same fear that African-Americans had a century ago, Henry said…Read the Rest Here

 

 
 

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Central Park 5 Rally For Teacher

The Central Park Five case in the early 90’s was a modern day lynching and serves as a template of how young black men are demonized, and ultimately denied justice by racism. The case remains as a Hallmark of racial justice and injustice in the United States on a par with the Scottsboro Boys sham trial and attempted executions.

Recently a NYC High School Teacher made the story of the Central Park 5 part of her lesson plan on history. She was promptly fired.

Central Park Five: Rehire Teacher Allegedly Fired Over Central Park Five Lesson

Administrators reportedly were concerned the lessons would cause “riots” among black students.

Two of the five men who were wrongfully convicted in the 1989 rape and assault of a woman in Central Park have expressed support for a New York City teacher who says she lost her job after teaching students about the case.

“We support her 100 percent,” Raymond Santana, a member of a group known as the Central Park Five, told The Huffington Post. “We’ll probably rally for her — go to the courthouse. I want her to keep doing what she’s doing. I hope this doesn’t discourage her.” He believes the teacher should be reinstated, he added.

Raymond Santana, right, Kevin Richardson, and Yusef Salaam, left, all members of the Central Park Five, react to supporters Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013, in New York.

Jeena Lee-Walker, who taught English at the High School of the Arts, Imagination and Inquiry in Manhattan’s Upper West Side, filed a federal lawsuit last week alleging that administrators at the school feared her lessons on the Central Park Five might “rile up” black students and cause small “riots.” They asked her to take a more “balanced” approach in teaching students about the case, her lawsuit claims.

“I was stunned,” Lee-Walker told the Daily News Friday. “I was kind of like, the facts are the facts. This is what happened.”

Students, she told the paper, “and black students in particular, should be riled up.”

Trailer for the Documentary –

Headline From the NY Daily News Creating the Term “Wilding” to describe out o control minority youth. A term which would enter the lexicon after being repeated again and again by periodicals and TV news around the country.

“It was awesome — they were so engaged,” she said of teaching her students about the Central Park Five, adding that they were “really moved” by a 2012 documentaryon the subject. “They really identified with the teenagers.”

Lee-Walker says she received a series of bad performance reviews, and was ultimately fired, in retaliation for pushing back against criticism from administrators over her Central Park Five lessons.

Santana, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam, Kevin Richardson and Korey Wise — all black and Latino men — were all under 16 years old when they were each arrested in 1989 for the beating and rape of Trisha Melli, a 28-year-old investment banker. The brutal attack dominated headlines, with the city’s tabloids stirring racially charged fears of “wilding” groups of violent black and Latino teenagers across the city.

Police zeroed in on the five teens, all of whom had reportedly been in or near Central Park at the time of the attack.

Each teen confessed to the crime during 24 hours of interrogation, but later claimed their statements had been coerced by police. They were all nevertheless convicted and sentenced to prison in 1990. (At the time, billionaire businessman and current Republican front-runner Donald Trump called for their execution.)

Santana, McCray, Salaam and Richardson each spent nearly six years in prison. Wise spent nearly 13 years in prison.

The convictions against the men were vacated in 2002 after a New York inmate named Matias Reyes confessed to raping Melli. Then-Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau announced that DNA evidence from the crime scene matched Reyes’ DNA.

In 2014, the city agreed to pay the five men a total of $40 million to settle a federal lawsuit they had filed. …Read the rest Here

 
 

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Remembering Rosewood

In about 1820, due to the new “Black Codes” implemented in Virginia denying gun rights to free blacks, my g-g-g-Grandfather and Uncle petitioned the Court as free black men to have the ability to carry guns. They lived in a rural area of Virginia, not far from where Virginia Tech University is located in Blacksburg, Va. They owned fairly productive land on the banks of the New River which winds and wanders for 350 miles though North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia, and is the only river I know of in America which travels north, it eventually joins the Ohio River.

The family had settled the area, then considered the “Frontier”, shortly after the Revolutionary War, along with other free black families – some of whom won their freedom by fighting on the side of the British, and less frequently the Colonial Armies. They had built a “Plantation” on a large tract of land, adjoining one of the most prosperous white settlers in the area of the time, with whom they regularly traded tools and equipment manufactured by them for other manufactured goods, and perhaps labor.

One of the biggest fears at that time by free blacks was “slave catchers” an unscrupulous and bankrupt group of individuals who would on opportunity kidnap and family member they could get their hands on to sell into slavery further South. Aside from dangers of the native wildlife (bears and Mountain Lion were common at that time), they had to keep an eye out for the slavers in the sparsely populated area. The answer quite simply was, the slavers went up the mountain…and never came down. I confirmed this family legend one year while hunting on the property and discovering the entrance to a limestone cavern, and upon going back to get a bright spotlight to look in, finding the skeletons of at least half a dozen bodies at the bottom of the shaft, one of which appears to have had the remnants of a confederate uniform. Of course, nobody knew when the slavers would sneak into the area, as their business was illegal even by the laws of the time, and they didn’t exactly report their presence to. the local sheriff.

The bothers petitioned the court for the right to (continue to) carry guns as local landowners and citizens and won. Somewhere in the family there is an old octagon barrel Kentucky style rifle which belonged to them. In my inherited collection is one 44-40 Winchester rifle going back to the 1870’s that belonged to one of their sons or grandsons. At nearly 150 years old it certainly isn’t fire-able, even if you could find black powder cartridges for it. The fact that they continued to defend the home place from nefarious scumbags is evidenced by the dead confederate, placing their activity as late as the 1860’s during or after the Civil War.

With the emergence of the Second KKK in 1900, attacks on black communities, often for flimsily manufactured reasons and lynching s accelerated until “Red Summer” in 1919. What radically changed was that the black soldiers who had fought in WWI came home, not only with military training but sometimes with their rifles. Resulting in blacks fighting back against the wholesale community attacks similar to those in Rosewood and Tulsa,  in the “race riots” in Washington, DC, Chicago, IL, and Knoxville, TN – where things were substantially less one sided. Faced with folks who would shoot back, and not easy victims… The KKK and other racist organizations…blinked. It didn’t stop the lynchings – but it was no longer safe to attack a large black community. One of the things forgotten by history is that the folks in Tulsa did set up a defense, and the center of the town was designed to be defense-able. They just didn’t have enough guns. Rosewood was a small community of only about 16 houses.

With the rise of the Fourth KKK, or the Fourth Reich under Trump, and his like minded cohort of fools in the Reich Wing Clown Bus, at least to my belief, it is time for the black communities, and individuals to arm up again. We need to take the attitude of the Jews, “Never Forget”. Now this doesn’t mean going to to the store and buying a little Glock popgun pistol. The only reason any US Army soldiers carry a pistol, is to have a little something when their rifle runs out of ammo. They know full well that a guy and his “9” will last about a NY millisecond against someone armed with an AK, or AR-15 variant rifle… Or even a modern shotgun.

Sometimes the only way to get peace is out of the barrel of a gun. White people are not your enemy, but those deluded racist fools following the neo-fascist right, who happen to be white, are. We seem to be barreling down the road to a parallel with Nazi Germany, where a virulent minority can grab control of an entire nation. I don’t know about you – but I ain’t going in that cattle car peacefully in this here New American Reich.

Rosewood…After the Massacre

Remembering Rosewood: The racist lie that set off the destruction of a black Florida community

Four black schoolchildren raced home along a dirt road in Archer, Florida, in 1944, kicking up a dust cloud wake as they ran. They were under strict orders from their mother to run – not lollygag or walk or jog, but run – directly home after hitting the road’s curve.

The littlest, six-year-old Lizzie Robinson (now Jenkins), led the pack with a brother on each side and her sister behind carrying her books.

“And I would be [running], my feet barely touching the ground,” Jenkins, now 77, said at her home in Archer.

Despite strict adherence to their mother’s orders, the siblings weren’t told why they should race home. To the children, it was one of several mysterious dictates issued during childhood in the Jim Crow south.

As Jenkins tells it, the children didn’t know why Amos ’n’ Andy was often interrupted by revving engines and calls from her father to “Go upstairs now!”, or why aunt Mahulda Carrier, a schoolteacher, fled to the bedroom each time a car drove down their rural road.

Explanations for demands to hide came later, when Jenkins’s mother, Theresa Brown Robinson, whispered to her daughter the story of violence that befell the settlement of Rosewood in 1923.

The town was 37 miles south-east of Archer on the main road to the Gulf. Carrier worked there as the schoolteacher, while living with her husband Aaron Carrier. On New Year’s Day 1923, a white woman told her husband “a nigger” assaulted her, a false claim that precipitated a week of mob violence that wiped the prosperous black hamlet off the map, and led to the near lynching of Aaron Carrier.

Jenkins now believes that all of it – the running, calls to go upstairs, her aunt fleeing to the bedroom – was a reaction to a message her parents received loud and clear: don’t talk about Rosewood, ever, to anyone.

But after Jim Crow laws lifted, and lynch mob justice was no longer a mortal threat, survivors did begin to talk. So egregious were the stories of rape, murder, looting, arson and neglect by elected officials, that Florida investigated the claims in a 1993 report.

That led to a law that eventually compensated then elderly victims $150,000 each, and created a scholarship fund. The law, which provided $2.1m total for the survivors, improbably made Florida one of the only states to create a reparations program for the survivors of racialized violence, placing it among federal programs that provided payments to Holocaust survivors and interned Japanese Americans.

News of Florida’s reparations program ran nationwide when it was passed in 1994, on the front page of the Wall Street Journal among others. Hollywood picked up the tale. Don Cheadle starred in a 1997 film about the pogrom. Several books were written about Rosewood.

Though the legislation was never called such, the program now represents one of just a handful of reparations cases in the United States, as calls to compensate victims of racialized violence have grown louder in the last two years.

2015 brought renewed calls to compensate victims of race-related violence from college students, theologians and criminal justice advocates. The city of Chicago started a $5.5m reparations fund for the more than 100 victims tortured at the hands of police commander Jon Burge.

Last month, students at Georgetown University demanded that the administration set aside an endowment to recruit black professors equal to the profit from an 1838 slave sale that paid off university debt. The 272 slaves were sold for $400 each, the equivalent of about $2.7m today. One day after protests began, students successfully renamed a residence hall named after Thomas Mulledy, the university president who oversaw the sale (it was renamed Freedom Hall).

At least one progressive Christian theologian is pushing Protestants to reckon their own history with slavery with reparations. In 2014, Atlantic writer Ta-Nehisi Coates breathed fresh life into the debate in his widely lauded article The Case for Reparations .

Rosewood burning

Where Rosewood once stood is now little more than a rural scrubland along state road 24, a lonely highway in central Florida bordered by swamp, slash pine and palmetto. A placard on the side of the road describes the horror visited upon the hamlet.

But in 1923, the settlement was a small and prosperous predominantly black town, with its own baseball team, a masonic temple and a few hundred residents. It was just three miles from the predominantly white town of Sumner, and 48 miles from Gainesville.

On New Year’s Day 1923, white Sumner resident Fannie Taylor was bruised and beaten when her husband returned home. The Taylors were white, and the residents of Sumner were in near universal agreement that Fannie’s assailant was black.

A crowd swelled in Sumner to find the “fugitive”, some from as far away as Gainesville, where the same day the Klu Klux Klan held a high-profile parade. Over the next seven days gangs of hundreds delivered lynch mob justice to the once-affluent town of Rosewood.

“I blame the deputy sheriff,” Robie Mortin, a Rosewood survivor, told the Seminole Tribune in 1999. “Because that lady never dropped a name as to who did what to her. Just said a negro, black man. But when the sheriff came along with his posse and everything, he put a name to the person: Jesse Hunter.”

Mortin died in 2010 at age 94 in Riviera Beach, Florida. She was believed to be one of the last survivors of the New Year’s riots in 1923. After years of silence she became one of the most vocal. Though Florida completed an investigation into the events that took place in Rosewood, some narratives remain disputed.

“They didn’t find Jesse Hunter, but noticed that here’s a bunch of niggers living better than us white folks. That disturbed these people,” Mortin said. Her uncle, Sam Carter, is believed to have taken the man who beat Taylor, a fellow Mason, to safety in Gulf Hammock, a few miles away. When Carter returned he was tortured, shot and lynched by the mob looking for Taylor’s assailant.

“My grandma didn’t know what my uncle Sammy had done to anybody to cause him to be lynched like that,” Mortin told the Tribune. “They took his fingers and his ears, and they just cut souvenirs away from him. That was the type of people they were.”

Carter is believed to be the first of eight documented deaths associated with the riots that would worsen over the next three days.

The settlement itself was wiped off the map. Several buildings were set on fire just a few days after New Year’s, and the mob wiped out the remainder of the town a few days later, torching 12 houses one by one. At the time, the Gainesvile Sun reported a crowd of up to 150 people watched the dozen homes and a church set ablaze. Even the dogs were burned.

“The burning of the houses was carried out deliberately and although the crowd was present all the time, no one could be found who would say he saw the houses fired,” a Sun report said, describing the scene.

At least two white men died, including CP “Poly” Wilkerson of Sumner and Henry Andrews of Otter Creek, when they attempted to storm a house Rosewood residents had barricaded themselves in.

A state report on the violence identifies murdered black Rosewood residents as Sam Carter, matriarch Sarah Carrier, James Carrier, Sylvester Carrier and Lexie Gordon. Mingo Williams, a black man who lived nearby, was also killed by the mob.

Aaron Carrier, Mahulda’s husband and Jenkins’s uncle, was nearly killed when he was dragged behind a truck and tortured on the first night of the riots. At death’s door, Carrier was spirited away by the Levy county sheriff, Bob Walker, she said, and placed in jail in Bronson as a favor to the lawman.

Mahulda was captured later the same night by the mob, Jenkins said, and tortured before Walker eventually found her.

“They got Gussie, that was my aunt’s name, they tied a rope around her neck, however they didn’t drag her, they put her in the car and took her to Sumner. Don’t know if you know – a southern tradition is to build a fire … and to stand around the fire and drink liquor and talk trash,” Jenkins said.

“So they had her there, like she was the [accused], and they were the jury, and they were trying to force her into admitting a lie. ‘Where was your husband last night?’ ‘He was at home in bed with me.’ They asked her that so many times so she got indignant with them … And they said, ‘She’s a bold bitch – let’s rape the bitch.’ And they did. Gang style.”

Another Rosewood resident, James Carrier, was shot over the fresh graves of his brother and mother after several men captured and interrogated him. He was first told to dig his own grave, but couldn’t because two strokes had paralyzed one arm. The men left his body splayed over the graves of his family members.

But despite widespread coverage of the incident – the governor was even notified via telegram – the state did nothing.

Not for one month, when it appears a feeble attempt to indict locals was made by a grand jury, after all the residents of Rosewood had long fled into the nearby swamps and settlements of central Florida.

The oral history of Rosewood was a secret, passed through several families with each recipient sworn to silence, as black Americans endured decades of terror in Florida. When Jenkins was six her parents would have had fresh memories of lynchings.

From 1877 to 1950, the county where the Robinsons lived, Alachua, had among the largest sheer volume of lynchings of any community in the nation, according to the Equal Justice Initiative. Per capita, Florida lynched more people than any other state. And counties surrounding Alachua were not friendlier.

Hernando, Citrus, Lafayette and Taylor counties had some of the highest per capita rates of lynchings in the country. By volume, nearby Marion and Polk counties had among the most in the US.

Legislation, reparations and state reckons with ugly past

The story only came to light in 1982, after a reporter at the then St Petersburg Times exposed the forgotten riot. The reporter, Gary Moore, had traveled to Cedar Key, 10 miles south-west of Rosewood on the coast, to explore a Sunday feature on the rural Gulf town.

“Like the public at large, I personally had never heard of Rosewood,” Moore wrote in a synopsis of research published in the 1993 report that was submitted to the Florida Board of Regents. “I held dim assumptions that any such incident would long ago have been thoroughly researched and publicized by historians, sociologists, anthropologists, advocacy organizations, or others.”

That it wasn’t, Moore blamed on “psychological denial” and “blindness”.

“There were many things thought better left unquestioned,” Moore reasoned.

By 1993, before the report was issued, Moore’s story had made a wide impact, becoming a 60 Minutes documentary and earning follow-ups by other news outlets. Moore, however, recounted in detail his struggle for academic and political acceptance of the narrative, and said even 11 years after his story appeared many attempted to deny the massacre occurred.

One of Moore’s sources, Arnett Doctor, would later devote much of his life to lobbying for Rosewood reparations. Doctor, a descendant of survivors, spent untold hours eliciting detailed narratives of the event from survivors. He is often cited as the“driving force” behind the reparations bill, as the man who brought his findings to high-powered attorneys at Holland & Knight, who helped lobby the legislature for reparations.

Doctor died at the age of 72 in March 2015, in Spring Hill, Florida, a few hours south of Rosewood.

“We deliberately avoided anything but compensation for the losses they incurred,” said Martha Barnett, an attorney at Holland & Knight who helped lobby the Florida legislature on behalf of the survivors of Rosewood. Barnett said the term “reparations” can’t be found in the law passed in Florida.

Instead, attorneys focused on private property rights. She said she and other attorneys needed “to make it something legislators could find palatable in the deep south some 20-some years ago”.

Barnett said the then Democratic governor, Lawton Chiles, promised his support from the beginning. By April 1994, the House passed a bill to compensate victims of the attack with a 71-40 vote. Four days later, on 9 April 1994, the Senate passed a matching bill with a vote of 26-14, to cries of “Praise the lord!” from those Rosewood descendants present.

“It’s time for us to send an example, a shining example, that we’re going to do what’s right – for once,” Democratic senator Matthew Meadows said at the time. Chiles diedless than four years after signing the bill.

Now, near Rosewood, Rebel flags are common. Businesses bear the name, and some locals would be as happy to again forget the incident.

Information on the pogrom is notably muted in some local historical societies.

“What it takes to make someone whole, what it takes to repair the past, is probably different for every person, and some things are more effective than others,” said Barnett.

Many of the survivors invested the money they received into their homes. Willie Evans, 87 when he received the $150,000 payment in 1995, put a new roof , windows and doors on his home. Mortin considered traveling to Greece. Jenkins’s mother, who received $3,333.33 from the fund, placed ledgers on the graves of her sister, three brothers and parents.

“The thing that mattered most to [survivors] was that the state of Florida said, ‘We had an obligation to you as our citizens, we failed to live up to it then, we are going to live up to it today, and we are sorry,’” Barnett said.

For Doctor, whose own identity seemed wrapped up in the Rosewood story (the license plate on his truck read “ROSEWOOD” ), even the unique success of the legislation was not enough. He dreamed of rebuilding the town.

“The last leg of the [healing process] is the redevelopment and revitalization of a township called Rosewood,” Doctor told the Tampa Bay Times in 2004 , as the plaque along State Road 24 was dedicated by then governor Jeb Bush. “If we could get $2bn, $3bn of that we could effect some major changes in Levy County.”

 

 

 

 
 

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