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Lynching In Tuskegee —blog this now!!

Today on the Civil Rights Movement email list I'm on, a number of members started posting links to this story from the Montgomery Advertiser.

TUSKEGEE -- Tuskegee police still are investigating the death of 29-year-old Winston Deroyal Carter, who was found hanging from a tree on County Road 65 in Tuskegee.

Tuskegee Police Chief Lester Patrick said a passerby noticed something hanging from a tree, but needed a second look. The passerby turned his car around, discovered Carter hanging from the tree and immediately called the police at 6:15 a.m. Friday.

Carter's body was sent to the state crime lab to determine the cause of death. However, Patrick said that from information his department has gathered about the case, he is leaning toward suicide.

Funeral services will be held at 1 p.m. today at the Wall Street AME Church, with burial in the church cemetery."

I googled the vicitim's name and found that this story has not been picked up by any other news source. I went back to my emails and noticed mention of details not in the article, above. I inquired and was referred to Scott B., a former worker for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

Yesterday, on Wednesday, August 18, Scott B. was a guest on Montgomery, Alabama's WKXN call-in radio talk show, It's For Real. Scott B., who is now retired in Montgomery, Alabama with his wife Linda, was talking about some of the issues facing African Americans in Montgomery today. During the show, a caller called in from Tuskegee and said that a man was found lynched on Friday morning.

Scott B. called the Tuskegee Police who replied that there hasn't been any lynching in Tuskegee. He called the Montgomery Advertiser, which could not provide any information about the situation. Scott B. decided to go to Tuskegee himself and talked to people in the local community. As the short article mentions, Carter's body was found at 6:15 a.m. last Friday, August 13. Before the police arrived on the scene, the news got out to the community and a substantial crowd gathered and saw Carter's body, still hanging from the tree. Observers noticed that Carter's shoelaces had been tied together and used to hold his pants up instead of his belt, which was used to hang him from the tree. Community members also saw that there was no available surface for Carter to step off of in order to hang himself. Rather, he would have had to have climbed up the tree with no laces in his shoes and straddle the branch, in order to attach himself to it by his belt, and then lower himself down with his own arms from that position. As a method of suicide this seems highly improbable if not physically impossible.

Scott B. called the Montgomery Advertiser again to relate what he'd learned and ask if they could provide any further information. Today, six days after Winston Deroyal Carter's body was found, the Montgomery Advertiser printed the story I quoted above. Mr. Carter was buried today, making further examination of his body unlikely and the word from Police Chief Patrick is that he is "leaning towards suicide."

Scott B. said to me, "The Civil War is not over. The South had not changed." He also explained that there is not the same basis there once was in the African American community to meet a situation like this.

If this story does not get national attention quickly, there is no chance for justice. We cannot allow this. Blog this. Email this. Write letters. Don't let this story disappear.

{ 4 comments… add one }

  • RA August 19, 2004, 10:52 pm

    Reading this, I realize suddenly the ways that hate crimes, like lynching, function like terrorism. I thought “What if this fellow was murdered by only one other person, and it’s not a lynching?” And then I realized, “Making this look like a lynching is a way to scare African Americans in this community into silence, and to scare away allies.” Like acts of terror, hate crimes function to frighten innocent bystanders into inaction. You could compare this murder to the deaths from anthrax in 2001. They should be getting comparable news coverage and reaction.

  • Kathy Fetterman August 31, 2004, 10:06 am

    My name is Kathy Fetterman and I live in Northern Virginia. Winston Carter, “DeRoyal” as we lovingly called him, was my nephew – more like my little brother since he was raised by my parents (his paternal grandparents). I have major concerns about the nature of DeRoyal’s death. People want to say he committed suicide, but I have trouble believing that. The officers in Tuskegee are so quick to rule it a suicide because it’s easy. They never allowed us, his family, to see the crime scene pictures as they promised and these pictures were taken with a digital camera supposedly. I don’t know how thoroughly they investigated the crime scene or anything. There are so many unanswered questions. I just don’t believe my nephew would have done that to himself.

    A lot of other deaths have been covered right away – why has it taken so long for this to make the news, especially when there were so many people at the scene? I don’t understand that either.

  • Doll January 27, 2005, 3:13 pm

    Ben,

    Thanks for commenting about the story linked from the Rooted in Tuskegee blog. I’ve posted the link to HungryBlues at Afrigeneas Discussion Forum. There are others that are interested in the story and will continue to follow developments as they unfold.

    Best regards,

    Doll Harris-Hargrove

  • b.J. January 28, 2008, 1:30 am

    in case no one has noticed, there’s all sorts of murders going on it central alabama. i lived in tallassee for most of my life, and on march 08th, 2007, there was a murder at around 6, 7 p.m. did it get coverage from any news source? no. it happened in the upper projects. it wasn’t even mentioned in the small local newspaper. it’s a shame..

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