Racial tensions are increasing during the aftermath of the mysterious death of a Black man in Texas.
The case involves the death of Alfred Wright, with law enforcement ruling his death as a drug overdose. However, Wright’s eyes, tongue, left ear and several teeth were reportedly missing when his body was found, leading his family to believe foul play was involved.
A recent rally led by the New Black Panther Party last week resulted in a clash with white supremacist residents in Hemphill, Texas. Dozens of people, including members of the National Black United Front, gathered in front of the Sabine County Courthouse for the rally. The incident required local law enforcement to get involved.
Demonstrations have occurred in an effort to keep Wright’s situation from fading away. Many people believe that his death was a hate crime. After a 19-day search, Wright’s family found his body 25 yards from the liquor store where he was last seen.
“They say they found three drugs in Alfred Wright’s body,” leader Quanell X said at the rally. “Why don’t you come out and tell everybody what we already know, Sheriff [Tom] Maddox—that your son is the biggest meth dealer in Sabine County? Why haven’t you prosecuted your own son, Sheriff Maddox?”
A video taken documenting the New Black Panther rally shows Quanell X getting into a confrontation with white resident Nathan Ener. The organization says it wants answers from the Sabine County sheriff on what really happened to Wright.
Wright’s family has since started the Alfred Wright Education and Justice Foundation. The organization will educate and advocate for people who experience injustice within the justice system and provide scholarships to individuals who are graduating students who are pursuing a career in physical therapy.
“As of this day, no one from law enforcement has ever come and asked us any questions about the day we found Alfred’s body,” said Douglas Wright, Alfred Wright’s father, at a recent church service. “Sheriff Tom Maddox and his friends don’t have a care in the world about getting down to the bottom of what happened to our son.”
As far as the New Black Panther Party rally goes, the Wright family said in statement that they do not promote violence and they are not affiliated with any organization.
Many white residents have reportedly said that the presence of the New Black Panther Party in town is unnecessary. Several New Black Panther Party members came to the rally heavily armed; many images of Black men wearing masks and holding guns have plastered the local media.
On Facebook, Ener said that a “peaceful” rally will take place with several white supremacist groups—including the Ku Klux Klan, Redneck Mafia and Sacred Bones Society—who will demand the same treatment and rights the New Black Panther Party had.
“We will all have weapons also. There won’t be any foul language used, [and] there won’t be any threats to anyone,” he said. “We are not going to stoop down to the level of those Panthers.”