Covering Up A Lynching-The Ugly Case of Alfred Wright
“They’ll lynch you in Texas as quickly as they’ll lynch you in Mississippi. Only in Texas they lynch you with a Texas ac-cent; in Mississippi they lynch you with a Mississippi accent…”
Malcolm X, The Ballot or the Bullet, April 12, 1964
Is mainstream media apart of the cover up of the Alfred Wright lynching case? For all that has been revealed about this horrible case, revealed by the people themselves no less, it has been next to impossible to find a mainstream media article other than a sound initial investigative piece done by CNN to find an article that spells out what is known to have happened to this point in its development!
The last people’s mobilization is awful case in point.
On April 7th, the New Black Panther Party organized its second rally demanding justice for this well-liked young man, who was found on November 25th with his eyes gouged out, his throat cut, an ear cut off and his teeth knocked out and with a shiny dime placed next to the body, after disappearing suddenly on November 7th.
In story after story from mainstream media outlets, almost none of them will say ‘how’ Wright was found as just described. They will acknowledge the local autopsy calling the death as a drug overdose. Some have in a stealth way acknowledged that the family had to get their own autopsy done, but they will not say what it revealed, that the mutilation, the eyes gouged out, the cut throat, and so forth, and not to mention blunt force trauma to the head and upper body, are indications of a homicide!
The rally was to dramatize the role of a lead Texas Ranger Danny Young in the cover up of the case. The Party was joined by the National Black United Front, the Nation Of Islam, the Texas Abolitionist Society, Jay Morrison of Young Minds Can and members of Wright’s father’s church in nearby Jasper and Wright’s parents and friends.
The Party, who led a caravan of supporters from Houston listening to The Ballot Or The Bullet by Malcolm 50 years ago incredibly, was originally going to do an armed demonstration like the first one they did in Hemphill, where Wright was found, to send a message to all sides that African-Americans were not going to sit back on a lynching, that they were going to do whatever is necessary to protect themselves! To keep that from being made ‘the issue’, the Party instead organized a more conventional mobilization. The participants gathered and rallied peacefully outside of the Rangers’ headquarters in Jasper. Each speaker simply laid out the purpose of their solidarity and participation and brought out some key aspect of the killing and the cover up. The annexed footage shows the family’s spokesperson Jay Morrison, in a very CT Vivian kind of way, appealing to the conscious and “common sense” of the phalanx of Rangers arrayed to “protect” the headquarters. Just as interestingly, this same footage does not come from any of these media outlets. It comes instead from Yatori Kupenda, a former law enforcement professional who helped organize the people’s search team for Rev. Douglas Wright, Alfred’s father, after the Rangers’ ended their four day search. It was Kupenda, who actually found the body in the area where the Rangers’ and local law enforcement said they already searched. They then had to stand guard over Wright’s body overnight until some credible authority figure could take proper responsibility!
None of that was properly treated by the stories that followed!
All of that happened! None of that was properly treated by the press.
The rally was disciplined and peaceful.
At the rally’s end, to heighten the drama and sense of urgency on the issue, Krystal Muhammad, the national chairperson for the New Black Panther Party, and principal organizer of the demonstration, sought to bring the key players, including Alfred’s mother, Rosalind, into the building to formalize their demands to have Young address them. They were denied entry by the phalanx of Rangers who then began pushing the organizers away from the door! In their backwards obsession with securing the property, the Rangers even knocked an 84 year woman down to the ground!
Embarrassed by the senselessness of that and now confronted with a more angry crowd, the Rangers retreated and locked the building down. They would re- emerge on the outside! Two mainstream media outlets were there, camera’s rolling, got all of that footage. Yet none of the stories ran how all of that went down.
By the way, CNN was nowhere to be found after having done a meaningful investigation when the story broke.
Gloria Rubac of the Texas Death Penalty Abolitionist Movement, a Texas organizing legend in her own right made these telling observations. “The only people who were physical were the DPS cops who pushed and shoved and aggressively knocked down 84 year elder Jean Dember. In their attempt to cover up the hate crime committed against Alfred Wright, the DPS troopers acted like storm troopers,” she finished emphatically.
In such a racially charged case, it should be noted that Rubac is white and Dember is black. Rubac was also one of many who tried to move in protect Dember once that happened.
Baba Zayid Muhammad, the Party’s east coast based national minister of culture summed up this ongoing story this way.
“The Justice Department should move in aggressively like they did in the James Byrd case, in response to Khallid moving the troops in on the Klan, I must add, and not just take over the case for ‘possible civil rights violations,’ which actually puts very strict legal limits on what they can do. They should also bring in that arm of the Justice Department that addresses official corruption. That will give them the framework to not just solve Alfred’s lynching, but to address the corruption, which may involve drug trafficking on top of underground racist terror, of that entrenched racist network that criminally covered up the crime.”
Black press should appreciate other dimensions of the story.
Although area Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee did request Justice Department intervention, the Department itself has been pathetically quiet in response to this ordeal. They are currently “monitoring” the case!
If this was an Al-Queda terror case, would this same critical instrumentality of power and justice be so quiet and careful?
The history of lynching absolutely has to factor into appreciating the human dimensions and horror of this story!
Krystal Muhammad asserted that DannyYoung had been a character to witness for Shawn Berry, one of the convicted lynchers of James Byrd!
The key responses to what was happening by Rev. Wright, were informed by his own memory of how his father, Rev. Clovis V. Wright had to endure his church being burned by the Klan in Philadelphia, Mississippi in Freedom Summer 1964 in the aftermath of the Klan slaying of Civil Rights workers, Schwerner, Goodman and Chaney. Lynching and Klan terror were not historical abstractions for Rev. Wright, it is something he witnessed and survived in his lifetime ‘before’ his son taken from him!
Then finally there are other historical and cultural factors that should be appreciated. When Amadou Diallo was savagely slaughtered in a hail of 42 gun shots for having his keys in hands in 1999, his parents told the incredible story of how when Amadou was born his grandfather foreshadowed that this grandson will somehow bring together “our people on both sides of the big sea,” referring to the Atlantic Ocean. The grandfather was correct, but he could not foreshadow that it would be the ugly racist slaughter of his grandson that would be the catalyst for that happening.
In this case, we not only have a young black man who was married to a white woman, the first possible motive, we have his parents, pastoring in Jasper, the scene of the recent lynching of James Byrd, and who have an activist presence in their own right, especially on the education front, advocating for area Black youth, parents and educators, as Rosalind Wright detailed to the public and to the press after the rally.
Then Mrs. Wright told this chilling story of Alfred’s own premonition, as did Alfred’s sister later, that just several days before his disappearance, Alfred told them lightheartedly, “Ma, when the Lord takes me, it’s going to be a big deal.” Like Amadou Diallo’s grandfather a few years ago, he too was near prophetically correct. He had no way of knowing that his death would become one of the ugliest hate crimes of our historical moment.
The Party and the family have forged a coalition of Black families who have been victimized by ‘extrajudicial violence,’ referring to racist hate violence as in this case, police brutality and ‘stand your ground’ violence. The coalition includes family of lynching victim Emmit Till, Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis, whose sons were taken on the racist ‘stand your ground’ premises. They are already contemplating a major action on August 28th in Washington to mark the anniversary of Till’s vicious, but galvanizing, lynching of 1955 when he was only 14…