Is mainstream media a part of the cover-up of the Alfred Wright lynching case? Despite all that has been revealed about this horrible case—and revealed by the people themselves no less—it has been next to impossible to find a mainstream media article other than a sound initial investigative piece done by CNN that spells out what is known to have happened to this point in its development!
The last people’s mobilization is an awful case in point.
On April 7, the New Black Panther Party organized its second rally demanding justice for this well-liked young man, who was found on Nov. 25, 2013, with his eyes gouged out, his throat cut, an ear cut off, his teeth knocked out and with a shiny dime placed next to the body after disappearing suddenly on Nov. 7, 2013.
In story after story from mainstream media outlets, almost none of them say how Wright was found as just described. They acknowledge the local autopsy, which called the death a drug overdose. Some have stealthily acknowledged that the family had to get their own autopsy done, but they will not say what it revealed, that the mutilation, the gouged out eyes, the cut throat—and not to mention blunt force trauma to the head and upper body—are indications of a homicide!
The rally was to dramatize the role of a lead Texas Ranger Danny Young in the cover-up of the case. The Black Panther Party was joined by the National Black United Front, the Nation of Islam, the Texas Abolitionist Society, Jay Morrison of Young Minds Can, members of Wright’s father’s church in nearby Jasper, Texas, and Wright’s parents and friends.
The party, which led a caravan of supporters from Houston listening to “The Ballot or the Bullet” by Malcolm X 50 years ago, was originally going to do an armed demonstration like the first one they did in Hemphill, Texas, where Wright was found, to send a message to all sides that African-Americans were not going to sit back on a lynching, that they were going to do whatever was necessary to protect themselves. To keep that from being made the issue, the party instead organized a more conventional mobilization. The participants gathered and rallied peacefully outside of the Rangers’ headquarters in Jasper. Each speaker simply laid out the purpose of their solidarity and participation and brought out some key aspect of the killing and the cover-up. The annexed footage shows the family’s spokesperson, Morrison, in a very C.T. Vivian kind of way, appealing to the conscious and “common sense” of the phalanx of Rangers arrayed to “protect” the headquarters. Just as interestingly, this same footage does not come from any of these media outlets. It comes instead from Yatori Kupenda, a former law enforcement professional who helped organize the people’s search team for the Rev. Douglas Wright, Alfred’s father, after the Rangers ended their four-day search. Kupenda actually found the body in the area where the Rangers and local law enforcement said they already searched. They then had to stand guard over Alfred Wright’s body overnight until some credible authority figure could take proper responsibility. None of that was properly treated by the stories that followed.
All of that happened! None of that was properly treated by the press.
The rally was disciplined and peaceful.
At the rally’s end, to heighten the drama and sense of urgency on the issue, Krystal Muhammad, the national chairperson for the New Black Panther Party and principal organizer of the demonstration, sought to bring the key players, including Alfred Wright’s mother, Rosalind, into the building to formalize their demands to have Young address them. They were denied entry by the phalanx of Rangers who then began pushing the organizers away from the door! In their backward obsession with securing the property, the Rangers even knocked an 84-year woman down to the ground!
Embarrassed by the senselessness of that and confronted with a more angry crowd, the Rangers retreated and locked the building down. They would re-emerge on the outside! Two mainstream media outlets were there, cameras rolling, and got all of that footage. Yet none of the stories ran how all of that went down.
By the way, CNN was nowhere to be found after having done a meaningful investigation when the story broke.
Gloria Rubac of the Texas Death Penalty Abolitionist Movement, a Texas organizing legend in her own right, made these telling observations.
“The only people who were physical were the DPS [Department of Public Safety] cops who pushed and shoved and aggressively knocked down 84-year elder Jean Dember. In their attempt to cover up the hate crime committed against Alfred Wright, the DPS troopers acted like storm troopers,” she finished emphatically.
In such a racially charged case, it should be noted that Rubac is white and Dember is Black. Rubac was also one of many who tried to move in to protect Dember once that happened.
Baba Zayid Muhammad, the Black Panther Party’s East Coast-based national minister of culture, summed up this ongoing story this way: “The Justice Department should move in aggressively like they did in the James Byrd case, in response to Khalid Abdul Muhammad moving the troops in on the [Ku Klux] Klan, I must add, and not just take over the case for ‘possible civil rights violations,’ which actually puts very strict legal limits on what they can do. They should also bring in that arm of the Justice Department that addresses official corruption. That will give them the framework to not just solve Alfred’s lynching, but to address the corruption—which may involve drug trafficking on top of underground racist terror—of that entrenched racist network that criminally covered up the crime.”
The Black press should appreciate other dimensions of the story.
Although Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee did request Justice Department intervention, the department itself has been pathetically quiet in response to this ordeal. They are currently “monitoring” the case.
If this were an al-Queda terror case, would this same critical instrumentality of power and justice be so quiet and careful?
The history of lynching absolutely has to factor into one’s appreciation of the human dimensions and horror of this story!
Muhammad asserted that Young had been a character to witness for Shawn Berry, one of the convicted lynchers of Byrd.
The key responses to what was happening by Douglas Wright were informed by his own memory of how his father, the Rev. Clovis V. Wright, had to endure his church being burned by the Klan in Philadelphia, Miss., in Freedom Summer 1964 in the aftermath of the Klan slaying of civil rights workers Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Chaney. Lynching and Klan terror are not historical abstractions for Douglas Wright; they are something he witnessed and survived in his lifetime before his son was taken from him.
Then finally there are other historical and cultural factors that should be appreciated. When Amadou Diallo was savagely slaughtered in a hail of 42 gunshots for having his keys in his hands in 1999, his parents told the incredible story of how when Diallo was born, his grandfather predicted that this grandson would somehow bring together “our people on both sides of the big sea,” referring to the Atlantic Ocean. The grandfather was correct, but he could not foresee that it would be the ugly racist slaughter of his grandson that would be the catalyst for that happening.
In this case, we not only have a young Black man who was married to a white woman—the first possible motive for this brutality—but we also have his parents, who pastor in Jasper, the scene of the recent lynching of Byrd, and who have an activist presence in their own right, especially on the education front, advocating for Black youth, parents and educators, which Rosalind Wright detailed to the public and to the press after the rally.
Then Rosalind Wright told a chilling story of Alfred Wright’s own premonition—as did Alfred Wright’s sister later. She said that just several days before his disappearance, Alfred Wright told them lightheartedly, “Ma, when the Lord takes me, it’s going to be a big deal.” Like Diallo’s grandfather a few years ago, Alfred Wright was also near prophetically correct. He had no way of knowing that his death would become one of the ugliest hate crimes of our historical moment.
The Black Panther Party and the family have forged a coalition of Black families who have been victimized by “extrajudicial violence,” referring to racist hate crime violence, police brutality and “stand your ground” violence. The coalition includes the families of lynching victim Emmet Till, as well as those of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis. They are already contemplating a major action on Aug. 28 in Washington, D.C., to mark the anniversary of Till’s vicious but galvanizing lynching of 1955 when he was only 14.