10.09.2008

Jasper-Style Lynching? Reporting on the Grounds in Paris, Texas


Written by Jesse Muhammad

On Saturday, October 4, I received a serious phone call from Krystal Muhammad of the New Black Panther Party (NBPP) in regards to a possible dragging death in Paris, Texas which is located about five hours north of Houston. The first thing that immediately came to my mind was that 2008 is the tenth anniversary of the lynching of James Byrd, Jr. in Jasper, Texas. Liken unto that case, the victim in Paris was said to be a 24-year-old Black man and his killers were two White men.

I immediately Googled the town and saw that there were only a handful of media outlets that had covered the story which involved Brandon McClelland and these two White males. One reason possibly that there was hardly any coverage was that this killing took place on September 16, which was the tail end of Hurricane Ike hitting landfall so I am sure the town officials were hoping this would be swept under the rug. Too bad, because the Final Call is on top of it!

Sister Kyrtle told me that members of the NBPP Dallas Chapter were on the grounds already to meet with the family. So myself, Sis Krystle and my older brother Deric Muhammad hit the road on Sunday, October 5 to do some on the grounds work to see what really happened.

After a five hour drive, we arrived in the 'hood of Paris. We then caravaned over to the home of the McClelland family where Brandon's mother sat on the porch with tears in her eyes. Ms. Jacqueline McClelland and her family gave recorded statements to me for my Final Call story as well as the NBPP for an independent investigation. We were also joined by local activists, a head of the State NAACP chapter and other friends of the family.



After hearing their accounts, it was verified that her son was dragged on the back of a pickup truck by these two White males and his body was dismembered. Jasper all over again. Afterwards we drove over to the grave site.



We then went to the scene of the crime in Lamar County. You would not believe that parts of that Brandon McClelland's skull was still out there on the ground! Shows how much the police cared. It was like an episode of CSI:NY with blood tracks up and down the road and tire marks chased by the blood trails. This was one of the most painful stories I have had to cover in person.

“They tied my son to that truck and drugged him until his body parts were detached”, said his mother Jacqueline McClelland to the Final Call. “His body was so destroyed that it could not even be embalmed by the funeral home. This is a hate crime. I don’t want the death penalty for these killers because that would be too quick. I want them to suffer for life in jail without parole since I will never have my son back.”

Read my entire story in next week's edition of the Final Call Newspaper. Here are some more exclusive photos.










26 comments:

  1. Send your blog to the NEXT individual or group who claims that racism is no longer an issue in this country...

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  2. Wow Brother! this story was wept completely under the rug. This shows where we are as a people in Babylon for the mainstream news to keep it hush hush. Peace.

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  3. Wow! Talk about Jasper ALL over again!

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  4. greetings Bro. Jesse!

    quite a compelling story, give thanks for you and the Final Call for shedding light on this.

    i blog about this here.

    has your story in the Final Call newspaper about this come out yet?

    i am looking forward to reading it.

    peace!

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  5. My heart goes out to every Black mother who must bury a child; however, this type of nefarious activity compounds a Black mother's grief. We stay in a constant state of angst every time our sons or the men we love in our lives are out of our sight.
    This only verifies that a "segment of our population" will always possess a character and spirit with a propensity for being and acting in a morally and spiritually despicable manner.
    Keep up the good work and continue to send vehement outcries against these atrocities. BE SAFE
    Gwyn Muhammad

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  6. This young man was run over and it was murder - but he was NOT dragged behind a truck like James Byrd in Jasper was. The 2 people arrested for this are charged with murder - and the white boy has a black gang tattoo on his leg. He was not a racist, he was the victim's friend. You all are trying to stir up racist trouble where there is none. The 2 boys will be tried for murder and should be, but it was not a hate crime. Don't do this for money, don't try to get sympathy money out of folks - that's just wrong.

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  7. @Last Anonymous Post---I thank you for your comment but if you had the opportunity to visit the crime scene like we did you would see that a mere hit from a vehicle could NOT spread blood over 60 feet down a road and there were blood trails following the path of tire tracks.

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  8. I am new to your site, but I will be back to follow this case. It turns my stomach, but hey, Obama was just hung in effigy in front of some idiot's house, the vermin are coming out of the woodwork as Obama nears victory. My heart goes out to the family. All the evidence speaks of a hate crime
    and nothing less than total justice
    will be worth anything.

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  9. That's right - it's about money for these folks. Why don't you ask Momma Cotton where all the donations went that poured in from all over the nation? The county taxpayers foot the more than $20,000 lawyer bill for her to appeal - yet there was money donated for her "legal defense" and the sale of T-shirts.

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  10. I am beyond tears...I just read about this murder yesterday and am completely appalled that this sort of atrocity has again happened within our state. I know that my words can't extend the amount of solidarity that I have for Brandon's family. Fuck this racist nation that is led by wolves and followed by sheep. Brandon's family is in my thoughts, and my rage extends beyond words. I am equally disgusted that no "major news outlets" have reported this murder. Yet another example of how racist our nation is. If those of us who are 300 miles away can ever do anything to assist the family...please reach out to us. Again, much love and solidarity.

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  11. On June 7, 1998, Byrd, 49, accepted a ride from three drunk men named Shawn Allen Berry, Lawrence Russell Brewer, and John William King. He had already known one of them. Instead of taking him home, the three men beat Byrd behind a convenience store, chained him by the ankles to their pickup truck, stripped the man naked, and dragged him for three miles. Although Lawrence Russell Brewer claimed that Byrd's throat had been slashed before he was dragged, forensic evidence suggests that Byrd had been attempting to keep his head up, and an autopsy suggested that Byrd was alive for much of the dragging and died after his right arm and head were severed when his body hit a culvert. His body had caught a sewage drain on the side of the road resulting in Byrd's decapitation. [1].

    King, Berry, and Brewer dumped their victim's mutilated remains in the town's black cemetery, and then went to a barbecue. A wrench inscribed with "Berry" was found within the area along with a lighter that had "Possum" written on it, which was King's prison nickname. [2].

    The next morning, Byrd's limbs were scattered across a very little-used road. The police found 75 places littered with Byrd's remains. State law enforcement officials along with Jasper’s District Attorney Guy James Gray and Assistant Pat Hardy determined that since King and Brewer were well-known white supremacists, the murder was a hate crime, and decided to bring in the FBI less than 24 hours after the discovery of Byrd’s remains. One of Byrd's murderers, John King, had a tattoo depicting a black man hanging from a tree, and other tattoos such as Nazi symbols, the words "Aryan Pride," and the patch for the Confederate Knights of America, a gang of white supremacist inmates. [3] In a jailhouse letter to Brewer which was intercepted by jail officials, King expressed pride in the crime and said he realized he might have to die for committing it. "Regardless of the outcome of this, we have made history. Death before dishonor. Sieg Heil!", King wrote. [1]

    Brewer and King were sentenced to death. Berry received life in prison.

    Numerous aspects of the Byrd murder echo lynching traditions, including mutilation or decapitation, and revelry, such as a barbecue or a picnic, during or after.


    [edit] The Perpetrators
    John King - accused of beating Byrd with a bat and then dragging him behind a truck until he died. King had previously claimed to have been gang-raped in prison by black prisoners[4] and, although he had no previous record of racism, had joined a white-supremacist prison gang, allegedly for self-protection. The testimony phase of his trial started in Jasper, Texas on February 16, 1999. He was found guilty of kidnapping and murder on February 23 and was sentenced to death on February 25.

    Lawrence Russell Brewer - another white supremacist convicted of murdering Byrd. Prior to the Byrd murder, Brewer had served a prison sentence for drug possession and burglary, and he was paroled in 1991. After violating the parole in 1994, he was sent back to prison. According to his court testimony, he joined a white supremacist gang with King in order to safeguard himself from other prisoners.[5] A state psychiatrist testified that Brewer did not appear repentant for his crimes. In the end, Brewer was also sentenced to death.

    Shawn Allen Berry - The driver of the truck, Berry was the most difficult to convict of the three defendants because there was a lack of evidence to suggest that he himself was a racist. He had also claimed that his two companions were entirely responsible for the crime. Brewer testified that it was Berry who cut Byrd's throat before he was tied to the truck, but the jury decided that there was little evidence to indicate this.[6] As a result, Berry was spared the death penalty and given a life sentence in prison.


    [edit] Reactions to the murder
    Byrd's murder was strongly condemned by Jesse Jackson and the Martin Luther King Center as an act of vicious racism and focused national attention on the prevalence of white supremacist prison gangs. Two of the three defendants, who were later tried and convicted for the murder, had allegedly joined such gangs while imprisoned in Texas.

    The victim's family created the James Byrd Foundation for Racial Healing after his death. In 2003, a movie about the crime, called Jasper, Texas, was produced and shown on Showtime. The same year, a documentary called Two Towns of Jasper, made by filmmakers Marco Williams and Whitney Dow, premiered on PBS's P.O.V. series.

    Basketball star Dennis Rodman offered to pay for Byrd's funeral. Although Byrd's family declined this offer, they accepted a $25,000 donation by Rodman to a fund started to support Byrd's family.

    While at the CBS-owned WARW radio station in Washington, D.C., DJ Doug Tracht (AKA The Greaseman) made a derogatory comment about James Byrd after playing Lauryn Hill's song "Doo Wop (That Thing)"[7]. The February 1999 incident proved catastrophic to his radio career, igniting protests from black and white listeners alike. Tracht was quickly fired from WARW and lost his position as a volunteer deputy sheriff in Falls Church, Virginia.


    [edit] A campaign issue
    Some advocacy groups, such as the NAACP National Voter Fund, made an issue of this case during George W. Bush's presidential campaign in 2000. They accused him of implicit racism, since as governor, he opposed special hate crime legislation and, citing a prior commitment, Bush declined to appear at Byrd's funeral. Because two of the three murderers were sentenced to death and the third to a life term in prison (all charged with and convicted of capital murder, the highest felony level in Texas), Governor Bush maintained that "we don't need tougher laws."

    After Governor Rick Perry inherited the rest of George W. Bush's unexpired term, the 77th Texas Legislature passed the James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Act on May 11, 2001.


    [edit] Family
    Ross Byrd, the only son of James, has been involved with the organization called Murder Victims' Families for Reconciliation, an anti-death penalty group. He has campaigned to spare the life of those who murdered his father and appears briefly in the documentary Deadline About The Death Penalty in Illinois.

    Let's read more people!

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  12. I was in a numb state for a period of time to know that this is still happening and people are getting away with it and how there seem to be no remorse in this racist State. I live it many days in NY. The hate us but in the work place they have no choice but to work with us and live among us. But you could still see the hate and feelo it among some and that is because it is still taught at home. Whatever can be done to punish each and everyone that is in this state that is turning a deaf ear to these behavior. My heart goes out to the family. Keep praying for these haters, they will get theirs soon from our creator.
    Jill, NY.

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  13. WOW! WOW! THIS WASN'T IN THE LARGE CITY PAPERS.. THANK GOD FOR BRO. JESSE REPORTS ON THIS BRUTAL SLAUTHERING OF AN HUMAN BEING. WHEN WILL AMERICA FACE THAT WITHOUT US, (PEOPLE OF COLOR) AMERICA WOULDN'T SURVIVE. WE NEED EACH OTHER, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER YOU LIKE PEOPLE OF COLOR OR NOT..I HOPE THAT THE FBI AND OTHER LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES WILL SEEK THE INDIVIDUALS RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS CRIME.

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  14. I am just tired of all this hate. When will I as a black male not have to fear for my life or be judged by the content of my character and not my skin?


    No More Hate

    I am judged, convicted, and executed before being crowned at birth.
    Every moment of my life, and every breath that I take, I constantly fight to prove my worth.
    My shoulders are strong from the years of oppression,
    My back, so wide, bears decorations of past, present, and future violent aggression.

    Mentally, I push to overcome the stereotypes and the lack of being white.
    I look in the mirror and the beautiful color reflected leaves me pondering how could such beauty in another human hatred ignite?
    Yet, inspire a desire to be all the same, and leading one to imitate the ability of the one thing they supposedly hate.
    So how can you state it’s your mission to this God made beauty eradicate?

    Are we so different other than the color of our skin?
    Don’t we all die if the next breath of air we can’t take in?
    We are all made equal and from the dust God, we created.
    On the same planet we live, but the only kindness you show me is your hatred.

    In the beginning God created man and it was good.
    So when was this separation established to define one race as bad and the other as good?
    The perpetuation of the mental conditioning has bled into our souls.
    It turns young and old against others and even our own.

    Can’t you see that we cannot continue to live like this.
    This hatred from our hearts every race must dismiss.
    We are heading for self destruction of a God given plan.
    The plan to live in harmony every man, child and woman.

    What will it take for us to see that we must let the hatred go?
    The extinction of any one race would certainly deal a detrimental blow.
    No one race is better than the other.
    Stop trying to prove this through hatred which causes the destruction of child, father and mother.

    I long for the day to be greeted by all races in brotherly and sisterly love.
    I long for the day to see the sign of hope and change just as Noah did when God sent him the dove.
    I long for the day when love reigns in our hearts, minds, and souls.
    I long for the day when we live life in love and no longer let hatred live to be ripe and old.

    Will this ever be a reality or will I continue to dream like Martin Luther King did when he wrote his speech.
    I look at my daughter and for her a better day I want us to reach.
    A new generation is arising and the fortress of hate with their love they intend to breech.
    A change is coming like Sam Cooke song has bellowed through the years and this change with open heart and arms I will gladly greet.

    Written: By Carey Green ®™©

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  15. Hello Jesse,

    I can tell I made a good investment in your future when I gave you a graduation gift of cash money. You might not remember me, I dated your older brother a while back. I recently received an email about the Jasper dragging, and saw a pic of you in it. Your brother emailed me about you blog about two weeks ago also. I'm just very pleased to see you doing such wonderful things with your life, you have truly become a "Strong Black Man" to be recognized. Stay strong my brother.

    Blessings, Shenna

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  16. I made Gary Young recuse himself.
    From: derek fagan-mchenry [mailto:faganmchenry@yahoo.com]
    Sent: Monday, October 27, 2008 9:28 AM
    To: gyoung@co.lamar.tx.us; bharris@co.lamar.tx.us
    Cc: pedc@paristexas.com; rabshire@dallasnews.com; Fatimah Ali; Edgar Linzy;
    Judge_Superville@co.lamar.tx.us; lmalone@co.lamar.tx.us;
    llayton@co.lamar.tx.us; rpollard@co.lamar.tx.us; jwheeler@co.lamar.tx.us
    Subject: Brandon McClelland

    Young, did you not defend Findley in his manslaughter case? Why did you not
    tell that to the Dallas Morning News or the Chicago Tribune?

    Let me explain something to you. This IS a hate crime, and it will be
    prosecuted as such. If you don't, the U.S. Attorney will. In the mean time
    there is going to be an Assistant U.S. Attorney stuck so far up your ass you
    will burping Batson v Kentucky.

    You obviously are a racist little bastard yourself. Cotton sent to TYC and
    the white girl given probation for burning a fucking house down? Are you
    fucking insane.

    There will be no pleading to a lesser included offense. Forget about the
    world looking at you and Lamar Cunty/County. I am watching you. I am the
    wind. I be damn if I am going to see you single digit, low frequency,
    miscreant, white trash vermin fuck over another black family. If you want a
    piece of me, come get it. As you make your calls, I'll be listening.

    Colonel D.X. Fagan-McHenry
    USMC

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  17. id like to say to the family of this young man i am truly truly sorry its not right and they will not get away with what they did.

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  18. From Newsweek

    That context framed the response to McClelland's case. Many African-Americans immediately called the incident a hate crime, comparing it to the dragging death of James Byrd in Jasper, Texas, a decade ago. Some townspeople argue that troopers conducted the initial investigation carelessly because of McClelland's race. "The attitude is, 'It's some black kid. Oh, well, no big deal'," says Sharon Reynerson, an attorney with Lone Star Legal Aid who has been following the case closely
    That context framed the response to McClelland's case. Many African-Americans immediately called the incident a hate crime, comparing it to the dragging death of James Byrd in Jasper, Texas, a decade ago. Some townspeople argue that troopers conducted the initial investigation carelessly because of McClelland's race. "The attitude is, 'It's some black kid. Oh, well, no big deal'," says Sharon Reynerson, an attorney with Lone Star Legal Aid who has been following the case closely.

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  19. beautiful pictures brotha all praise is due to Allah for the talent and skill he has given you may Allah continue to bless you in your work peace god


    rodolfo malik muhammad

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  20. http://theparisnews.com/story.lasso?ewcd=d53ed7ee0321574a

    Investigation takes a new turn

    By Bill Hankins
    The Paris News
    Published May 1, 2009

    Investigation into the death of Brandon McClelland this week took a dramatic turn with a deposition taken from a gravel hauler who said the truck he was driving may have hit something on the road the night McClelland’s body was discovered.

    The truck driver was on Farm Road 2648 shortly before McClelland’s body was found by passers-by shortly after 4 a.m. on Sept. 16, 2008.

    Two other men, Shannon Finley and Ryan Crostley, have been charged with murder in McClelland’s death.

    Finley’s trial is scheduled to begin Monday, July 20, in Sulphur Springs on a change of venue.

    Crostley’s trial is scheduled to begin Monday, Sept. 21, also in Sulphur Springs.

    Defense attorney Ben Massar said the driver of the truck told investigators he thought he had hit something, looked back and saw nothing, stopped at one point to inspect his truck then went on.

    The two witnesses who found McClelland’s body told authorities they passed a gravel truck going the opposite direction shortly before finding the body.

    Finley and Crostley were charged with McClelland’s death in part because of acquaintances who told police the two men talked about his death and were the last people to be with McClelland on the night he died.

    Since McClelland’s death, theories have swirled about how he died, who struck him and whether it was a hate crime or not.

    The New Black Panthers came to Paris pushing for convictions of Finley and Crostley and demanding the crime be categorized as a hate crime. When McClelland’s body was found, first responders first believed it was a hit-run death, but investigators soon developed a different theory when they learned McClelland had been seen with Finley and Crostley in the evening before the body was discovered. U.S. Marshals, Texas Rangers and Texas Department of Public Safety troopers handled the investigation and determined McClelland’s death was “likely intentional.” Investigators seized Finley’s truck and put it through a series of tests. “I truly believe in this case,” Massar said Thursday. “If it goes through to trial, I believe Finley will be fund not guilty. The burden of proof will be on the prosecution, but there is a significant amount of information indicating the two defendants are not guilty in McClelland’s death.” Massar said: “Speaking with the gravel truck driver, I believe it was an accident, and I don’t think it was his intent to injure or kill anybody.” Special prosecutor Toby Shook of Dallas said: “We are trying to follow up with the new information on the gravel truck driver. Testing on the truck is beginning today (Thursday), and I don’t know when the results will be in. I know he has given a deposition and in it said he though he hit something, but I have not had a chance to speak with him as yet.” Massar said his team of investigators have determined the road where McClelland’s body was found is a common route for gravel trucks, and McClelland’s partially dismembered body was consistent with having been struck by a gravel truck. Early in the investigation, Finley’s truck was tested and came up negative for DNA evidence. It was later retested with the same results. “I don’t know what they will find on the gravel truck,” Massar said. “It has rained several times since McClelland’s death seven months ago, and the truck has had maintenance done on it.” “Obviously, at this point we are getting close to finding all the particulars about this case,” he said. After McClelland’s body was found, Finley fled to Wichita, Kan., where he was arrested. Both Finley and Crostley have denied they had anything to do with McClelland’s death, but said the three had been out drinking on the night of the death and an argument ensued over who was sober enough to drive. At that point, the defendants said McClelland got out of the truck and began walking along the farm road.

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  21. Why would it take 7 months for this truck driver to say he hit something on the road? If Brandon was on a "beer" run with Finley and Crostley, beer stores close around mindnight. The gravel truck didn't hit the bump until 4am. Sounds to me like Brandon was already dead when the truck driver came through. It also sounds to me like the Paris News and some in Paris are trying to free Finley and Crostley.

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  22. http://www.theparisnews.com/story.lasso?ewcd=d1a2ebd07331ff6f

    Breaking news: Murder charges dismissed

    Staff Report

    Published June 4, 2009

    Murder charges against Shannon Finley and Ryan Crostley in the death of Brandon McClelland were dismissed this afternoon by the Lamar County District Clerk’s office at the request of special prosecutor Toby Shook of Dallas.

    Shortly thereafter, the two men were released from Lamar County Jail, according to Lamar County Sheriff B.J. McCoy.

    “The families are sorry for the tragic death of Brandon,” Finley defense attorney Ben Massar said shortly after receiving word charges against his client had been dismissed.

    “It is a shame there was a rush to judgment in this case but we are just glad the prosecutor looked at the evidence. His job was to see that justice is served and he did just that in this case.”

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  23. The fight goes on.

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  24. May God bless the families of the these victims I pray for comfort and healing for the families. I also pray for people that have done/do these inhumane things that they repent for their sins and may God bind satan from them and let justice be done!

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  25. I feel really bad for the family they need to do the same to the two white boys and thats what they are white boys i came from a little town in pa there was only white and which i am white but my man is black and they dont look any diffent to him nor treat him any different Tx is like that i have lived there for 17 yrs and out in Rosenberg and out futher in the country they got the kk one time me and a coworker was going home from work and the police stop me and sk what we were doing out there that late it was 1030 pm we were just getting off work texas is full of white people that do not like blacks we all bleed the same now i live in GA the bible state yea rite pastors and all preach the world of GOD for the money and thats all they do.Pastor ask my son what he was doing in his church my son is white and his wife is black and he was a black pastor my son said workshiping GOD. My heart goes out to the family and i will pray for them, GOD BLESS YOU AND YOUR FAMILY

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