JASPER-Jasper Police Chief Robert MacDonald is making it clear that he does not like “Outsiders” coming to his town and does not apologize for the fact that they are not welcome.
In a correspondence to Texas Activist and filmmaker Ricky Jason, MacDonald bears his soul on the issue while chastising Jason for his film telling the story about the Life and Death of James Byrd Jr.
“Our community is working together to be united against racism,”MacDonald wrote to Jason. “My biggest complaint is the people from outside Jasper that come into our community to stir up the hatred and bigotry.”
Jason and other freedom fighters contacted were offended by what they consider to be racist innuendo.
“Outsiders not welcome in America,” Jason said. “Is Jasper, Texas part of the United States and are we not citizens in a free country. Last I checked, Jasper is not Moscow or the Ukraine and how dare you disrespect and insult Black people like that by making those kinds of racial comments.”
“Outsiders” is a White Code word used by Whites in the South during the Civil Rights Movement and identified Black freedom fighter groups. Today MacDonald and others like him characterize Jason, Taharka and other freedom fighters in the same manner.
Some of those groups targeted include the New Black Panther Party for Self Defense, the National Black United Front, The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, The Nation of Islam and members of the true Black Press Newspapers because of their willingness to go outside the boundaries of their communities and answer the call of others in distress. These groups constantly fight on the front lines shedding light on racism, injustice and telling the truth about the brutality and attacks going on against Black people at the hands of people who don’t like “Outsiders”.
MacDonald went on to attack freedom fighters efforts to fight for justice with negative comments about “Outsiders”: “You will notice that the locals do not attend these protests because they know the farce that they are.”
That fact is simply not true according to Kofi Taharka, National Chairman of the Black United Front.
Taharka said MacDonald’s words are offensive, typical and demonstrates his true mindset.
“Each time I’ve been to Jasper, Texas regarding James Byrd Jr. or Alfred Wright, the Black people and some Whites have welcomed us with open arms,” Taharka said. “In Both cases, Byrd and Wright, hundreds of local people have come to rallies and protests. It is good to him (MacDonald) when White folk are in charge.”
MacDonald contended the film misrepresented the town and citizens of Jasper and denied allegations that racism was prevalent in his city.
Jason also offered an even stronger and measured response to McDonald for attacking his character and the motives for his film.
“History speaks to the horrors of racism and how Black have been treated for years in Texas and the South,” Jason said. “James Byrd Jr. was one of those times. From Slavery to freedom, from segregation and Jim Crow Laws to President Barack Obama, it is alive and there is no denying it. Racism is real.”
Jason, who made a documentary of the life of James Byrd Jr hoped that his documentary would bring some healing to a fractured community and usher in a new era of cooperations, peace, harmony and forgiveness among people, but that is yet to occur.
Jason said the documentary, called the “Life and Death of James Byrd Jr.” is available for the world to see on YOUTUBE free of charge.
MacDonald also called Jason out stating:“Ricky Jason, You can be part of the solution instead of making false allegations and be one of those “outsiders” who are perpetuating the problem.”
Jason’s response to the disrespect and sarcasm about the film and attacks to him as a freedom fighter was swift and pointed.
“It is insulting and disrespectful of Jasper Police Chief Robert MacDonald to approach me speaking so cynical and ignorant about a clearly serious topic,” Jason said. “First let me say respectfully Sir: You are not Black and can never ever speak to the struggles of my ancestors and you are totally not qualified to speak for any Black person living in Jasper, Texas or on the face of planet Earth. So, I offer this candid but true rebuttal to a gentleman whose views about Black people are as limited and ignorant.”
MacDonald believes that there is no racism in Jasper only because “Blacks and Whites work together, congregate together, the students in the school get along with no interracial violence.”
“Does that mean racism is dead,” Jason said. “No it does not. There are still those in Jasper, Texas and the South who have continued to push, promote and teach the kind of intimidation and racism to their offspring. It extends racism to just below the surface and transfers it to the next generation.”
Chief Robert MacDonald Doesn’t Understand that You Can’t Change Historical Facts.
James Byrd Jr.’s Murder is Tragic Truth racism exists and was a defining “Hate Crime” Heard Round the World.
It was June 7, 1998, that James Byrd Jr., 49, saw the sunrise for the final time before his life was cut short at the hands of three White men. His brutal killing served as a painful reminder that racism is very much alive in America and that the potential for terror and the specter of harassment still haunts in small towns across the South.
That fateful day, Byrd found himself on a road near the town of Jasper at night, when a trio of men, Shawn Berry, Lawrence Brewer, and John King, offered him a ride.
According to reports, Byrd and Berry knew each other. However, the friendly gesture eventually turned deadly. Byrd got in the bed of their pick-up truck, but the men did not take him home. Instead, they drove him to a desolate, wooded road east of town.
More specific reports indicate that the men savagely beat Byrd and chained his ankles to the back of the pickup truck Berry was driving, dragging him three miles over asphalt and road and causing severe injuries. Reports go on to say Byrd was said to be conscious during most of the harrowing ordeal, finally dying by way of a decapitation after his body hit a culvert in the road. Berry, Brewer and King drove on for another mile before dumping his torso and the mutilated remains of the body in front of an African-American church and cemetery in Jasper off Huff Creek Road.
The killers were brought to justice with two receiving the death penalty and one life in prison.
Brewer, one of the killers, was executed on September 22, 2011 by lethal injection for his role in Byrd’s killing.
Byrd’s tragic death inspired very necessary hate crimes legislation, which was originally enacted in the Texas courts in 2001. His death laid open the vicious horror and after effects of hate and revealed that it was not just a problem isolated to Texas, but is an issue nationwide.
In 2009, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act was signed into law by President Barack Obama and expanded on the 1969 federal hate crime law to include acts motivated by racial, sexual, gender, religious, and ethnic bias.
However, that legislation and conviction has in no way curbed racism or the racist’s appetite to promote hate and intimidate “Outsiders” as they are referred to.
For the 2012 time frame, law enforcement agencies reported 5,796 hate crime incidents involving 6,718 offenses, down from 2011 figures of 6,222 incidents involving 7,254 offenses. Of those, 48.3 percent of the 5,790 single-bias incidents were racially motivated, while 19.6 percent resulted from sexual orientation bias and 19 percent from religious bias.
Jason made it clear the neither he nor any other Black person could take responsibility for 400 years of brutal slavery, 149 years of racism, Jim Crow laws, segregation, countless lynchings and the injustices in Jasper, Texas or other places in the country.
“This is history and James Byrd Jr. happened on Jasper’s watch,” he said. “You will never overcome racism as long as you deny it or fail to admit or face it with truth, honesty and hold yourselves accountable for it. To Chief McDonald, your spoken words are very stupid, ignorant and offensive, but I do forgive you.”