February 28, 2022

Person of interest in Clifton Walker murder dies 58 years later

Catherine Walker Jones and Shirley Walker Wright hold a picture of their father, Clifton Walker, and stand on Poor House Road, where he was killed. Photo by Ben GreenbergCatherine Walker Jones and Shirley Walker Wright hold a picture of their father, Clifton Walker, and stand on Poor House Road, where he was killed. Photo by Ben Greenberg

58 years ago today, on February 28, 1964, a white mob ambushed and murdered Clifton Earl Walker, Sr. on Poor House Road, outside Woodville, Miss.

The murder is thought to be the first organized shooting of an African American by members of the then newly formed Mississippi White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Walker was 37 years old. He and his wife, Ruby Phipps Walker, had five children: Rubystein, Catherine, Shirley, Clifton Jr. and Brenda. The Justice Department re-opened the case in 2009 and closed the case again in October of 2013, though the FBI left many leads unexplored.

In 2016, I published information about two living persons of interest who could be suspects in the murder or have close knowledge of it. According to public records, one of the two men, a white co-worker of Walker’s at the International Paper Plant in Natchez, died last month, on January 31, at 82, in Hattiesburg, Miss. The other man is still living at 88 years old in eastern Louisiana, according to public records. Both men escaped punishment for their alleged participation in the attempted murder of another Black man, named Richard Joe Butler, near Natchez, Miss., 6 weeks after Walker was murdered. Neither of the two men was interviewed by the FBI before the Justice Department closed the case in 2013.

Born in 1927 in Woodville, Miss., Clifton Walker was the last of nine children. Despite being the youngest, his siblings respected him. When he saw them arguing with their wives, he would pull his brothers on the side and tell them you don’t talk to your wife that way,” Catherine once told me. He was such a gentleman.” His family called him Man,” and the nickname stuck.

One Sunday in 1943, walking home from Sunday school, he met Ruby C. Phipps. Two years later, they married, and the young couple made a beautiful set,” she later wrote.

Some justice might still be possible for Man Walker. Ruby, died in 1992 and did not live see it. I hope his children still may.

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August 2, 2018

The David Byrne concert in Boston on Tuesday night was as great or greater than any fan (and I am a big fan) would expect. But another great thing about the concert was being exposed to the music of Benjamin Clementine, who opened up for Byrne.

June 11, 2018

Supreme Court Upholds Ohio’s Purge of Voting Rolls (New York Times)

A Reuters study in 2016 found that at least 144,000 people were removed from the voting rolls in recent years in Ohio’s three largest counties, which are home to Cleveland, Cincinnati and Columbus.

Voters have been struck from the rolls in Democratic-leaning neighborhoods at roughly twice the rate as in Republican neighborhoods,” the study found. Neighborhoods that have a high proportion of poor, African-American residents are hit the hardest.”…

The Justice Department for decades took the position that failing to vote should not lead to disenfranchisement….

After the last presidential election, the department switched sides in the case, Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute, No. 16-980.

May 3, 2018

Finding Truth in Police Killings of Young Black Men

I had the honor of speaking in March at the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice on the police killings of Army Cpl. Roman Ducksworth, Jr. in 1962 and Michael Brown, Jr. in 2014. The video of the talk is now online.

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May 3, 2018

Oakland passes groundbreaking municipal law requiring citizen oversight of local surveillance / Boing Boing

Oakland City Council unanimously passed the city’s Rules for Surveillance”, the country’s most stringent police surveillance oversight law.

The law provides for a Privacy Advisory Commission” and directs police to produce an annual report with fine-grained details of how surveillance technology was used. The Privacy Advisory Commission must be notified any time the city and its police seek funding or appropriations to procure any new surveillance technology. The city is also barred from entering into nondisclosure agreements with surveillance technology providers that would impair this transparency – a key provision, doubtless inspired by the Harris Corporation’s practice of binding police departments to secrecy over its Stingray cellphone spying devices, a bizarre attempt to thwart transparency that culminated with Federal agents raiding local police departments to seize evidence before it could be introduced in open court, which would have revealed the existence and characteristics of Stingray devices.