October 5-11, 2011
October 5 - 11, 2011
10 NO. 4
contents WARD SCHAEFER
6 Investigation Hinds County Supervisor Robert Graham is under scrutiny for his JPD days. COURTESY ANDERSON FAMILY
Cover photo by Aaron Phillips
A defensive Brandon copes with the implications of an alleged hate crime in Jackson. H.C. PORTER
andrea jones they were different learners. Adapting to learning styles is the biggest key to teaching children.” Jones started Toot, Teach and Roll in March to cater to all learning styles such as musical, kinetic, interpersonal and logistic to better teach not only children, but to help teachers, parents and communities learn as well. The Toot, Teach and Roll bus is filled with tables bolted to the floors in place of seats, which are covered in craft and activity materials designed to ensure that students of any learning style can be given activities that best suit their own style. The bus also plays host to birthday parties and fitness programs. Jones’ decision to find innovative ways to teach is partly inspired by a quote from philosopher John Dewey: “If we teach today as we taught yesterday we rob our children of tomorrow.” She believes a hands-on approach is essential to teaching. “We used to just sit and lecture, but lecturing won’t do it anymore,” she said. Jones’ mobile learning lab style can reach anyone—child, parent, or teacher—who needs it. “Our target market is anyone who wants to learn.” For information on Toot, Teach and Roll, contact the office at 769-257-0944 or visit the website at tootandroll.com. - Dustin Cardon
24 River Life Composer Eve Beglarian visits Jackson to discuss kayaking on the Mississippi River.
41 Down There The pros and cons, and wheres, of birth-control options.
Andrea Jones has always enjoyed teaching. “I’ve always been some type of educator. I like to gain knowledge then share it,” she said. Jones is the founder of Toot, Teach and Roll, an innovative mobile-learning lab inside a bright blue modified school bus. It’s a setup that allows Jones and her staff to bring a hands-on learning environment they created wherever it is needed. Toot, Teach and Roll integrates arts and crafts with laptops and SmartBoards in communities all over Jackson and the surrounding area. Jones, 37, has lived in Jackson for 33 years after moving from Grenada at age 4. She attended Murrah High School and later graduated from Jackson State University with a degree in marketing. She then attended Mississippi College, where she got a master’s in secondary education. She graduates from Mississippi College in December as a specialist in education leadership. A single mom, Jones has two children: a 19-year-old son, Andre, who is a bio-medical engineering major at Mississippi State, and a 12-year-old daughter, Coralyn, who is a 7th grader at Chastain Middle School. “They are part of the reason behind the bus,” Jones said. “I learned early on
4 ............. Editor’s Note 4 ................... Slowpoke 6 .......................... Talks 12 ................... Editorial 12 .................... Stiggers 13 .................. Opinion 14 ............. Cover Story 24 ............... Diversions 26 ....................... Books 28 ..................... 8 Days 29 .............. JFP Events 31 ........................ Music 32 .......... Music Listing 36 ................. Astrology 37 ........................ Food 41 ............... Body/Soul 42 .... Girl About Town
Aftermath of Death
Lacey McLaughlin News editor Lacey McLaughlin is a Florida native who enjoys riding her bike around Jackson. She is always on the hunt for news tips. Email Lacey@jacksonfreepress.com or call 601.362.6121 x. 22. She wrote the cover story.
Aaron Phillips Originally from Texas, Aaron Phillips has lived in Mississippi for more than a decade. He works for a local graphic-design firm and is a freelance photographer.
Megan Stewart Megan Stewart, the JFP’s web developer, works best by being unpredictable and catching everyone off guard. She graduated from Ole Miss with a bachelor’s degree in computer science last fall and lives in Jackson.
Crawford Grabowski A veteran public-school teacher who recently earned her master’s, Crawford Grabowski lives with her husband, Jim, daughter, Daise, and too many damn cats. She wrote a food feature.
Briana Robinson Deputy editor Briana Robinson is a 2010 graduate of St. Andrew’s Episcopal School. Her hobbies include photography, ballet and ballroom dancing. She is a sophomore at Millsaps College. She wrote the Body/Soul story.
Tom Allin Former editorial intern Tom Allin is native Jacksonian with a Tar Heel streak in him. He teaches in Clarksdale through Teach for America. He reviewed a book for this issue.
Dustin Cardon New copy editor Dustin Cardon is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi from Brandon. An English major, he enjoys reading fantasy novels and wants to write them himself one day.
October 5 - 11, 2011
Design intern Erica Sutton is a senior graphic-design major at Mississippi College. She enjoys design as well as photography. She worked on design in this issue.
by Donna Ladd, Editor-in-Chief
Hate Is As Hate Does
o when is the Southern Poverty Law Center going to file a lawsuit against the man who killed Mr. Patel?” This was only one of many comments I’ve seen since James Anderson died under the wheels of a big truck. I want to say, “When we find out that his murderer was looking to kill an Indian or was shouting ‘white power!’ when he committed the tragic murder.” Some folks are very upset over, and confused by, the notion that some violent crimes are “hate crimes” and, thus, require an extra level of attention than other kinds of crimes. This confusion is remarkable in the state of Mississippi—one that still suffers every day in myriad ways from our violent race past. It has caused continuing racial distrust and made the world stereotype us. It has kept us on the bottom of most indicators and contributes to our poverty, and our poor self-image. Words matter. Let’s consider the meaning of “hate.” In “hate crimes,” it has a specific meaning, as SPLC Research Director Heidi Beirich explains to Lacey McLaughlin in this week’s cover story. It is a distinctive kind of crime, an attack on someone based on believing they are a member of a specific group that the perpetrator “hates.” When you attack that person, you are attacking every member of that group. It could have been any of them. And you are attacking the entire community. I think of my hometown of Philadelphia, Miss., a town that was broken for so long due not only to the murders of Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner, but the fact that so few people in the town cared enough to do anything about it (until the multiracial Philadelphia Coalition formed a few years back and helped get Edgar Ray Killen tried and convicted). Hate crimes are devastating to communities. They are a form of domestic terrorism, usually meant to send a larger message of violent supremacy. The attacker flexes his muscle and targets a member of a despised group because he can. He needs to prove something. This is no way to run a society; that is why hate crimes should be treated with an extra level of legal response and community outrage. That does not mean that a different heinous crime, such as that committed against Mr. Patel or anyone else, should be treated in a lesser fashion than the law already allows. It shows a complete misunderstanding of hate crimes to argue that it means such a thing. Society must send an additional message that our society does not tolerate group terrorism. Ironically, many people who want us to hunt down global terrorists don’t believe the same scrutiny should be applied when victims are African Americans, homosexuals or other targeted groups right on our own soil. It is even more absurd to argue that every crime is motivated by “hate.” Even if you don’t understand the meaning of the word as applied to hate crimes, this is a patently false argument. Many domestic murders and other kinds are motivated by passion or even drug or
alcohol abuse. Many crimes are motivated by greed or the need to knock off a competitor. Many things, other than hate of some group, motivate violent crimes. So why the resistance to treating hate crimes like hate crimes and speaking out on behalf of communities that don’t want to go through what so many towns in our state went through in the past? What could possibly be wrong with using the criminal-justice system to try to prevent hate crimes? This is especially true for young people coming out of households and schools where some family and friends think that, somehow, it is cool to be racist or homophobic. If the family and peers of a teenager aren’t going to teach those lessons, society has to step in and send the message that such rhetoric and violence are unacceptable. Of course, people who make the argument against hate-crime legislation are usually presenting a false dilemma: They make it sound like we must trade off prosecuting hate crimes with prosecuting other kinds of violent crimes. Ironically, it is often law-and-orderlock-em-up types who say that; somehow this kind of crime seems to deserve less scrutiny, to their thinking, because other kinds of crimes (such as those committed by black people, let’s just be honest) aren’t prosecuted enough. In so doing, they are making it a race issue when it doesn’t have to be. The truth is that many people of all races right here in Jackson and Rankin County do not want to see hate crimes destroy our community. If evidence surfaces that the man accused of killing Mr. Patel did it because he is Indian, then it should be treated as a hate crime. And considering that the SPLC has also targeted black nationalist groups as hate groups, in addition to groups like the Sons of Confederate Veterans,
the Council of Conservative Citizens and the American Family Association (due to its vicious anti-gay stances), it could bring a lawsuit against people targeting Indian people. Good. But whether it would or not, the issue here is how each of us respond to a hate crime individually and collectively. What kind of city and state do we wish to live in? I remember growing up in Neshoba County and constantly hearing racist or hateful rhetoric, sometimes uttered by people I knew. In fact, of late it’s remarkable how much I hear against our African American president, usually hidden inside urban myths being spread by anonymous bloggers and emailers, spreading (false) rumors that he attended Muslim prayers or stopped the National Day of Prayer (please run such rumors through snopes.com. It was not easy then, and it is not easy now, to tell people you care about that this kind of rhetoric is offensive (yes, to white people, too) and unacceptable in a civilized society. But free speech flows both ways, and we must talk back. I’ve talked back and walked out of many hate-filled rooms over the years, and I can sleep at night as a result. I urge each of you to speak up each and every time you hear hate and to not believe the liars who try to convince you that prosecuting hate crimes is somehow excusing other kinds. Nothing could be more stupid. Don’t forget: Troubled people, regardless of age, need to feel superior to something. They take this kind of rhetoric and use it to justify their actions. They did it back in Neshoba County in 1964, and they do it across the U.S. today. Don’t let another James Anderson or James Byrd or Matthew Shepard die before you find the courage to call such rhetoric and violence exactly what it is. Hate.
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news, culture & irreverence
Thursday, Sept. 29 China launches an unmanned spacecraft in the first step toward constructing a space station. “America the Beautiful” played during the live gala broadcast of the launch on Chinese TV, but officials did not say why. … A study predicts that the number of Mississippi jobs in environmentally friendly sectors, such as recycling and renewable energy, will grow in the coming years. Friday, Sept. 30 Economists from the Economic Cycle Research Institute say the U.S. is heading toward a another recession. … Deryl Dedmon pleads not guilty to the capital murder of James Craig Anderson. Saturday, Oct. 1 Police in New York arrest about 500 protesters for shutting off a lane of traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge for several hours. … Airplanes show off acrobatics at an air show at Hawkins Field. Sunday, Oct. 2 Syrian dissidents officially form a national council to overthrow President Bashar Assad. … Former Vice President Dick Cheney says the CIA’s drone strike against al-Qaeda operative Anwar Awlaki validates the Bush administration’s terrorist-fighting strategy.
October 5 - 11, 2011
Monday, Oct. 3 Glenn Beck’s TV station launches a children’s program called “Liberty Treehouse” to appeal to children ages 8 to 14. The first program included segments on straw polls and debates. … JATRAN cuts routes and reduces the number of buses on the streets in an effort to save money.
Tuesday, Oct. 4 Apple unveils the iPhone 4S, disappointing some fans who had expected the company to release an iPhone 5 with more changes. … Phyliss Anderson becomes the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians’ first female chief. Get daily breaking news at jfpdaily.com.
More to Graham Investigation?
by Lacey McLaughlin
harles Carter, president of the National Emergency Communications Institute, says that there is more to state Auditor Stacey Pickering’s investigation of Hinds County Supervisor Robert Graham than the state has presented. Pickering served a demand on Graham in May for $45,736 for wages Graham and other city employees received from the city of Jackson between 2003 and 2006 while he was conducting dispatcher certification classes. Graham taught the courses, Pickering alleged, during regular work hours when Graham—then a city employee—indicated on his time sheet that he had been on the job as a spokesman for the Jackson Police Department. Lisa Shoemaker, spokeswoman for the auditor’s office, said that Graham did not pay the demand within 30 days of its issuance and the state attorney general’s office is now taking over the investigation. Carter instigated the investigation when he sent an October 2007 complaint to Pickering’s office, but Carter’s letter focused on Graham’s alleged unauthorized use of the company’s copyrighted manuals for training classes. Graham worked for NECI as a contract instructor. Emergency-response agencies such as fire departments and American Response Ambulance service paid Graham $495 each for their employees to take his course. The
Wednesday, Sept. 28 The Obama Administration asks the Supreme Court to hear its appeal of a ruling against the minimum insurance coverage provision in the 2010 Affordable Care Act. … Mississippi and 25 other states ask the Supreme Court to rule on the health care law, saying the court should strike down the entire law, not just the individual requirement.
Reporting under the federal hate crime act is voluntary, and more than one-third of police jurisdictions do not report hate crimes to the Federal Bureau of Investigations.
Supt. Tom Burnham says Mississippi schools will need $300 million more in 2013. P 11
An investigation of Hinds County Supervisor Robert Graham, a former police officer, for teaching dispatcher classes during his city work hours is headed to the attorney general.
course included a $95 emergency response manual and, upon completion, a NECI certificate. Students could then submit their certificate to the state’s Board of Emergency Telecommunications Standards and Training for approval, and the board reimburses all agencies for the cost of the class. “The state office would look at class rosters turned in by Graham, and if they saw that there was a certificate from NECI, then the
state would reimburse the agency $495 plus the student’s salary while they were at their training and travel expenses, Carter said.” In 2006, Carter received a phone call from a member of the state’s Board of Emergency Telecommunications Standards and Training asking if he had changed the design of his company’s certificates. He had not. GRAHAM, see page 7
Show Some Initiative
Bet you haven’t heard about these lesser-known ballot initiatives that failed in Mississippi over the years: w
fight “We don’t need to get into a mud fight,” Attorney General Jim Hood said during a debate in Jackson Monday against his opponent Steve Simpson. “People don’t want to see their attorney general and top law enforcement officer in that kind of discussion.”
1/ Build a border fence around the city of Jackson. 2/ Put pants on the Pink Pony. 3/ All politicians must supply documentation of facts with any public statement. 4/ Manhood Initiative: Blustering male politicians must go on and lay their business on the table early in the legislative session. 5/ Any new state government building must look like a brick bank. 6/ Mississippians can have free air to breathe or free Internet access, but they may not have both. 7/ The capital shall move to Hattiesburg to reflect the importance of south Mississippi. 8/ Registered voters will not be allowed to vote unless they drive themselves to the precinct in a Ford vehicle. 9/ The state shall require DNA testing of all residents and make the results public record. Instead of “resident,” Mississippi shall informally refer to its denizens as “cousins.” 10/ The state shall cede any property in its possession that was ancestral land back to the Choctaws.
news, culture & irreverence
GRAHAM, from page 6
Then when students began calling asking for additional copies of their certificates, NECI had no records that the students had been enrolled in Graham’s course. Carter determined that Graham was copying manuals and printing his own certificates instead of paying for them. Carter reported his findings to the attorney general’s office Aug. 8, 2006. A year later he took the complaint the state auditor’s office. NECI revoked Graham’s certification as an emergency-response trainer after Carter issued the 2007 letter to the state auditor. The city of Jackson gave Graham $2,500 to buy manuals that he never purchased, Carter claimed. “We never complained that he was double dipping,” Carter said. “We complained that he was using our training materials without our knowledge. And making copies without our knowledge rather than purchasing our materials.” Carter estimates that his company lost from $20,000 to $25,000 from Graham not paying for materials. He said that he held off on filing a civil suit against Graham because he did not want to interfere with the state’s impending investigation. Shoemaker said the state auditor’s office looked into all of Carter’s claims but could
only serve a demand for Graham’s time-clock infractions. “Back when we first started looking into this (the Board of Emergency Telecommunications Standards and Training) determined that they were going to honor all of the certifications that were issued by Graham to those people even though they didn’t have valid certificates,” Shoemaker said. “We don’t have any issues with seeking recovery because the people did not suffer any losses as a result of taking those courses.” Carter said he alerted all emergency response agencies to let them know that some of their employees may not be certified under state law to respond to emergency calls. He said he is disappointed the state board agreed to accept the certificates even though they weren’t valid. “I sent a letter to all 9-1-1 directors, chiefs and sheriffs in the state letting them know that a lot of people that they thought were certified were in violation of state law,” Carter said. Carter said he has no plans to file a civil suit because of the time and expense it would involve. Graham did not return calls for this story. His attorney, Lisa Ross, said nothing has changed since May, and that her client disagrees with the auditor’s demand. Comment at www.jfp.ms.
Public schools do more than educate children. They measure a city’s pride. They reflect community. They predict the social and economic well-being of a city’s future. For 20 years, Parents for Public Schools of Jackson has worked to keep our public schools strong, to empower parents as leaders for positive change, and to engage community support of our public schools.
Join us. For our city. For our children. For our future.
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Revote for Hinds Race by Lacey McLaughlin FILE PHOTO
Hinds County election dispute, ruled in favor of Polk. Anyone who voted in the Aug. 2 Democratic primary can cast their vote again Oct. 18. Polk needs approximately 112 votes to be named the democratic challenger against RepubVoters in Terry’s Dry Grove precinct will have the chance to cast their voters again for the Democratic candidates in lican incumbent Jim the House of Represenatives race for district 73. Ellington in the Nov. 8 general election. Polk said she has conoters in Terry’s Dry Grove precinct tinued to campaign and inform voters will have the chance to cast their about her platform despite unknowns of ballots again for the Democratic the election. candidates in the Mississippi House of “I have worked diligently everyday Representative’s District 73 race. since the election for this to be corrected Gay Polk ran for the seat, but official so I have not been in limbo,” she said. “I totals show that she lost to Brad Ober- have talked to voters in all precincts not housen by 90 votes. The Hinds County only in the dry grove precinct.” Democratic Executive Committee certiOberhousen said he is disappointed fied the final results showing Oberhou- about the ruling but will continue to sen received 2,103 votes, or 51.09 per- gather support from voters. cent, to Polk’s 2,013, or 48.91 percent. “The judge did what we thought Polk filed a formal election chal- was fair, and we have got to move forlenge in August after reports surfaced ward with campaigning to get this peothat she had been left off the ballot at ple out to revote on Oct. 18,” he said. the Wynndale and Dry Grove precincts. I believe it is going to be difficult to get Yesterday, Leake Circuit Court Judge people out for this race since there is a Vernon Cotton, whom the Mississippi general election on Nov. 8.” Supreme Court appointed to oversee the Comment at www.jfp.ms.
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high number of job openings in “green jobs” such as renewable energy and recycling means many opportunities for employment exist in green industries, according to a recent study. Although the number of jobs in environmentally friendly industries is rising in Mississippi, employers may be having trouble finding workers with the skills they need. The Mississippi Department of Employment Security released findings from a survey on “greening Mississippi’s economy” at a conference Sept. 29. The survey looked in part at the number of workers who spend more than half their time working in categories such as renewable energy, pollution reduction, recycling and conservation. Dek Terrell, director of Louisiana State University’s Division of Economic Development, worked on the study. “One of the things that you see is a gradual greening of the economy, both in Mississippi and the U.S. as a whole,” Terrell said. “... When I look out over a period of 30 to 40 years, the idea of ‘green’ is not a fad.” The number of “green jobs” in Mississippi will grow by 18.5 percent over the next 10 years and add 9,000 new jobs to the state, if the study is correct. Mississippi’s overall employment is expected to grow 12 percent during that time. Officials from Mississippi and Louisiana partnered to survey businesses about green jobs last year as part of a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. About 20 other agencies conducted similar surveys. Terrell said the survey should provide a baseline for understanding how much the green economy impacts employment, as well as studying the potential for job growth and what skills employers need in new hires. Government policy alone does not make the green economy grow, Terrell said. As people in a society overall get wealthier, they typically devote a greater percentage of the economy to improving the environment and their quality of life. New technology and innovations also reduce the cost of “going green.” Terrell said that the percentage of Missis-
Growing Green Jobs
KiOR, a biofuels company that expects to open a plant in Mississippi next year, will become part of the state’s growing “green economy.”
sippi jobs in renewable energy was significantly higher than in Louisiana. Mississippi also has a leg up on the biofuels industry because of its natural resources, Terrell said, making the state competitive in the renewable energy market. “One of the great pieces of news for Mississippi from this is that Mississippi is not running 50th in (renewable energy),” he said. Sumesh Arora, director of Strategic Biomass Solutions, attended the conference and said the study is helpful in showing how strong the green jobs sector is in Mississippi. “It may not be large percentage-wise, but it’s comparable to other states,” he said. “Mississippi really is leading the charge when it comes to attracting new renewable energy companies.” Strategic Biomass Solutions is a program of the Mississippi Technology Alliance, a nonprofit organization. The program provides resources and training for entrepreneurs, new renewable energy companies, economic developers and investors. Arora said he is looking forward to analyzing the data from the study to use in some of the program’s reports. At the time of the survey, the vacancy rate for green jobs was 6.9 percent, with more than 1,000 job openings—much higher than the typical rate, which is about 2 percent. Ter-
rell said the highest job vacancy rate ever observed in a state as a whole was 6.5 percent in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina. Mary Allen, work force coordinator for the Central Mississippi Planning and Development District, which includes Hinds County, said workers in the area need more training and education to fill prospective employers’ needs. Allen said work-force development and economic development must work hand-in-hand. “Once we have identified those occupations and industries that we need to focus on ... we can bring the community college system into play and work together to provide the training that we need,” she said. Allen’s agency offers programs to fund on-the-job training and community college classes, among others, through the WIN job centers. MDES has also released a website with more detailed findings from the study about the green jobs market in Mississippi, as well as how much the study predicts various green industries and jobs will grow over the next 10 years. The website also has listings of green jobs and resources for finding training for the green jobs sector. Visit the Mississippi Green Jobs website at greenjobs.mdes.ms.gov. Comment at www.jfp.ms.
by Elizabeth Waibel
Questions Dog Convention Hotel Deal ‘The horse is out of the barn and … we don’t have any answers.’ – Margaret Barrett-Simon
Ward 7 Councilwoman Margaret Barrett-Simon said she needs more details about the city’s deal with developers to build a convention center hotel.
Council members saw a map from TCI of the property downtown that the city will buy, but some council members said the printing quality made it difficult to read. Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. said he could not determine how many acres are in the parcel the city will buy, but he thought it would be nine to 10 acres, most of which is currently vacant. “The public doesn’t know how many acres we’re acquiring,” Ward 1 Councilman Quentin Whitwell said. “Help me help you. I can’t argue something back to the public if I don’t know. It can’t be that complicated.” Whitwell also questioned how much TCI had initially paid for the land in 2007 and how much of the $14 million the city will pay for the land would go to the purchase price and how much to costs associated costs. City financial consultant Bob Swerdling of Swerdling and Associates told the council members that they will get more details shortly. In 2007, TCI got a $7 million loan from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to finance part of the property
purchase. The JFP reported in August that Brookins said TCI was behind on its HUD loan payments. Brookins could not comment this morning on whether the company is still behind on its payments, but said Jeff Wagner, the lawyer who is overseeing TCI’s compliance on the HUD loan, will present more details to the council at a later date. Brookins told the Jackson Free Press that the hotel’s future revenue would pay off the loans TCI currently has on the land. “If we float a bond to purchase the land and develop the hotel, then hopefully the hotel will pay off the debt,” he said. Also in August, JRA hired a financial consulting firm to conduct a feasibility study for the convention center hotel. JRA board members received a draft of the study last Wednesday, and the Jackson Free Press requested a copy of the study. At the time the Jackson Free Press made its request, JRA said it was not able to release the study to the public, but said it will comply with open-records laws when it receives the study. See www.jfp.ms/hotel for history.
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espite approving a financing agreement to build a convention center hotel downtown, Jackson City Council members want more details about paying $14 million for the land purchase. The city will purchase land from TCI, the company that will develop the hotel, but at a work session earlier this week, council members were frustrated by the lack of information about the land purchase. Currently, TCI owns the land, purchased in a deal brokered by former Mayor Frank Melton with friends from Texas who started TCI. The land, across from the convention center, has stood undeveloped since the last administration with the company’s finances and ability to complete the proposed development in limbo. Ward 7 Councilwoman Margaret Barrett-Simon said she cannot explain the deal to people when she does not have all the details herself. “It’s very difficult politically to be dealing with something like that if we are just getting details in ripples,” she said. “The horse is out of the barn and … we don’t have any answers.”
by Valerie Wells
Ramirez Missing Two Years
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775 Lake Harbour Drive #H in Ridgeland 601.856.4330 | fax: 601.856.4505
braham Jonathan Ramirez went out with friends to El Jardin, a Jackson nightclub off Gallatin Street, a couple of years ago. He was 21 then, had a new pick-up truck and wore cowboy boots. He lived in Pearl and had lived there for at least a couple of years where he worked in construction for his girlAbraham Jonathan Ramirez has been missing since Sept. 5, friend’s brother. He hadn’t 2009, his family reports. been getting along too well with her that week, so he went out with his buddies. He was surprised to run into his girlfriend, The Jackson Police Department began Mayra Ibarra, at the club that night. paperwork for the Ramirez missing-person “Why are you here?” Ramirez asked case in September 2009. JPD Det. Ella her. “Where’s our baby at?” Small took over the case about one year ago. The couple argued during the early No new information has surfaced. Small morning at the club. The last time anyone said the only real lead is Mayra Ibarra, who remembers seeing Ramirez was about 3:30 moved to south Texas with the couple’s a.m., Sept. 5, 2009. baby soon after Ramirez disappeared. “I’ve His black truck was found later, been trying to find her,” Small said. “If she’s wrecked on the side of Interstate 20, only in Mexico, there’s nothing we can do.” about a mile from the club near the State Small also said that the family Street exit. Amy Ramirez, Abraham’s step- should have filed the case in Pearl, where mother, told the Jackson Free Press in Au- the missing man lived. Townsend says that gust that police never searched his vehicle. is wrong. The missing man’s family is worried Ramirez is from Mexico. He moved to that police have not given his case much the Jackson area around 2007. Small didn’t attention because he is Hispanic. The step- know if he was a documented worker or mother of Abraham Jonathan Ramirez says the name of the construction company he when she tried to file a missing-person’s was working for. Amy Ramirez said her report in 2009, Pearl police dismissed her stepson was a documented worker. concerns. Amy Ramirez said she believes the Lt. Butch Townsend, spokesman for case hasn’t been handled properly since the Pearl Police Department, said because the beginning. Ramirez was last seen in Jackson, JPD “He’s a great kid—reserved, very polite needed to investigate his disappearance. and well-mannered,” she said. “He came “This hints strongly at foul play,” to have the American dream. He had a ton Townsend told the JFP. “And the foul play of friends.” wasn’t in Pearl.” Ramirez was wearing a black shirt Ramirez’s stepmother and father live in with brown stripes and a cross on the back St. Louis, Mo. Ibarra called about 10 a.m. of the shirt, blue jeans and white cowboy Sept. 5, 2009, to tell them their son was boots the last time people remember seemissing. They came to Jackson to look for ing him. He’s 5 foot 8, has black hair and him, file missing-person reports and ask brown eyes. He weighed about 180 pounds questions. They didn’t get too many an- then. He’d be 23 now. He didn’t have any swers. They went back and forth between tattoos then, but he did have an earring in the Jackson and Pearl police departments, his left ear. He and Ibarra’s young son was trying to get the process started but found born May 28, 2009. stumbling blocks everywhere they turned. Authorities have entered the case in “A police officer in Pearl told us: ‘He’s the National Crime Information Center Hispanic. We have problems with Hispan- database. Several missing person websites ics. He’ll turn up.’ It’s like he said he didn’t have posted the sketchy details of his disapmatter,” Amy Ramirez said. pearance. Mississippi Missing and UnidenTownsend said he needed to hear the tified Persons is one organization that conpolice officer’s side, but that the sentiment tinues to reach out to the public, remindwas “definitely wrong.” He also said Pearl ing people that this young father is missing police had an arrest warrant on file for an with no explanations. Abraham Ramirez dated June 2009. The If you have any information, you can warrant was for failure to appear in court call Det. Small with the Jackson Police Deregarding having an open container and an partment at 601-960-1318. expired license. Comment at www.jfp.ms.
by Elizabeth Waibel
Scrapping for Funds
“For the last several years, K-12 (education) has taken a larger cut percentage-wise than the state budget in general,” Loome said. If legislators recognize how much education funding has been cut, maybe they will make funding it more of a priority, she added. “K-12 has done far more than its share of belt tightening,” she said. Each year, the state budget should, by law, allocate $20 million for a school building fund and about $18 million from sales taxes for teachers to buy classroom supplies. Loome said that since before the current recession hit, the Legislature has transferred that money to help fund MAEP. The Board of Education has asked the Legislature to restore that money for 2013 instead of using it to fund MAEP. The board is also asking for $3 million to train staff to implement the Common Core State Standards. The Common Core State Standards Initiative is an effort of government leaders and educators from different states to develop common expectations in English language arts and math curricula. The standards should help put Mississippi’s education on par with the rest of the country. Schools are already starting to
phase in the standards, which should be in place in all grades by the 2014-2015 school year. Mississippi also needs a “superintendents academy,” the board says, to provide training for aspiring superintendents. The budget request includes $2.5 million to start one. The board is asking the Legislature to make early childhood education a priority, citing concerns that the state does not have a comprehensive effort to develop and implement a program. The budget request says that about one-third of students begin kindergarten without the necessary skills. Some research has shown that pre-kindergarten education is especially helpful for low-income children, who are more likely to come to school with smaller vocabularies than their peers. Although some entities and schools have pre-kindergarten programs, the board says Mississippi needs a statewide approach. Another of the board’s priorities for the next legislative session is moving from elected superintendents to appointed ones. Mississippi is one of only three states that allow school districts to elect superintendents, according to the board’s budget request. Comment at www.jfp.ms.
PA I D A DV E RT I S E M E N T
heckers & Rally’s restaurants were founded on the idea that a bland and flavorless burger was downright bad and that Americans everywhere deserved something bigger, better, and juicier—one that was unexpectedly bold, made-to-order, and priced at a value that was hard to beat. Founded by experienced foodies with a renegade spirit, both the Checkers & Rally’s unique double drivethru concept, with its over-the-top checkerboard squares, chrome styling, red neon signs, and of course the food, was an instant hit. These two new burger experiences were hot, fresh, and served with a smile. People were hooked, and the world of cookie-cutter corporate burger establishments was about to change. Checkers Drive-In Restaurants, Inc. burst onto the burger scene with their over-the-top flavors in 1986 in Mobile, Alabama. Rally’s Drive-In Restaurants, Inc. first fired up the grill and started cooking in 1985 in Louisville, Kentucky. After successfully opening and maintaining 200+ restaurant chain businesses in several Midwestern and Southeastern states, in 1999 Checkers & Rally’s brought their passion for big flavor together. This successful merger made Checkers & Rally’s the largest double drive-thru restaurant chain in the country. Which, in turn, only helped bolster both the Checkers & Rally’s brands on all fronts. Today, Checkers & Rally’s have more than 800 restaurants open in the United States. From seared and seasoned burgers to wings and seasoned fries, your food is always served fresh and piping hot. What makes Rally’s burgers so great? Every burger is made to order with a perfect blend of spices sprinkled on each and every burger and then grilled to perfection. On the run or on the go, Rally’s new Chicken Bites and Chicken Bites Box with Fries come at a great low price. Portable so you can take ’em with you. Poppable so you can toss them back. No matter the craving, you’ll steer your mouth to juicy, irresistible flavor. From chicken to fish, burgers to fries, hotdogs to wings, Rally’s has you covered with full flavor and freshness at every turn. Don’t forget to leave room for dessert, the hand-spun milkshake or fresh, hot apple pie is a great way to finish your meal. So the next time you have a craving for hot and fresh, make your way to Rally’s.
cal year 2013, which begins July 1, 2012, to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee. The board is asking for a $300 million increase, but most of that—about $250 million—will go to fully funding the Mississippi Adequate Education Program. Although law requires the Legislature to fund the program, it rarely does. Many of the board’s budget requests for 2013 are similar to the ones they made this year. The 2011 budget left MAEP underfunded by $243 million. The board asked for a 12-percent funding increase for 2012, but did not get it. In The Mississippi Board of Education and Superintendent Tom Burnham say schools need 2012, the Legislature underfunded $300 million more in the 2013 budget, in part MAEP by $237 million. because they are not fully funded for 2012. Nancy Loome, executive director of The Parents’ Campaign, said fully funding MAEP is a big he Mississippi Department of Edu- hill to climb, and she does not think it is cation says it needs a 13-percent likely that the Legislature will close the gap funding increase in 2013, but most between current and full funding in the of the increase includes funding that next legislative session. She sees hopeful the department was legally entitled to in signs, however, in responses her organizaprevious years, but did not get. tion has collected from candidates who On Sept. 22, the state Board of Edu- say they will make giving schools more cation presented its budget request for fis- money a priority.
opining, grousing & pontificating
Melton’s Last Laugh
he sudden and extremely belated concern about TCI doing a conventioncenter hotel deal with the city would be amusing if it weren’t so frustrating to realize how little some people pay attention to vital city business. The JFP journalists has reported since 2006 about the various controversies surrounding the man who started it all: Gene Phillips. They range rom bribery allegations in Oklahoma that sent an insurance commissioner to prison, to the acquittal of Phillips himself less than a decade ago in after he was indicted in 2000 in a mafia scheme to bribe union officials in a proposed sale of preferred stock shares. And then there’s his involvement in the high-profile savings-and loan-scandal that tainted many officials including President Ronald Reagan. Phillips-related drama has been only an Internet and Nexis search away since Mayor Frank Melton started pushing his offspring companies to develop here in 2006. (Thankfully, they didn’t get the King Edward, as Melton wanted.) We’ve warned for years, and especially before Melton helped sell key property across from the Jackson Convention Center to TCI, that this path to a hotel development was not a good one. Of course, Melton didn’t listen. Neither did many of his supporters, many of whom have long led cheers in favor of the TCI deal as recently as this summer. This land sale to TCI left the city between a rock and a hard place. They own the land that is sitting ugly and vacant across from the shiny convention center. We desperately need a hotel there to make the convention center a success, and we need to get the land back. Somehow. Meantime, as Lacey has reported, TCI and friends have faced all sorts of financial struggles, and have just let the property sit vacant and, at times, haven’t even paid the property taxes on schedule. Any fool who has paid attention knows the difficult spot the city, and its taxpayers, are in on this one. So it’s surprising to see some council members act as if all of TCI’s history is news. More likely, some folks suddenly are trying to position the city’s deal to buy the land for $14 million politically against the mayor. This is the wrong response on this one. The mayor has made it no secret, as the JFP has reported, that he is virtually holding his nose to make a deal with TCI, and we’ve seen little that makes him grumpier than the Hobson’s choice Melton left the city saddled with. The city should be more transparent on every aspect of the deal, but we also suspect they worry that any provocation will make TCI take its title to the land and hightail it home to Texas. And then we’re left with an empty lot and no hotel. This situation has never been pretty, folks. The late Frank Melton getting the last laugh on this mess he created for us. See www.jfp.ms/hotel for links to the JFP’s TCI/Phillips coverage.
A Jobs Plan
October 5 - 11, 2011
iss Doodle Mae: “Jojo, our fearless leader, is such a shrewd business person. He keeps up with the latest business trends and provides more employment opportunities through creative innovation. For example, instead of laying off people, cutting back on services and raising prices, Jojo decided to promote senior employees and provide more part-time and full-time jobs for many of the unemployed members of the Ghetto Science Community. “Today, I’m proud to announce my new position as assistant store manager at Jojo’s Discount Dollar Store. My promotion from head cashier and part-time security guard will provide openings for two new jobs. Jojo also promoted Chief Crazy Brotha to store operations manager. Now, Jojo’s Discount Dollar Store has a job opening for a manager of the Arts and Crafts section at aisle 7 ½. It’s a new day for the Jojo’s Discount Dollar Store staff, because they have just experienced positive and creative corporate restructuring. “But wait, there’s more. Jojo needs a couple of computer-savvy people to develop and manage his ‘Online Discount Dollar Store’ business. Also, Jojo wants to hire more security personnel, especially those individuals who completed Officer ‘Beatdown’ Lipscomb’s three-week security training course. And, finally, Jojo’s Discount Dollar Store has part-time job openings for stock clerks and store custodians. “The massive hirings will not affect the prices at Jojo’s Discount Dollar Store. Jojo hopes that his positive and creative corporate restructuring will inspire hope and confidence in the spirits of today’s extremely financially challenged consumers.”
Noise from the blogs @jacksonfreepress.com
The following were the first of many comments to Donna Ladd’s Editor’s Note, “Eye of the Needle” (Sept. 21, 2011). Sadly, we don’t have even an option to vote for someone who is willing to stand up and do the right things to get us off the bottom of the National Barrel. DuPree will be a lot better than Bryant for Mississippi, but he is still a politician with political solutions instead of real, sustainable improvement. I suppose the think that if everything is going good, they will have nothing to attack each other with in the campaigns. - Bobby Kearan Bravo once again Donna, bravo! Where did you get the information about the poverty rate of blacks in Mississippi? That is truly sickening, especially in the so-called “most religious state in the Union.” - Blackwatch Anyone who actually runs a business understands the huge albatross of uncertainty that has been forced onto us by Obamacare. Oh, wait, I can get a one-time tax credit for “creating” a job? Never mind that the credit is negligible compared to the Obamacare penalty, or that there is no work for the new employee to accomplish, or that most of these new hires will be back on the streets as soon as the tax credit expires—we won’t worry about that until after the next election, just like the scores of provisions of Obamacare, which are not scheduled to be enacted until then! “Reform health care”? I am rarely speechless, but a reply to this would be an insult to reason. - notmuch
I own a small business, notmore. My company benefits from what you call “Obamacare,” as do my employees. Now, we’re able to offer our health insurance plan to those who work 30 hours, not just full-time salaried people. We will also benefit from the president’s jobs plan, both as hard-working individuals and business owners. ... My company is growing; we hire every chance we get, both to help our own company’s growth, give some relief to our hard-working employees and to do our part to grow the economy. We even spend a few extra dollars whenever we can to support local businesses and suppliers. – Donna Ladd I have to admit, I see a point on all sides, but these well to do folks want to enjoy all the perks they get being famous, yet expect to get it handed to them on a silver platter, seems like i heard someone say something to the effect on “the TALK” just a few weeks ago. – wataworld If you haven’t seen it yet, Elizabeth Warren’s discussion of how we’re all in this together—even the fabulously wealthy—is very interesting listening (as is her alternative discussion of the deficit and reminder of how we go where we are economically). –Todd Stauffer Join the online conversation at www.jfp.ms.
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know murderers. Iâ€™ve eaten dinner with them. Iâ€™ve watched them giggle while they shoot hoops in the backyard and bicker over shoes in the living room. Iâ€™ve debated music with them and laughed at their jokes. Before the act of â€œmurdering,â€? they act like any other child. They complain about going to school. They want to watch DVDs and go bowling on the weekends. Surprisingly, there is no stamp on their forehead that says, â€œThis one will kill.â€? There are often other, smaller signs. They have a tendency to get angry and have difficulty managing that emotion because theyâ€™ve never learned how to appropriately express it. If I contact their family because they need something, often someone will not answer that call. I can plot their address on a map and see their neighborhood is full of crime. Iâ€™ve learned in more than a dozen years working with mentally ill and behaviorally challenging children that the same three predictors of negative outcomes are, as John Coie, professor of psychiatry at Duke University and an expert in the field of children who become violent, states: low family involvement, community violence and a history of early trauma. These kids hurt because they see hurt. They were hurt. Most people know the phrase â€œHurt people hurt people.â€? Omar stayed with me for two months. He was the only child at our facility during the 2004 Christmas holidays. We bought him presents, but that never made up for no family calling Christmas Eve. There was no place he could wake up to breakfast and a loving family. His family was scattered. An aunt was located in January 2005, and Omar was discharged. His parting words, â€œMs. Lori, if I go to that house, I will end up back on the streets,â€? would haunt me. Two months later, I woke up and turned on the news to hear Omarâ€™s prediction come true. Omar had carjacked someone. In response, JPD Officer Thomas Catchings chased Omar, who drove the stolen car in a ditch. Omar shot Catchings. Then Catchings shot Omar. That day was the end of both of their stories. Somehow, the one starting with a kid who never received enough love and attention bled onto the grown manâ€™s story and whose kids will never know more of his love and attention. And that is why we are all responsible for the â€œOmarsâ€? of the worldâ€”because their stories will never stop bleeding onto ours in the most reprehensible way if we do not help change them. I tell that story and peopleâ€™s first ques-
tion is, â€œWhat do we do?â€? But then they donâ€™t like the answers because they arenâ€™t short or simple. People want these childrenâ€™s parentsâ€”often unequipped to deal with a life where money is always short, jobs are hard to keep due to parenting obligations and few community supports existâ€”to become the parents they were never ready to be in the first place. To be honest, the â€œcommunityâ€? part is the only part in the process where the rest of us can have an effect. This means supporting these kids in their own community with programs that provide the services they and their parents require. Resiliency studies of at-risk youth concluded years ago that â€œone caring adultâ€? in a kidâ€™s life can make the difference between jails or a productive existenceâ€”one caring adult. Doesnâ€™t sound that difficult, does it? And when that childâ€™s parent is unable to be the caring adult in their lifeâ€”despite how much we may want them to beâ€”we, as a society, have an obligation to ensure someone does. We should take that obligation seriously, as it will affect our very own children and families if we donâ€™t. Iâ€™m not going to pine for Omar. I canâ€™t. There are too many other children that we can save. I can tell his story. I can hold his likeness in my head so I remember there are precious few things we do in life that make a difference except holding a childâ€™s hand. Holding a childâ€™s hand is an investment we make in our own children, in our own community, and in our own hearts. The lesson I take from Omarâ€™s story can be confusing and difficult for me. I want to be angry at what he did. I want to hate him for it. But Omar was a child I saw sleepy with that straight-out-of-bed hair asking for some juice. He was a child whom I saw laugh and cry and ask for more from us. When we didnâ€™t give it to him, he took it from someone else. After Omar, I learned that each of us deals every day with youth where we can do as Gandhi asks of us: â€œBe the change you wish to see in the world.â€? It is in that obligation that I stand firm. Iâ€™ve eaten dinner with murderers. But maybe one day, if we all wake up, I will not have to eat breakfast with them. Lori Gregory-Garrott, LMSW, is director of Hope Haven Adolescent Crisis Center operating in south Jackson for the past 16 years. If you are or know a family in crisis who needs support or help with a mentally ill teenager, contact the Hope Haven Crisis Line 601-376-0500.
Before the act of â€˜murdering,â€™ they act like any other child.
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Editor in Chief Donna Ladd Publisher Todd Stauffer
The Aftermath of a Killing
by Lacey McLaughlin
Tami Dean (left front) and Carol Hill (right) attended a vigil for James Craig Anderson on Aug. 12, 2011.
October 5 - 11, 2011
ordan Richardson was fishing at Cornerstone Lake in Brandon in 2009 when a pickup truck pulled up. Three teenagers got out of their trucks and started walking toward him, and he knew he was in trouble. Deryl Dedmon, his peer at Brandon High School, had called him names and threatened him with violence for months, and now he and two of his friends had come to pick a fight, Richardson says. “You little wuss, you won’t even defend yourself,” Dedmon said, according to Richardson’s account. Richardson had gone fishing with a friend, who was on the other side of the lake. Instead of taking his chances against the three teens, he pulled out his phone and called the police. Richardson knew Dedmon and his friends kept shotguns and deer knives in their trucks, and he didn’t know what they might do to him. Soon the police came to the scene and 14 broke up the altercation. Although Richardson
did not file any charges, he said the Brandon Police Department and school-district officials were quick to address the situation and protect him from future encounters. The next time Richardson saw Dedmon was July 6, 2011, during a Hinds County Circuit Court hearing, in which Judge Ali ShamshidDeen raised Dedmon’s bond from $50,000 to $800,000 for his alleged murder of James Craig Anderson, a black man, two weeks before in south Jackson. “I knew the hate he had in his heart for people who were not like him,” Richardson said. “Deryl bullied and terrorized me my freshman year. He would never do it by himself. ... I just felt that it could have been me in that casket instead of (James) Craig Anderson.” ‘It Could Have Been Me’ Around 5 a.m. on June 26, Dedmon, who graduated from Brandon High School in 2010, and six other teens left a party in Rankin County and headed to Jackson on Interstate 20 in two vehicles: a Ford
F-250 and a white SUV, according to court records. A witness said Dedmon claimed he was on a mission to “mess with people” and led the teens off the Ellis Avenue exit into Jackson. A witness told police that Dedmon pulled into the Wendy’s on Ellis Avenue where he saw 49year-old Anderson beating on the window of an orange Chevy Avalanche. The police report does not state if this was Anderson’s car. Anderson, a witness later claimed, was drunk and looking for his car keys when Dedmon saw him and perhaps thought Anderson was trying to steal the vehicle. Dedmon and Anderson began fighting as several teens ran back and forth to their cars. It’s unclear how much the other teens participated in the beating, but a witness claims that one of them yelled “white power” during the attack. After Anderson’s beating, 18-year-old John Aaron Rice and some of the other teens then got back into the white SUV. Dedmon, with two female passengers, followed behind his friends as he took a right on Ellis Avenue.
His green F-250 truck suddenly backed up and then lurched forward as Anderson stumbled along the curb on Ellis Avenue and disappeared under the vehicle. Dedmon then pulled into a nearby McDonald’s to meet up with the rest of the group stating he had just “ran that n*gger over,” according to court records. The district attorney said that Dedmon then laughed about what he had done. Rice’s defensive attorney, Samuel Martin, says that his client had no plans that night to attack a black man. In June at Dedmon’s bond hearing, JPD Det. Eric Smith testified that a black man had robbed Dedmon weeks before the attack and that the teen was looking for revenge. Defense attorneys say the teens came to Jackson with the intention of buying alcohol and that Rice was trying to help Anderson who was locked out of his car. They claim an altercation took between Dedmon and Anderson at that point. West Jackson resident Cassandra Welchlin and her husband, Kass Welchlin, helped organize a vigil for Anderson Aug. 12 near the Metro Inn. The mixed-race couple—he’s white, and she’s black—stood side-by-side with their 3-year-old daughter, Zia Brooke Welchlin, and wore red shirts with the slogan “Not in My City.” Cassandra, who is a member of west Jackson’s Capitol Neighborhood Association, started making shirts and organizing the vigil the week after an Aug. 8 CNN report aired, publicly revealing video of Anderson’s murder for the first time. She said the slogan caught on quickly, and other community members made their own shirts to wear. During the vigil, about 500 area residents of various ages and races marched from New Horizon Church along Ellis Avenue to the Metro Inn and laid a wreath where Anderson was killed. Community members sat in back of the truck singing gospel songs such as “This Little Light of Mine.” The vigil drew members from several metro congregations including Beth Israel synagogue and Pinelake Baptist Church in Brandon. “We are here to unify and to share openness and to teach ourselves and our children and everyone out there that there is a better
involving black teens, in similar circumstances to Dedmon’s mob, have been immediately arrested and charged in connection to the crime.” Jackson State University NAACP President Michael Teasley is a member of the coalition. During a community crime meeting on Aug. 30 at JSU, he expressed his frustration to the district attorney that no other teens had been charged in connection to the crime. “Our office never likes to rush an investigation,” Smith responded. “I understand your frustration, but it really has not been a long time. ... Given the magnitude of this case, given the number of investigators on the ground, my opinion is that it coming together very well, and you will be pleased with the results very soon.” Teasley, who is white, grew up in Rankin County and said he was racist until he moved to Selma, Ala., and attended a predominately black high school. He remembers using the nword when he was younger, but he began to change his mindset when he was exposed to a different race. He spoke to a Brandon Civitan International group on Aug. 17 about the crime, and several members asked him whether the crime was drug-related. “It’s much easier for Rankin County to blame the black man than take responsibility for this crime. Right now the problem is in their churches, homes and schools,” Teasley said. “This doesn’t have anything to do with a drug deal gone bad. They are looking for an excuse to make themselves feel better.” Teasley said he grew up with progressive-minded parents, but it was his grandparents who had trouble seeing blacks as equals.
This monument honoring Confederate soldiers in the Civil War is located in the center of Brandon’s downtown.
“They would say things like: ‘Bluebirds stay with bluebirds,’ and ‘blackbirds stay with blackbirds’ and then right after than they will say: ‘But I’m not racist, though.’” On Sept. 6, Jackson attorney Winston Thompson III of the Cochran Law Firm in Jackson along with the Southern Poverty Law Center, based in Montgomery, Ala., filed a DIVIDED, see page 16
“There are different types of people— those who are wealthy and have more stuff than others and those who don’t have that much, and sometimes they kind of clash,” Watson said. Watson said he knew of Dedmon and was shocked when he saw news reports about Anderson’s murder.
shame it happened. We have never had anything happen like this.” Dedmon should be punished, Kaminsky added, but said the death penalty is too harsh. She does not believe the crime against Anderson was racially motivated. Brandi Henson, a mixed-race senior wearing an “I’m For Phil” sticker, said her brother was friends with Dedmon. The week before the incident, Dedmon was at her house eating pizza with friends. “Deryl was always sweet to me,” she said. “I never saw any sign of racism.” A handful of teens interviewed at the game sounded on script as they offered similar theories about what happened that night. The teens seemed to agree that Dedmon violated the law, but refused to believe that he attacked Anderson because of race. The next week at McLaurin High School’s home game against Florence, students had little to say about the crime. Rice had graduated from the rural high school last year. One student agreed to speak on the record about the incident. The student ‘Aren’t What People Think’ spoke in defense of Rice and said she On Aug. 19 groups of teens and doesn’t believe he or Dedmon participarents packed the Brandon Middle pated in a hate crime. However, she apSchool stadium for the Brandon vs. proached this reporter later that night Pearl football game, one of the big- Deryl Dedmon, 19, faces capital-murder charges for allegedly with a friend and said she changed her gest events in Brandon each year. Only killing James Craig Anderson in what Hinds County District mind about being interviewed for the those who arrived hours ahead of time Attorney Robert Smith calls a hate crime. story. Later, her fiancé also demanded were able to get a view of the field. that her name not appear in this story. Last year Richardson tried out to In the aftermath of the crime, Facebe the school mascot, Bully the Bulldog, and “He didn’t seem racist to me at all,” Wat- book pages sprouted in support of Dedmon made the cut. He likes to keep his identity son said of Dedmon. “We have some people and the other teens, while other pages called quiet so that he doesn’t ruin Bully’s mystique. who don’t like other races, but it’s not a really, for the death penalty. Although the page “DerThe Rankin County School District has near- really big deal.” yl Dedmon Should Go to Prison for LIFE” ly doubled in size over the past 10 years, and After the game, the couple was going to specifically states that the page “is not meant several parents eagerly passed out stickers and Brandon High School’s “rave” with techno to spread hate,” several people called for retaliflyers in support of a $169.5 million school music and glow sticks in its auditorium. ation against the teens with comments such bond to build new three new schools and a Other students stood by the refreshment as “execute the trash” and “Why waste time? new athletics facility—that failed on Sept. 13. stand. Some had facial piercings and head- Take his a** out back and run him over.” Swarms of teenagers gathered in groups phones, and others dressed in school colors. On the other side of the argument, Lisa and stood behind the bleachers. The teens Hannah Kaminsky, a blue-eyed senior with Smith Seale Erwin defended her nephew on a proudly wore their school colors and talked braids and a red bandana wrapped around her page titled “Pray for John Aaron Rice.” among themselves—mildly paying attention head, spoke passionately about Brandon. “He is not a racist or a murderer,” she to the game below. Brandon High School’s “We are very down-to-earth people,” Ka- wrote. “If anything he is being tried by the racial mix is 26 percent black and 71 percent minsky said. “We aren’t what people think we media suffering from reverse racism. … I am white. White and black students interacted are.” Kaminsky said she knew Dedmon per- sick of the race card.” and talked at the game, while older generations sonally and believes there is more to the story Another supporter defended Rice on sat among people of their own race. White than the media have presented. She said she July 1: “JPD Sucks. If this was the other way families predominately sat on the left side, and believes Dedmon was bi-polar and that she around and a black guy ran over a white boy it black families primarily sat on the right side. had heard that Dedmon could have bought would not be a hate crime.” Before the game began, U.S. Congress- drugs from Anderson. man Gregg Harper and Lt. Gov. and guberna“They didn’t just randomly meet up. ‘Two Systems of Justice’? torial hopeful Phil Bryant worked the crowds They had gotten into a couple of quarrels (beAs the result of the crime, a group of citiamong a steady stream of supporters. During fore), and something happened that day that zens and organizations have come together and a ceremony before the game, the crowd ap- set him off,” Kaminsky theorized. “Deryl did formed “Mississippians Together,” a coalition plauded wildly as the intercom speaker intro- drugs because he was going through a rough for racial reconciliation. The groups include duced the two Republican politicians. time, and Anderson had drugs on him.” the Mississippi ACLU, NAACP, New HoriLagarrin Watson, a black 11th-grader and Authorities have not released or indicated zon Church, the Children’s Defense Fund and his girlfriend, Hannah Edwards, a white 10th- evidence of drug use or sales by Anderson. several citizens. grader, held hands as they sat on the bleachKaminsky is worried that the incident In a Sept. 12 letter to local law enforceers during the game’s first quarter. They said will perpetuate negative and untrue stereo- ment agencies, members of the Anderson they’ve gotten some negative feedback from a types about Brandon. family and the coalition wrote that they were few teachers and peers for being an interracial “It’s hard to say I was one of his friends “outraged” that no other individuals have been couple, but for the most part they haven’t had because I don’t want people to think I was just charged with the murder or as accessories to any big problems. like him,” she said about Dedmon. “We aren’t the murder. The couple insisted that Brandon is a all white. If you look at Brandon’s classes, we “There is a perception in the community good school with good teachers, but said that have colored people in our class. Brandon is that there are two systems of justice, one for sometimes students from different neighbor- one of the top places to live in the country. people of color and one for whites,” the letter hoods fight with each other. There is nothing bad about Brandon. It’s a stated. “Previous cases have shown that crimes COURTESY JPD
way to live, and love is a better way to live,” Beth Israel Rabbi Valerie Cohen said as attendees lit their candles. “We are here to get beyond hatred.” Jordan Richardson, who attended the vigil with his father, said he doesn’t defend his hometown, but he also worries that the incident will scar Brandon and propel negative stereotypes. Even good places can produce bad people, says Richardson, who is white. “There is that aspect of things that people don’t talk about, and (the alleged murder) one of those things,” Richardson said. “When asked about it, people are trying to make Brandon a good place.” Richardson and several others at the vigil shared the same sentiment: “It could have been me.” Welchlin said the fact that Dedmon appeared to randomly attack the first black person he saw means that it could have just as easily been her or someone she knew. That realization seems to be a unifying factor for many concerned residents.
DividedWe Fall from page 15
October 5 - 11, 2011
what has happened. He touted Brandon’s close-knit community and quality of living. “Sometimes it takes one little skunk to stink it up for everyone, and that’s what has happened,” Moore said. Around 10 p.m. that evening, students pulled into the parking lot of Brandon High School for the homecoming dance. Some girls wore high heels and sparkly long dresses, while others wore flip flops and less formal attire. They paused to take pictures or reapply their makeup before walking in with their dates. A parent volunteer said media was not allowed into the dance and told this reporter to immediately leave campus. Two Brandon police officers followed this reporter to the parking lot. “This is a special night for them, and they don’t need anyone coming up and asking them questions,” one of the officers said.
University of Mississippi in 1962, leading to riots and one murder, the Rankin County Press ran an article about the Council’s annual banquet in which Lt. Gov. Paul Johnson was the guest speaker. His speech, though, was restricted due to the tear gas he ingested at Ole Miss during the Meredith riots. Citizens Council Executive Secretary Robert “Tut” Patterson compared the Ole Miss showdown to Pearl Harbor. “We came through with flying colors,” Patterson told the Rankin County Press. “… The future of our state is in good hands.” But after John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, the racial rhetoric in the paper’s editorials quieted down and started advising residents to surrender to an integrated society. For many, Anderson’s murder is reminiscent of that darker time in Mississippi’s history and has raised questions about how much ‘Racist Because It’s Cool’ progress the state had made since the tumulOn Aug. 20 at McAlister’s Deli in Brantuous civil rights era. The murder coincided don—between play practice and a church with the release of the film “The Help” in late event—Richardson explained why he believes summer, based on Jackson native Kathryn his peers are offering different versions of what Stockett’s 1960s-era novel about black maids happened the night of June 26. and their relationship with white families. The “I think people’s defense of Deryl is a timing of the two events sparked conversadefense of Brandon,” he said. “There is that tions and news articles, nationally and locally, aspect of things that people don’t talk about, about how far Mississippi has really come. and this is one of those things. When asked That past includes the 1955 murder of about it, people are trying to make Brandon a Emmett Till, a 14-year-old black boy who algood place.” legedly whistled at a white women in Money, Earlier this year, CNN Money named Miss., prompting two white men to kidnap Brandon 89th of 100 best small towns to live and kill him and dump his mangled body in the country, citing high-performing schools, into the Tallahatchie River. An all-white jury low cost of living and low crime. “Residents of acquitted those men, even though they later this Jackson suburb often admitted to the murders leave their doors unlocked, in Look Magazine. for crime is rare,” the CNN It also includes the Money article stated. 1964 murders of two Rankin County is a 19-year-old black men, dry county—no bars or Charles Eddie Moore restaurants in Brandon and Henry Hezekiah serve liquor or wine, alDee in Roxie, Miss. though beer is available. Klansmen, led by James Options for churches, Ford Seale and Charles however, are plenty. If you Marcus Edwards, tied are a newcomer in BranDee and Moore to a tree, don, one of the first quesbeat them and later tied tions people will ask you them to Jeep engine parts is what church you belong and dumped them into to. If someone doesn’t go to the Ole River near Talchurch, they are likely cutlulah, La., to drown. The ting themselves off from same summer, a gang an entire social network, of Ku Klux Klansmen, Richardson said. including police officers Richardson said that Southern Poverty Law Center Founder Morris Dees (right) and Anderson family and sheriff’s deputies, outside church, teens have attorney Winston Thompson (left) announced Sept. 12 a wrongful death suit abducted and murdered few opportunities for social against all teens involved in Anderson’s death. James Chaney, Andrew interaction. And it was at a Goodman and Michael church event where DedSchwerner on Father’s mon threatened to hurt Richardson. Haunting History Day in Neshoba County because they were Dedmon was a member of Grace Brandon isn’t that much different from trying to register blacks to vote. Baptist Church and, in December 2008, many other Mississippi towns as far as racial Rankin County has had its own inciarea youth groups came together for a dis- history is concerned. Rankin County experi- dents of racial violence. In 1970, civil-rights cipleship conference. At the event, Dedmon enced a tremendous economic boost resulting activist John Perkins and three other men were called him gay and tried to get physical, in flight from Jackson after the federal govern- arrested in Brandon when they attempted to Richardson said. A friend, however, inter- ment forced an end to segregation. The Citi- get a group of Tougaloo students out of Branvened before things got violent. zens Council, a white supremacist organiza- don’s jail. Authorities had picked them up on Even though blacks and whites mingled tion, had a strong presence in the county. a reckless-driving charge in Plain, Miss., while freely at the football games, Richardson said In the months after James Meredith be- they were trying to return to Jackson from a that Brandon’s neighborhoods are largely seg- came the first black student to enroll at the boycott march. JERRICK SMITH
wrongful-death lawsuit on behalf of Anderson’s family against Deryl Dedmon, John Aaron Rice, Sarah Graves, Shelbie Richards, William Kirk Montgomery and Dylan Butler, all of whom are 18 or 19. One 17-year-old minor defendant is included as well. The lawsuit states that on June 26 the group of teens took turns beating Anderson in the parking lot of the Metro Inn hotel in Jackson and accuses all the teens of doing nothing to stop the attack, help Anderson or notify police. That same day, national and local media outlets flooded the Hinds County Court Judge Houston Patton’s chambers for Dedmon’s pretrial hearing. Officers escorted Dedmon, wearing a blue jumpsuit, into the court’s chambers. The curly locks he sported in his mugshot photos were gone, and his small frame seemed unthreatening. Upon request from the attorneys, Patton agreed to reschedule the hearing for Sept. 26. On Sept. 21, however, a grand jury indicted Dedmon on capital murder charges. On Sept. 30, during his arraignment hearing, Dedmon pleaded not guilty to the capital-murder charges in Anderson’s death. Hinds County Circuit Judge Jeff Weill then set a Jan. 9, 2012, trial date. Dedmon’s attorney, Lee Agnew, refused to speak with the media and instead presented a written statement: “Considering the very serious nature of these allegations and subsequent charges, it is not surprising that this matter has quickly gained a great deal of negative attention; however, let us not forget the fundamental principles which lies at the base of our criminal justice system: due process of law, the right to counsel; the right to a fair trial and the presumption of innocence for every person and until otherwise proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a presence of a jury of their peers.” A few hours later, the excitement in the air at Brandon Middle School’s stadium was palpable as students attended Brandon High School’s homecoming game against south Jackson’s Forest Hill High School—located less than five miles from the scene of Anderson’s murder. A group of tents, modeled after Ole Miss’s grove, were grouped together on a grassy area beside the field. A group of predominately white, well-dressed Brandon parents and students tailgated and mingled as the game took place. Parents paid extra for a spot in the VIP area, and all proceeds go to the school’s booster club. Jordan Richardson wore his mascot uniform, which consisted of a large bulldog head, paws and a tuxedo in honor of homecoming. Small children and students giggled and waved at Richardson as he reached over the bleacher fence to give high fives. When he wasn’t greeting fans, Richardson cheered on the sidelines, challenging Forest Hill’s Patrick the Patriot mascot to a dance off, or joining the school’s cheerleading squad. The game and homecoming festivities went on as normal with no mention of Dedmon or any other teen involvement in the crime. Rep. John Moore, R-Brandon, who was at the game, told the Jackson Free Press 16 that the community is “embarrassed” over
regated, and it’s common for his peers to use the n-word or make fun of homosexuals. “You will find people who are racist because it’s cool,” Richardson said. “They will claim to be racist, but they really aren’t. They will use the n-word around their white friends but then hang out with black people.” Richardson remembers the first time he met Dedmon. It was Richardson’s freshman year, and he was in the school bathroom. He turned around and saw Dedmon staring at him with a group of friends. “Watch out for that fag,” Dedmon said. Richardson doesn’t know specifically why Dedmon targeted him, but his father, Brian Richardson, suspects it was because his son was involved in the school’s theater. Richardson says that Dedmon never operated alone—he always had several other guys with him. His father said that school officials and the Brandon Police Department handled the warning signs of Dedmon’s violence the best way they could. They notified his parents and acted quickly to diffuse altercations between the two young men. Jordan Richardson said Dedmon and his friends didn’t appear to operate as an organized gang, but that they were just a group of guys who like to “drink beer and smoke dope.” He says he has heard of teens taking trips into Jackson to “mess with homeless people,” or what they call “rolling.” Brandon is a small town, Richardson said, and it’s hard to cause trouble without getting caught. But Jackson is much bigger than Brandon.
guard on duty at all times. “Many families have lived here a year,” Patel said as he walked over to the hotel’s indoor pool, pointing to several children playing nearby. “A school bus comes here every day and picks up 10 to 15 kids.” But the hotel is in a blighted area, resulting from suburban flight that followed
Zia Brooke Welchlin stood by her parents Cassandra and Kass Welchlin, who helped organize James Anderson’s vigil Aug. 12, 2011.
hotel security guards woke up Metro Inn owner Val Patel from his room at the Metro Inn. Patel, a former IBM executive with a doctorate in engineering from New York University, ran to the curb outside the hotel and found Anderson lying on the ground. About that time police and ambulance came to the scene. Patel said he turned over the surveillance video to law enforcement and CNN, but disputes rumors that he sold the video to CNN. “If there wasn’t a video, no one would have known who had run over him, and nobody would have ever known it was a racially motivated hate crime,” he told the Jackson Free Press. “I formally believe in the right cause, and there is not one penny that was involved—other than the money that has killed me from a business point of view.” Patel became visibly upset when he spoke about the media’s coverage of the crime. He maintains that the crime did not happen on his property but started in the adjacent Wendy’s parking lot. He said Dedmon hit Anderson as he was walking along Ellis Avenue. He feels that the media has unfairly characterized the Metro Inn. “The crime happened on the street. It had nothing to do with property, except we are why anyone even knows about it,” Patel said. In July, Ward 3 Councilman Kenneth Stokes publicly called for the closing of the Metro Inn, calling it a “public nuisance” citing drug use and prostitution at the hotel. Patel said the Metro Inn provides a service to low-income families who have trouble finding affordable housing in the area. The Atlanta, Ga., resident said he works seven days a week from 7 a.m. to midnight and stays at the hotel between trips back home to Atlanta. He said the hotel has a security
integration. Police regularly respond to a high volume of calls in the area. Despite the hotel’s reputation, it’s unclear why Anderson was at the hotel at 5 a.m. on June 26. Southern Poverty Law Center founder Morris Dees said the case was still under investigation and could not provide specifics. Anderson, 49, had worked at Nissan for seven years. He was gay and had a partner of 17 years, James Bradfield, and helped his partner raise the 4-year-old of whom Bradfield had legal custody. Anderson was a member of his choir at First Hyde Park Baptist Church. His partner told The New York Times that Anderson may have been at a party near the hotel the morning of his death. District Attorney Robert Smith has told media that Anderson had been robbed that night and his cell phone and wallet were taken. “If you met him, the first thing you were going to see was that grand-piano smile,” Anderson’s oldest sister Barbara Anderson Young told The New York Times Aug. 22. His family could not be reached for this story. The Times also reported that Dedmon had sent his sister a letter from his jail cell stating that he had committed himself to Jesus after the crime and blaming others for his situation. “I want you to take the Bible for real,” he wrote his sister. “I don’t want you to end up like this. I thought drinking was fun, but look where it got me. And seriously choose your friends wisely, Tiff. My so-called friends got me here.” The Anderson family has made few public appearances since the crime, and on Sept. 13 asked Smith not to seek the death penalty for Dedmon. “Those responsible for James’ death not only ended the life of a talented and wonderful
man,” Barbara Anderson Young wrote to Smith about her brother. “They also have caused our family unspeakable pain and grief. As Coretta Scott King stated in explaining her opposition to the death penalty: ‘An evil deed is not redeemed by an evil deed of retaliation. Justice is never advanced in the taking of human life.’ “Our opposition to the death penalty is deeply rooted in our religious faith, a faith that was central in James’ life as well. Our Savior Jesus Christ rejected the old way of an eye for an eye and taught us instead to turn the other cheek.” Smith said he would consider the family’s request as he proceeds with the prosecution. Hate Crime, Defined Morris Dees says he is not singling out Mississippi in his organization’s efforts to seek justice for Anderson’s death. During a Sept. 12 press conference at the Hinds County Courthouse, the founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center said his organization has filed similar lawsuits in Long Island, N.Y., and Linden, Texas. In 2008, a group of teenagers in Long Island, N.Y., beat Ecuadorian immigrant Marcelo Lucero, and one of the teens, Jeffrey Conroy, stabbed him to death. A judge sentenced Conroy to 25 years in prison for manslaughter as a hate crime, but acquitted him of the hate-crime charge for murder. In Texas, the organization helped Billy Ray Johnson, a disabled black man, receive $9 million in damages after four white men beat him in 2003. “I think in Mississippi, this isn’t something that happens every day,” Dees said. “Obviously, there is systemic racism built into this state. We want to make sure that you know we aren’t picking on Mississippi. ... But we want to make sure the whole story gets out.” In 1994 Mississippi passed its first hatecrime law. The statute says that if the prosecution can prove that the crime was committed “because of the actual or perceived race, color, ancestry, ethnicity, religion, national origin or gender of the victim,” then it can be considered a hate crime. Only one known crime, however, has been tried under Mississippi’s hate-crime statute. In 2005, Brandon resident Jonathan Jones walked into Pops Around the Corner in Jackson and told the bartender that some “n*gger” had thrown a beer bottle through his window and that he was “going to kill” the n*gger.” He then asked the bartender if he could use the phone to call his insurance company so he could replace the window. Jones, however, had already killed 18year-old Reginald Daniels after the teenager threw a rock at his car. Hinds County Judge Swan Yerger handed Jones a two-year prison sentence for killing Daniels, saying that the victim and his friends were planning to carjack Jones. Yerger charged him with manslaughter, a lesser charge than murder, and gave Jones eight years in prison with two of those years suspended. “Those three young men were looking DIVIDED, see page 19
‘The Other Cheek’ Before his arrest, Deryl Dedmon lived with his mother, stepsister and stepfather at 1011 Orchardview Cove in Brandon located off Highway 471. The one-story brick home looks identical to all the homes in the subdivision with an immaculate yard and a garage door left wide open on Sept. 7, although no one appeared to be home. His neighbors recalled seeing Dedmon ride his bike around the neighborhood as a small boy, but said the family was very private and mostly kept to themselves. Former convenience-store manager and current South Jackson Square Promenade Leasing Manager Kenneth Johnson remembered Dedmon and his friends because they used to hang out at the stores he managed at Crossgates and in downtown Brandon. Johnson is gay and said Dedmon and his friends frequently came into the store and used hateful language toward gays and blacks. He recounted an incident in which a group of Jackson State University fans were in the store getting drinks. Dedmon walked in and said, “Wow, looks like ‘n*ggers’ are taking over Brandon.” “When I heard that part, it offended me, and I said: ‘Hey guys, you have a history of doing this in Brandon and need to stop,’” Johnson recalled. “Dedmon made it well known that he didn’t like gay or black people. Throughout the whole three years I spent at the store and the on-and-off two years I knew them as customers, he talked about Obama and the Jackson City Council and the mayor in a bad way. He talked about Jackson being a predominately black city and said his parents grew up and moved away because of all these black people.” Dedmon’s crew frequented the Sonic Drive-In on Highway 80 in Brandon, where a group of white teens can be found most Friday nights smoking cigarettes and displaying their large trucks. It is so far unclear if Dedmon and the other teens intentionally went to the Metro
Inn. The motel, located directly off Interstate 20, offers weekly rates of $149 and nightly rates of $34, an affordable rate for many lowincome travelers or residents who can’t afford permanent housing. The hotel has security cameras at its front entrance and TV monitors in its back office. Early the morning of June 26, one of the AARON PHILIPS
Rankin County Sheriff Jonathan Edwards, his son Jonathan Edwards Jr. and deputies then beat the three men, leaving Perkins unconscious. They also stuck a fork, with two metal prongs bent down, through Perkins’ nose, and forced him to clean up his own blood. Twothirds of Perkins’ stomach had to be removed because of the beating. He also suffered a mild heart attack shortly after the beating. Perkins is now the internationally renowned leader of the John M. Perkins Foundation, a Christian ministry based in west Jackson. He and his wife, Vera Mae, also founded Voice of Calvary Ministries in 1962. Mississippi has also made significant progress, as evidenced by black gubernatorial candidate Johnny DuPree’s win in the Aug. 2 Democratic primary. DuPree is the first black to win the Democratic Party’s nomination. Still, Mississippi voters have elected no statewide African American official since Reconstruction.
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DividedWe Fall from page 17 the Ellis Avenue exit from Interstate 20 on her way to classes at Jackson State University. Whenever she passes by the now windbattered wreath memorial on the overgrown patch of grass in front of the Metro Inn, she thinks about Anderson’s death. The Florence resident and mother of three can’t see how the alleged murder could be an accident. Paajanen, a petite 40year-old blonde, attended a predominately black high school in Vicksburg and said she always had a strong sense of right and wrong. When she noticed that her high school boyfriend was missing the Kerry Paajanen commutes from Rankin County to Jackson stone from his class ring to attend Jackson State University. Her daughter, Paige, is a because he had use it to student at Brandon High School. strike his classmates, she broke up with him. The on whether the crime was racially motivated, it movie “Mississippi Burning,” a fictional accan lead to even more divisions in the commu- count of the 1964 Klan murders in Philadelnities, Beirich said. phia, Miss., makes her cry, and she feels more “That’s the real tragedy of hate crimes: comfortable at a largely black college campus When the victim’s class are the only ones con- than most other places. cerned about violence and the larger populaHer 15-year-old daughter Paige Ramtion doesn’t give it any credence, it’s devastat- age is a sophomore at Brandon High School. ing and divisive,” she said. “I think people in Paajanen said her daughter believes that general are very quick to diminish hate crime what Dedmon did was wrong but has a difespecially in places where there have been ra- ficult time understanding why the other teens cial tensions or other issues.” should be held accountable for the crime. Because the data on hate crimes are un- Since the crime, Paajanen said she has stressed reliable, Beirich said it is difficult to determine the importance to her daughter of standing up the ongoing racial struggles in America and for what’s right. Paajanen has also been bringthe South. ing her daughter and 5-year-old son to JSU’s Beirich added that only about 10 per- campus to expose them to different races and cent of hate crimes are tied to racist groups areas outside their community. Paajanen said such as the Ku Klux Klan. “You have a high- that in a small community like Brandon, it er number of people influenced by racist, se- can be difficult for people to speak out against mantic or anti-gay ideology but (who) aren’t something their friends were involved in. actually members of groups,” she said. “I don’t think it’s so much the white-black thing,” she said last week. “They don’t want to A Time to Change Kerry Paajanen commutes from Rankin DIVIDED, see page 21 County to Jackson five days a week and takes
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backs, 2003, $14). As national media descended on the town, the community used similar talking points defending race relations in their town. The town also tried to reconcile through symbolic acts such as wrapping yellow ribbons around trees and tearing down a fence in the community’s segregated cemetery. But, overall, Temple-Raston said that little changed in the town in the long run. “Among themselves, white Jasperites said the problem of race relations in Jasper in 2001 was mostly the minds of the black community,” she wrote. “Blacks said that whites shrugged off their concerns because they could forget race; blacks could not.” Her book ends, however, with the reflection of Jasper Sheriff Billy Rowles. Rowles recounted the story of how he saw a black mother and child in town and waved to them as a friendly gesture. But suddenly, he felt that was not enough of a kind gesture after everything the town had been through. He then approached the mother and child and sat down to chat with them. “What he realized was that just saying you aren’t racist isn’t enough, particularly if you are white,” Temple-Raston told the Jackson Free Press Sept. 30. “… You might say you are not racist, but you have to do something more overt. He was one of the few people in Jasper who couldn’t just say: ‘I am not racist. I don’t agree with Bill King. I don’t think what was done to James Byrd was right.’ That’s not enough. You have to go further.” Opponents to hate-crime legislation say hate drives all crimes and that it’s unfair to distinguish one crime from another. Still others argue that hate crimes could limit free speech. Southern Poverty Law Center Research Director Heidi Beirich said hate crimes carry more weight because of the impact they have on communities. “Hate crimes aren’t the same as other crimes,” she said. “In a hate crime, you attack somebody based on your perception that this person is a member of group. It’s not a personal attack. It’s one in which you target all Jews or blacks. … When there is a hate crime, whatever group the victim was from, every member of that group lives in fear. You make that entire community and fearful. It’s a crime that rips communities apart.” When two different racial groups disagree
for trouble,” Yerger argued at the trial. “Jones was not looking for trouble, we was on his way home.” Former Hinds County Assistant District Attorney Stanley Alexander said at the time he was dismayed by Yerger’s sentence. For this story, he said it had been so long and could not give specifics. Southern Poverty Law Center President Richard Cohen told the Jackson Free Press that hate-crime laws are meant to increase penalties for certain kinds of crimes. “Mississippi’s hate-crime law is not unusual. It’s a penalty enhancement law. It means that the penalty for the violation for the law is increased if the illegal act was committed because of the actual or perceived race, ethnicity, national origin or gender of the victim,” he said. The Federal Bureau of Investigations collects hate-crime data, but local law enforcement submit the information on a voluntary basis, and many of them do not participate in any hate-crime reporting. In 2009, the last year that the FBI published hate-crime data, only 61 counties and municipalities in the state participated. In 2009, only two hate crimes were reported for the entire state of Mississippi. “In every state in the nation including Mississippi, the data is at best impressionistic and at worse misleading,” he said. “FBI data would tell you that between 7,000 to 10,000 hate crimes are committed nationally each year. The Bureau of Justice Statistics estimated that there are actually 200,000 hate crimes committed every year.” In 1998, Jasper, Texas, became known for one of the most heinous modern-day racial crimes in the country when white supremacist gang member Lawrence Russell Brewer and two other men chained James Byrd Jr., who was black, to their truck and dragged him 10 miles down an isolated road. Police discovered Byrd’s head and limbs detached from his body along a trail of blood down the road. On Sept. 22, 2011, the state of Texas executed Brewer. John William King is on death row and a third man, Shawn Berry, received life. NPR correspondent and journalist Dina Temple-Raston explored the impact of the crime on Jasper’s community in “A Death in Texas: A Story of Race, Murder and a Small Town’s Struggle for Redemption” (Holt Paper-
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