12.14.2010

Blacks doubt death in small Southern town is a suicide--they want answers now


(Blogger's Note: This is my latest cover story for The Final Call Newspaper related to the recent suspicious hanging death of a Black man in Mississippi. These photos are real and this story is on-going. God-willing, we will be on the grounds there soon.)

Blacks doubt death in small Southern town is a suicide--they want answers now

Family, political leaders, activists want further investigation into hanging death of young man

by Jesse Muhammad, Staff Writer

(FinalCall.com) - The idea of a so-called post-racial America was widely discussed, debated and even seen as an achievement by some with Barack Obama's inauguration as president of the United States.

For Blacks in Greenwood, Mississippi, the notion that America has gotten beyond race isn't popular today. Many are angry over the recent mysterious hanging death of Frederick Jermaine Carter.

“This is 2010 and we still have Black people hanging from trees? They're saying he hung himself but I have doubt in my mind that he actually did that. That wasn't his character. This wasn't a suicide, this was a homicide,” said Sunflower, Miss., Mayor Michael Pembleton, Jr. to The Final Call.

The body of Mr. Carter, 26, was found Dec. 3 hanging from an oak tree in the predominately White North Greenwood area of Leflore County. The young man lived in neighboring Sunflower County, located several miles away.

Mr. Carter's stepfather told law enforcement that he was working in the area with his stepson when Mr. Carter wandered off.

County Sheriff Ricky Banks reportedly told the media the young man had a “mental condition and a history of wandering off.” He also publicly stated that he saw no signs at the scene pointing towards it being a crime or murder.

Mr. Banks said evidence shows Mr. Carter dragged an old frame of a nearby table, leaned it against the trunk of the tree and commenced to tying himself to the tree limb.

“The frame probably broke, possibly because Carter kicked it out from under himself,” Mr. Banks told reporters.
The preliminary autopsy results by the Leflore County Coroner's Office declared it a suicide.

The deceased man's family and community leaders don't accept the official explanations and are calling for further investigation.

“Because there has been no investigation on the part of the local officials into this as a crime, we're calling on the federal government to conduct an independent investigation. We want the U.S. Justice department to look into this,” attorney Valerie Hicks Powe told The Final Call in a phone interview on Dec. 13.

Ms. Powe, who is based in Birmingham, Ala., is the spokesperson for the victim's family. “A crime scene was never established. They never roped the scene off and this has not been treated as a crime. There is no reason to believe that he would commit suicide. We appreciate attention being brought to this because we need an outcry from the people,” she said.

Funeral services for Mr. Carter were scheduled for Dec. 18 at Ark of The Covenant Church in Moorhead, Miss.

One of the most gruesome lynchings in U.S history took place in Money, Miss., which approximately 10 miles north of Greenwood. In August 1955, 14-year-old Emmett Till was beaten, shot in the head, his eyes gouged out, and thrown into theTallahatchie Riverwith acotton ginfan tied around his neck with barbed wire after accusations of whistling a White woman. Two White males were acquitted in the case while the boy's mother held an open casket funeral that made national headlines. It was also a watershed moment for the civil rights movement as the horror the Southern violence and brutality was put before the world.

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