Dr. Jahi Issa
Yes, I admit plagiarizing my headline from the movie, “The great Debaters,” starring Denzel Washington and Forest Whitaker, and I also admit, we are far from Marshall Texas and 1935, or so I and many others had thought.
This story starts in Dover Delaware on October 17, 2010. A young African American Man, a Wesley College student and star athlete from Edison New Jersey was found hanging from a tree in an alley off of the 200 block of North Governors Ave in Dover. Charles Conley was found hanging from two belts linked together, according to his mother. Conley was a well liked intelligent young man, with apparently no reason to commit suicide. Although Conley’s friends, family and neighbors lend little credibility to the Dover Police’s ruling of suicide in Conley’s untimely and violent death, the case was never further investigated.
The official police report reads:
On Sunday 10/17/10 at approximately 0730 the Dover Police Department responded to a report from a motorist driving in the alleyway, east of N. Governors Ave, that a subject was hanging from a tree. Detectives identified the victim as a 19 year-old Wesley College student from New Jersey. There is no foul play involved and detectives found information from the victim detailing his intent to harm himself. Crime/Nature: Suicide.
On December 2011, violent racial leaflets were distributed in Dover Delaware depicting a drawing of a lynching with a swastika, that contained a racial epithet quoting, “Cleaning up the streets, one ‘nigger’ at a time.”
On May 12, John Clark, an African American male and local barber was found hanging from his own belt in Silver Lake park. There was no police press release or media coverage on his death. The two men were found hanging less than a quarter of a mile apart in or near Silver Lake Park had only one thing in common, they were African American. All of the friends and family questioned by local Activists, strongly repudiated the Dover City Police’s finding of suicide for Mr. Clark’s death and were in fear of speaking to the police, fearing for their lives and family’s safety.
On September 21, 2012 another African American male was aggressively assaulted at Silver Lake Park near the same location as John Clark’s lynching. Henry Fordham, a local man residing in the same neighborhood as Clark, was violently assaulted with a knife by two young white assailants attempting to cut his ear and penis off, according to Fordham. Fordham also stated that his attackers bragged and confessed to the lynching of Johnny Clark from a tree by his own belt in Silver Lake Park and said the same was happening to him. Fordham had sustained cuts in the area of his ear and penis as well as ligature marks on his neck from an attempting lynching. These types of injuries have been consistent with many lynchings that have taken place in the past 100 years.
Johnny Clark’s brother reported, the last people, he saw his brother with while he was alive, were the same two white males that Fordham named as his attackers. The police claim that Fordham is well known to the Dover City Police Department as a person involved with illegal narcotics. Police also have stated that they “shot holes” in the details of his story of the abduction and assault. After speaking with anonymous sources, Mr. Fordham admitted, the details of his abduction could have been a cause for violation of his probation and fudged on the details. Many of the people and sources in the neighborhood were intensely fearful of speaking of the details they knew unless they were assured of complete anonymity.
Mr. Fordham escaped his attackers and ran into a neighbor’s back yard yelling and screaming for them to please call the police. When police came, Fordham identified his attackers, their addresses and vehicle, along with their first names. Nobody has yet been arrested for his assault.
Officially, the Dover City Police Department maintains there is no probable cause to investigate an assault on Fordham, since they were able to “poke holes” in his story and he is known to them. Word has it on the street that the Dover City Police Department is squelching any investigations of the two lynchings and the assault and attempted lynching of Mr. Fordham because one of the assailants is reputed to be the son of a Police Sgt.
Since this is a blog, I am allowed to speculate a bit and use common sense. With the three attacks I have described, there is a “modus operandi” that is very similar, as well as a complete lack of action on the part of the Dover City Police Department. Even if Mr. Fordham is known for illegal narcotics activity, is it now legal for him to become a target for the worst racial hate crime imaginable, a public lynching? When I spoke to people in Fordham’s neighborhood, I had to be introduced by Dr. Jahi Issa, an African American former History professor at DSU and a political and civil rights activist. Even then there was hesitation and fear, in their eyes, because I am a white man. I would like to add that I was treated very respectfully by everyone in the neighborhood that I was introduced to.
These are some of the most heinous hate crimes committed since the civil rights movement in the 1960’s and 1970’s and I ask that the FBI step in and investigate the Dover City Police Department for this blatant cover-up and bring the perpetrator of these crimes to justice. If we allow these kinds of crimes to go unpunished, it will escalate. People have a constitutional right to live in peace, without the fear of racial reprisals.
St. Augustine said: “An unjust law is no law at all.”