Dead Supremacist Walking
The phrase used to proceed a death-row inmate on his final journey, “Dead Man Walking” takes on a rather macabre meaning in the case of James Ford Seale. According to the Herald Sun, Seale pleaded not guilty yesterday to the 1964 killings of Henry Hezekiah Dee and Charles Eddie Moore.
A former Ku Klux Klan member pleaded not guilty today to charges in the 1964 murders of two black teenagers in Mississippi, in a case that highlights violence used by white supremacists during the civil rights era.
Marshals escorted James Seale, 71, to and from federal court in Jackson for an initial hearing on kidnapping and conspiracy charges.
A three-count indictment says Mr Seale trained a shotgun on the teenagers while his companions beat them. Then they attached heavy weights to the pair and threw them alive into the Mississippi River.
Although Mr Seale doesn’t face the death penalty, his case does somehow remind one of the Day of the Dead. You see reports of Mr. Seale’s premature demise were somehow slightly overstated.
The story starts at the height of the civil rights movement. Two black, 19 year old teenagers were hitchhiking in rural Mississippi in May 1964; unfortunately the wrong Volkswagen stopped. According to the June 2000 story in the Clarion-Ledger, the teens were then taken into the forest; beaten or in Klan jargon “whipped”; driven to the Mississippi; tied to an old Jeep engine block and drowned. The only reason for not shooting them first was because shooting would have gotten the boat bloody. Nice.
In rural Mississippi in 1964, this probably wouldn’t have caused much of a ruckus, it was par for the course. But one month later, 3 civil rights activists, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, disappeared. These weren’t poor black Mississippians, 2 were activists from New York and that was news, national news. The FBI got involved and the story of the search for Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner became the stuff movies are made of.
But during the search for the three men, a the lower half of a body was found in the Mississippi river. A more through search was made and a second body was found. Dee and Moore had been found.
Based on information from a Klan informant, James Ford Seale and Charles Marcus Edwards were arrested and interrogated by the FBI. The Clarion-Ledger story then goes on to quote the rather Kafkaesque questioning,
According to FBI documents, authorities confronted Seale and told him they knew he and others took Dee and Moore “to some remote place and beat them to death. You then transported and disposed of their bodies by dropping them in the Mississippi River. You didn’t even give them a decent burial. We know you did it. You know you did. The Lord above knows you did it.”
“Yes,” Seale is quoted as replying, “but I’m not going to admit it. You are going to have to prove it.”
When authorities arrested Edwards, he “admitted that he and James Seale picked up Dee and another Negro in vicinity of Meadville, Miss., and took them to an undisclosed wooded area where they were ‘whipped,’ ” a Nov. 6, 1964, FBI document says. “States victims were alive when he departed the wooded area.”
The FBI didn’t have jurisdiction to prosecute the case and turned it over to the local District Attorney Lenox Foreman. Foreman promised to bring the evidence to a grand jury, but despite repeated
failures to communicate attempts by the FBI to jump-start the case, Forman never did and the case dropped into obscurity.
It was 35 years later that reporters from the Clarion-Ledger, while going through over 1000 pages of documents found a
bullethole loophole missed in the original proceedings. It became likely that the two teenagers had been on federal property when the beating took place. This moved the case from the local to the federal prosecutors office. They chose to follow up.
There was only one problem. At least according to James Ford Seale, Jr. The story as related by the Associated Press in 2005 could only take place in rural Mississippi or perhaps Hollywood.
In 2000, a Jackson newspaper, The Clarion-Ledger, uncovered documents indicating that the beatings might have occurred in the Homochitto National Forest. Claiming jurisdiction, the Justice Department reopened the case.
Not long after, Mr. Seale “died.”
The Los Angeles Times published an article on the case in June 2002, which said Mr. Seale had died the previous year.
In 2003, The Clarion-Ledger ran a series on unsolved cases from the civil rights era. An item on the Dee-Moore case included comments Mr. Seale had made “before his death.”
While filming a documentary on the 1964 killings, the brother of one of the victims, Thomas Moore, discovered that Seale Sr was still alive and – um – kicking . Probably still hating as well. The case has finally come to trial and yesterday Seale Sr entered a plea of not guilty. Now he will be tried by a jury. The AP has also published an excellent summary of the story.
In other current white supremacist news, it seems Kevin Alfred Strom, the founder of National Vanguard and one of the leading “intellectuals” in the neo-Nazi movement, has been arrested and charged with child pornography and witness tampering. Strom’s former and current wife seem to be publicly agreeing to the charges. But not all the rats are abandoning ship. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center,
One other woman spoke up, too. April Gaede, a long-time National Alliance activist who quit that group to help Strom form National Vanguard, told the VNN web forum that Strom had called her in March 2006, four months before he took his mysterious leave of absence. Strom “told me that [Elisha] had found some porn on his computer and that it was of adult females but that she freaked out and called him a pervert,” Gaede wrote. “Then he told me that she had threatened to ‘get even’ with him and that he was afraid that she would plant something on his computer.”
Unmentioned by Gaede was the role Strom has played recently as promoter at concert after concert of Prussian Blue — the folk-singing, neo-Nazi duet comprised of Gaede’s two daughters, pretty blonde twins who recently turned 15.
(Hat Tip and obsequious grovel to Trees/AnomalousData for that.)
One can only hope that these people are finally either dying out, being prosecuted or simply self destructing.
Maybe it’s a case of Dead Supremacist Walking.