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Marion Brothers

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Quest into the Death of Pfc. LaVena Johnson

Dear Congress:

Pfc. LaVena Johnson died for her country in Iraq... eight days shy of her twentieth birthday. But she did not die like the faithful soldier she was. Neither does it appear that she died of suicide like the U. S. Army claims.

On Thursday, July 31 at 10:00 am, the Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs will conduct an oversight hearing into the current status of sexual response and prevention within the U.S. military. The hearing entitled, “Oversight Hearing on Sexual Assault in the Military”, will feature testimony from two individuals who have experienced difficulties in how the U.S. military responded to incidents of rape they or a family member personally experienced while living on military installations.

We have petitioned Chairman Henry Waxman to reopen the case of Pfc. LaVena Johnson. We ask for your help and assistance.

File Information:

From Shakespear Sister Blog:

Once upon a time lived a young woman from a St. Louis suburb. She was an honor roll student, she played the violin, she donated blood and volunteered for American Heart Association walks. She elected to put off college for a while and joined the Army once out of school. At Fort Campbell, KY, she was assigned as a weapons supply manager to the 129th Corps Support Battalion.

She was LaVena Johnson, private first class, and she died near Balad, Iraq, on July 19, 2005, just eight days shy of her twentieth birthday. She was the first woman soldier from Missouri to die while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.

An Army representative initially told LaVena's father, Dr. John Johnson, that his daughter died of "died of self-inflicted, non-combat injuries," but initially added that it was not a suicide. The subsequent Army investigation reversed this finding and declared LaVena's death a suicide, a finding refuted by the soldier's family. In an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Dr. Johnson pointed to indications that his daughter had endured a physical struggle before she died - two loose front teeth, a "busted lip" that had to be reconstructed by the funeral home - suggesting that "someone might have punched her in the mouth."

KMOV Channel 4 News Report Findings into the Death of Pfc. Johnson

When the Private Johnson’s parents received her body, “they noticed signs that she had been beaten. That was when they started asking questions… After two years of being denied answers and hearing explanations that made no sense, the Johnsons received a CD-ROM from someone on the inside. It contained pictures of the crime scene where LaVena died and an autopsy showing that she had suffered bruises, abrasions, a dislocated shoulder, broken teeth, and some type of sexual assault. Her body was partially burned; she had been doused in a flammable liquid, and someone had set her body on fire. A corrosive chemical had been poured in her genital area, perhaps to cover up evidence of rape.

Still the Army sticks by their story. They refuse to explain the overwhelming physical evidence that LaVena was raped and murdered and continue to claim that she killed herself.

Inquiries into Nowhere

Army officials refuse to reexamine the LaVena Johnson case, declaring the matter closed. But they had also declared the case of Pat Tillman closed. They altered the fact that he had been killed by “friendly fire”, just one instance in a series of military cover-ups, at the time.

Now military officials tell one story and the mortician tells another. Who am I to believe?

From henceforth: I would advise women soldiers to defend themselves against wolves in patriotic sheep clothing. And, to African-Americans, avoid the U.S. Army altogether.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Officer may be indicted for Tasing Death of Scooter

By Eddie Griffin

On Monday, July 21, I published “The Taser Death of Scooter” based up Chicago Tribune’s article “Taser death ignites racial tensions” by Howard Witt. The unconscionable tasing death of Baron “Scooter” Pikes at the hands of a white police officer in Winnfield, Louisiana in January, only a few miles from Jena, gave me reason to dismay at the state of justice in this back wood area where racism is prevalent.

In my commentary, I called upon the U. S. Department of Justice to investigate the case, because I believed that “the state of Louisiana will do nothing”. The fact that Pikes was first cousin of Jena 6 defendant Mychal Bell made the circumstances of his death all the more suspicious.

In a breaking development in today’s Chicago Tribune, Howard Witt’s update on the case, “Indictment sought for police Taser death in Louisiana”, offers a glimmer of hope for justice in the case of this young African-American, who was electrocuted by repeated tasing, while begging for his life.

According to the previous report, Dr. Randolph Williams, the Winn Parish coroner, determined after investigating the death that officer Scott Nugent administered a total of nine 50,000-volt Taser shocks to Pikes over a 14-minute period-and that the last two jolts were delivered after Pikes had lost consciousness.

After consulting about the case with Dr. Michael Baden, a nationally prominent forensic pathologist, Williams ruled last month that Pikes' death was a homicide. On the death certificate, he listed the cause of death as “cardiac arrest following nine 50,000-volt electroshock applications from a conductive electrical weapon.”

“Seeking to defuse growing racial tensions in the small Louisiana town of Winnfield,” writes Witt, “the local district attorney announced Monday that he will seek an indictment against a white police officer for the death of a black man who was shocked nine times with a Taser device while handcuffed in police custody… Winn Parish District Atty. Chris Nevils said he would convene a grand jury Aug. 12 to consider possible charges against the officer, Scott Nugent, 21, who was fired from the Winnfield Police Department following the death of Baron ‘Scooter’ Pikes.”

Eddie Griffin comment:

Why I wrong about Louisiana authorities, or is the local district attorney under pressure from public outcry? Or, does it really matter, as long as justice prevails?

There is nothing anyone can do to bring Scooter back. But it would be more tragic if the grand jury “No Bills” the officer, as southern grand juries of the past.

I have a depressing memory of how a southern grand jury treated the 1955 lynching case of 14-year old Emmett Till. The grand jury had overwhelming evidence against the assailants, but refused to indict them. Later, in a Look Magazine article, Tills murderers were paid $4,000 to tell their stories. They confused knowing that they could not be tried again. And, at the time, there were no civil rights laws to prosecute hate crimes.

The lynching of this Chicago teenager in the small back wood Delta town of Money, Mississippi spurred an investigation by the NAACP. The investigator, Medgar Evers, was later assassinated on June 12, 1963 by klansman Bryon De La Beckwith, who was tried twice for the murder in the 1960s, but not convicted until 1994.

The summary electrocution death of Baron “Scooter” Pikes may still go unpunished, considering the nature of back woods justice. But it will not go unnoticed.

As for young black men, I would advise that they stay away from police with tasers. And, I would also advise the black community to hold their local police departments accountable for the deployment, use, and abuse of these 50,000-volt devices.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

FOX News Confronted by Hip-Hop Activists

By Eddie Griffin

Thursday, July 24, 2008

It’s on, baby. It was just a matter of time before FOX News got on our last black nerve. Hip-Hop rap artist Nas took it to FOX on the straight up… 620,000 petitions from ColorOfChange, the powerful online blogger syndicate of activists.

In a June 23, 2008 editorial on my BASG blog, I wrote:

We Do Not Accept FOX Channel’s apology, but rather demand the release of certain news commentators.

PLEASE COMPILE LIST of FOX news personalities that MUST GO.

FOX commentators like Bill O’Reilly of The O'Reilly Factor and Sean Hannity of Hannity & Colmes are parties of the “Axis of Ignorance”, as described by Dr. Boyce Watkins, and have together been instrumental in racist degrading insults against African-Americans. Black bloggers, allied with Color of Change, have published column upon columns of criticism related to these television personalities. The resent insult against the Obama family is the straw that broke the camels back.

A short review of FOX slander, misinformation, insults, and racist comments, visit Eddie Griffin (BASG)

Major Fox Advertisers

Earl J. Hesterberg
Vice President, Marketing
Ford Motor Company
1 American Rd
Dearborn, MI 48126-2701
TEL: (313) 322-3000
FAX: 313-845-6073

Koichi Kondo
President& CEO
American Honda Motor Co.,
1919 Torrance Boulevard
Mail Stop: 500 - 2N - 7D
Torrance, CA 90501-2746
TEL: (800) 999-1009
FAX: (310) 783-3023

Rick Kornhauser
Vice President, Marketing
Chattem, Inc.
1715 W 38th St
Chattanooga, TN 37409-1248
TEL: (800) 366-6077
FAX: (423) 821-0395

Patrick M. Byrne
Chairman & President
6322 S 3000 E Ste 100
Salt Lake City, UT 84121-6931
TEL: (801) 947-3100
FAX: (801) 944-4629

William R. Rhodes
399 Park Ave
New York, NY 10022
TEL: (800) 285-3000

Henry A. McKinnell, Jr.
Chairman & CEO
235 E 42nd St
New York, NY 10017-5755
TEL: (212) 573-2323
(212) 573-7851

Javed Ahmed
Executive Vice President
Reckitt Benckiser Inc.
Morris Corporate Center IV
399 Interpace Parkway
Parsippany, NJ 07054-0225
TEL: (800) 333-3899
FAX: (973) 404-5700

R. Kerry Clark
Vice Chairman
Procter & Gamble
1 Procter & Gamble Plaza
Cincinnati, OH 45202
TEL: 513-983-1100
FAX: 513-983-9369

Charles Fruit
Chief Marketing Officer
The Coca Cola Company
1 Coca Cola Plaza
Atlanta, GA 30313
TEL: 404-676-2121
FAX: 404-676-6792

Paul Carothers
Vice President, Public Affairs
Kraft Foods
3 Lakes Drive
Northfield, IL 60093
TEL: 847-646-2000
FAX: 847-646-6005

Kathleen Flaherty
Chief Marketing Officer
1 AT&T Way
Bedminster, NJ 07921
TEL: 908-221-2000
FAX: 908-532-1675

John Middlebrook
Vice President
General Motors
300 Renaissance Center
Detroit, MI 48265-3000
TEL: 313-556-5000
FAX: 248-696-7300

Janine M. Bousquette
Chief Marketing Officer
3333 Beverly Rd
Hoffman Estates, IL 60179
TEL: 847-286-2500
FAX: 847-286-7829

Kelly Mankin
Vice President, Marketing
1000 Chrysler Dr
Auburn Hills, MI 48326-2766
TEL: 248-576-5741
FAX: 248-576-4742

Jill Kelly-Paget
Corporate Communications
1675 Broadway
New York, NY 10019
TEL: 212-468-3828
FAX: 212-468-4110

Charlie Rutman
Carat USA
3 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10016
TEL: 212-689-6800
FAX: 212-689-6005

Dennis Donlin
General Motors Planworks
150 W. Jefferson, Suite 400
Detroit, MI 48226
TEL: 313-237-8111
FAX: 313-237-8490

Cheri Carpenter
Media Contact
Starcom MediaVest
35 W. Wacker Drive
Chicago, IL 60601
TEL: 312.220.6218
FAX: 312.220.6530

Bob Lilley
Vice President, Media Marketing
375 Hudson Street
New York, NY 10014
TEL: 212-820-3161
FAX: 212-820-3300

Charles Courtier
Worldwide Executive Chairman
825 Seventh Avenue
New York, NY 10019
TEL: 212-474-0000
FAX: 212-474-0001

Robert Mancini
Executive Director
Ford Motor Media
500 Woodward Ave.
Detroit, MI, 48226-3428
TEL: 313-964-3800
FAX: 313-845-6073

Marc Goldstein
Chief Executive Officer
498 7th Ave
New York, NY 10018
TEL: 646-756-4000
FAX: 646-756-4060

Mike Vogel
Chief Executive Officer
PHD Detroit
840 W Long Lake Rd
Troy, MI 48098
TEL: 248-293-3400
FAX: 248-293-3434

Peter M. Butterfield
President and CEO
PO Box 52410
Irvine, CA 92619-2410
TEL: 949-470-7000
FAX: 949-470-2800

Richard D. Fairbank
Chairman, President and CEO
Capital One
1680 Capital One Dr
McLean, VA 22042-4500
TEL: 703-720-1000

Jay Carothers
Chairman and CEO
300 Crossways Park Dr
Woodbury, NY 11797
TEL: (516) 496-9560
FAX: (631) 927-1780

John Stratton
VP & Chief Mktg Officer
180 Washington Valley Rd
Bedminster, NJ 07921-2120
TEL: (800) 214-3555
FAX: (908) 306-7766

John F. Antioco
Chm & CEO
1201 Elm St
Dallas, TX 75270-2102
TEL: (214) 854-3000

Yukitoshi Funo
19001 S Western Ave
Torrance, CA 90501-1106
TEL: (310) 468-4000
FAX: (310) 468-7800

Eric Milledge
Company Group Chairman
LifeScan, Inc.
1000 Gibraltar Drive
Milpitas, CA 95035
TEL: (408) 263-9789

Jim Julow
Vice President
Dodge Magnum/Dakota,
DamlierChysler Corp
1000 Chrysler Dr
Auburn Hills, MI 48326-2766
TEL: (248) 576-5741
FAX: (248) 512-2817

Emil J. Brolick
Taco Bell
17901 Von Karman Ave
Irvine, CA 92614-6253
TEL: (949) 863-4500
FAX: (949) 863-409

Marc Covent
Slim Fast
777 S Flagler Dr Ste 1400
West Palm Beach, FL 33401-
TEL: (561) 833-9920
FAX: (561) 822-2876

William R Rhodes
TEL: (212) 793-6872

Fox News Channel
1211 Ave. of the Americas
New York, NY 10036
Phone: (212) 301-3000
Fax: (212) 301-4229

List of Email addresses for all Fox News Channel programs

Special Report with Brit Hume:

FOX Report with Shepard Smith:

The O'Reilly Factor:

Hannity & Colmes:,

On the Record with Greta:

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Surge and the Cost

Senator John McCain likes to boast that the surge in Iraq is working. As the cost of the war continues to pull down our national economy, the surge of troops only proves that the war is not a sink hole yet. But the drain upon national resources and public morale cannot be measured.

How can our leaders lead us down this perilous path and then sit back and watch us sink into recession, if not worse? Let former Texas senator Phil Graham tell it, we are all a nation of whiners and crybabies.

But I remember something Jesus said about a king going to war and sitting down and counting up the cost. When I reread Luke 14:28-31, I find an example of a builder who did not count up the cost And, what he built he left unfinished.

Somebody did not sit down and count up the cost of this war. Wasn’t it former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld who predicted that the cost of the war would run $50 billion?

Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize-winning economist and self-described opponent of the war, puts the final figure at a staggering $1 trillion to $2 trillion, including $500 billion for the war and occupation and up to $300 billion in future health care costs for wounded troops. Additional costs include a negative impact from the rising cost of oil and added interest on the national debt.

We have poured in 130,000 troops, many of whom have repeated rotations since the war started in 2003. Over 4,000 casualties and hundreds of thousand wounded.

The cost of war is the soul of a nation.

We are now guilty ourselves of inhumane acts against our enemies, including murder, arbitrary imprisonment, and torture.

The surge is working, but not in the right direction. We have created more enemies in the world, than we have friends, and our friends have abandoned us slowly. This is a U.S. invasion, not a NATO invasion. So called allies were relegated to a stick figure role in the conflict. We are out here, and at it, all alone, imbued in a stew of self-righteousness.

The outgoing Commander-in-Chief George W. Bush sat down and counted up what cost before he invaded Iraq?

A bird told him in his ear that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction… a wrong calculation. Then the American public was misinformed that Iraq supported al-Qaeda, which would imply that Saddam Hussein was in collusion with Osama bin Laden… wrong again.

This premise of base assumptions for going to war was wrong. Therefore, if the premise is wrong, how can you reach a right conclusion? There it is, simple stupid logic: Premise plus Argument upon Argument upon Argument leads to wrong Conclusion when the Premise is fabricated and faulty.

Some say, however, that the US was after Iraqi oil. The Iraqi pipeline and infrastructure became a high risk investment for somebody, especially considering the internal dispute over who would have power over the oil. Defending this investment has been the total cost of this war so far, a cost not calculated.

After all, the war was supposed to be over quickly, but western machines and vehicles endured constant sand damage, pipelines were blown up by militants, villagers were terrorized, caught betwixt and between insurgent and invaders. Thus began the mass exodus out of the country.

The U. S. attempt to install a new government turned sour. The people did not want a puppet regime like the late Shah of Iran, the last monarch and western puppet, nicknamed “king of kings” because of his vast wealth holding. However, the shah and his western friends were deposed in the Iranian Revolution in 1979.

Eventually, the Shah of Iran wondered from country to country, with a horde of the Iranian treasury in tow. Finally, he wounded up in the U.S. under a medical umbrella provided by President Jimmy Carter. The Iranian people protested and took American hostages. The U.S. has been barred from reentering Iran since.

NOW, President George W. Bush is not the greatest military strategist in the world. In military IQ, he would have been dead last for the SNAFU in Iraq.

One would think George would have learned something from Texas history about General Sam Houston, and how he enticed General Santa Anna and his Mexican army deeper and deeper into the wilderness of Texas, far north of the Rio Grande, far away from its supply lines. Then he doubled back and caught the Mexicans napping.

Why were they napping on the battlefield? The large and highly trained Mexican army was literally invincible. Remember the Alamo massacre.

But Santa Anna was overconfident against a little rag-tag bunch of rebels. They never expected Sam Houston to double back on them.

By the same token, we, the American public, never expected an Iraqi insurgency would arise and sustain itself. In the eyes of our Commander-in-Chief, this must have looked like a little rag-tag army.

What part of the Arab language does King George not understand? Jihad means fight to the death of the last man.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Taser Death of Scooter

WINNFIELD, La.-- At 1:28 p.m. last Jan. 17, Baron "Scooter" Pikes was a healthy 21-year-old man. By 2:07 p.m., he was dead… What happened in the 39 minutes in between--during which Pikes was handcuffed by local police and shocked nine times with a Taser device, while reportedly pleading for mercy--is now spawning fears of a political cover-up in this backwoods Louisiana lumber town infamous for backroom dealings, reports Howard Witt of the Chicago Tribune

This backwoods Louisiana lumber town is just 40 miles down the road from Jena, site of the massive September 20 Jena 6 Demonstration.

The coincident is just too plain to ignore. Forty miles from Jena is talking distance, and I can assume the authorities in Winnfield were very much aware of the Jena Six case.

But Howard Witt brings out more of the area’s historical background, a part of the country known for corruption and abuse of power.

Witt writes:

Here in the birthplace of two of Louisiana's most colorful and notorious governors--Huey and Earl Long--the police chief committed suicide three years ago after losing a close election marred by allegations of fraud and vote-buying… Just four months later, the district attorney killed himself after allegedly skimming $200,000 from his office budget and extorting payments from criminal defendants to make their cases go away.

The current police chief is a convicted drug offender who got a pardon from Edwin Edwards, the former Louisiana governor who is serving time in federal prison for corruption convictions… All of that tangled history is now wrapped up in the Pikes case, because Scott Nugent, the officer who Tasered him, is the well-connected son of the former police chief who killed himself--and the protégé of the current chief, who hired him onto the force.

Eddie Griffin response:

All I can think about is them electrocuting this young man while he screamed out for mercy.

How can people of good conscious bear it? Are we not horrified by the background and circumstances of this death?

As much as we know of the racial atmosphere of Jena, Louisiana, we have often suspected that the surrounding backwoods area was equally sordid with the vestiges of oppression from the time of slavery. The people here are as suppressed as blacks caught on the highway in Mississippi after dark in the 1950s. They are abused and tortured by those in state uniform, acting under the colors of law.

The key phrase here is "acting under the color of law". Therefore, the excessive use of force, in this case, is "official oppression" and "summary execution", both of which are unlawful, federal and state.

What will happen depends on the U.S. Department of Justice. The state of Louisiana will do nothing. To do otherwise, it could be held civilly liable for Scooter's death.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Mental Illness within Our Communities:

A Case of Lost Self-Esteem & Isolation

By Eddie Griffin

Thursday, July 17, 2008

From Canada, Laina writes:

Hey Eddie;

*** We have to acknowledge that mental illness does exist within our communities and publicize places where people can either seek treatment - whether it be via black psychologists, therapists or group settings… perhaps then we can come up with solutions to solve the problems.

A couple of years ago I was working on an article for the Toronto Star and was looking to interview a black psychiatrist. I couldn't find one… I was surprised that there were not more therapists of colour available - and sure it might not mean much what ethnicity your therapist is - but I think that it might be a hindrance for some people who do not want to talk to a white therapist. I know that I don't want to!

If that means encouraging black youth to get into psychiatry or psychology, or start discussion / therapy groups, that would be great. I want to start a group for trans-cultural adoptees such as myself, who feel that they are suffering from self-esteem issues and / or isolation. It might be a small, insignificant thing for some people, but it would be a start in the right direction.

Cheers, Laina / Writing is Fighting

Eddie Griffin response:

Mental Illness is the most dominate problem in the African-American community, not that Anglo-Americans are exempt. The problem is how we define “Mental Illness”.

Let’s look at four components of the above letter in context with the problem.

First is the observation of “mental illness” in the community. This raises the question: Mental Illness from what vantage point?

This reminds me of the story of man trying to commit his crazy uncle to the mental ward. When they arrived at the hospital, the crazy uncle flipped the script, accusing the sane nephew of being the “crazy one”, which the young man vigorously denied. The psychologist, not being able to distinguish who was which, wounded up confining the sane nephew and allowing the crazy uncle to go free.

I say that to say this: A white psychologist cannot diagnosis a black man. In fact, the mass of whites do not understand blacks, because blacks do not fit neatly into the paradigm.

For years, I have disputed with psychologists about their evaluation methodology.

I neither endorse nor subscribe to conventional psychology. Therefore, I can understand why Laina does not want to talk to a white therapist. In fact, I never understood how one person could psycho-evaluate what goes on in another person’s head.

Subjecting oneself to a psychotherapist, in my view, is like putting oneself into the hands of a hypnotist.

Second, Laina further writes: I was surprised that there were not more therapists of colour available. There are black psychologists that “get it”, but most do not.

Psychology is culturally based. That takes into account the uniqueness of the individual, the subject’s ethnicity and regional background.

I remember once contending against an MIT doctor that it was not possible to conceive what goes on inside the mind of a black man, especially a Texas outlaw. In a match of wits, where the stakes were high, the doctor lost. Conventional psychology does not fit black people.

Third, Laina suggests that more black youth pursue a study in psychology.

The field of psychology is still ill-defined. Looking at the dismal state of mass psychosis today, we can demonstrate no improvement in the socialization process, using the current “melting pot” curriculum, and an estranged cultural paradigm. People are acculturated differently.

Now there is new generational psychosis cropping up, unique to the younger generation. (Whacked, I called it). But there are lingering old maladies, such as drugs and alcoholism and the associated neurological damages prevalent in our culture. Although the brain may have the capability of repairing damaged neurological networks, once connectors are severed by substance abuse, the individual is never quite the same again.

It makes it no better that we are a heavily medicated society, not because of our psycho-physiological needs, as much as it is for the profit of pharmaceutical companies. Again, foreign chemical substances alter the function of the brain. Any person on drugs, legal or illegal, cannot think and function at full capacity. They call it a trade-off, robbing the mind to keep the body healthy.

Then there is the gene pool that produces various birth-related deformities that rob some of babies of their cognitive and intellectual abilities by the time they are born.

Of course, there are those who are shaped by environmental factors, including those heavily influenced of television-watching. These are people who mentally map their environment by the distortion and misinformation they see on television. These people, though normal in all other capacities, are customarily “blindsided” because of their idealized view of the world.

The susceptibility of being “blindsided” is demonstrated when the driver of one car runs into another. “It was an accident, because I did not see you,” is the usual explanation. But how could it be possible not to see something right before a person’s eyes? The only explanation is the some people put on mental blinders. They put their minds on autopilot based assumption, in order to let their minds rest and “not have to think”. Then, Oops! An accident happens that they never saw coming. So, it characterizes their permanent mental state.

Fourth, Laina writes: I want to start a group for trans-cultural adoptees such as myself, who feel that they are suffering from self-esteem issues and / or isolation.

Half of the solution is self-diagnosis. There other half is therapy. Assuming that nobody is 100% sane, we all, therefore, are undergoing some form of therapy, which I typically call the “socialization process”, learning how to live with self and those around you, and building healthy relationships.

What are self-esteem issues? It is how we perceive ourselves through our own eyes. It remembers of a story in the bible about a people who were “grasshoppers in their own eyes”. Therefore, they feared to take on the challenge of conquering the land. So, they wondered around in the wilderness for 40 years.

Take a look at the last 40 years of your life. Have you been wondering in the wilderness, with low self-esteem, a sense of hopelessness and helplessness?

Are you alone in the world, isolated and alienated… alienated from others… alienated from self?

If there is a new psychology curriculum, the scope should cover the subject: Alienation & Self-Alienation.

The suggestion of a starting a group for trans-cultural adoptees is a good idea. Laina must break out of the isolated shell. To be useful and hence more valuable, she must engage the world in a direct way.

From personal experience, Eddie Griffin engages the world by preaching the gospel. But the gospel seems not to be everybody’s cup of tea.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Cartoon World & Barack Obama

HAT TIP to Anderson @ Large

It takes intellectual savvy to listen to Barack Obama’s words and discover his wisdom in responding to the New Yorker cover. Anderson @ Large has ears to hear and eyes to see.

New Yorker Magazine Runs for Cover

The July 21 cover of the New Yorker perpetuates racial stereotypes. In the name of satire, the "Politics of Fear" cartoon plays into the smear that Barack Obama is not patriotic. The depiction of Michelle Obama as an AK-47-toting revolutionary in combat boots evokes the "Angry Black Woman."

In a transparent attempt to cover its rear, the New Yorker has compiled a gallery of past political covers. But without context, the current satirical cover merely fuels "a lot of distortions, lies and misconceptions about the Obamas."


For his part, Obama is downplaying the kerfuffle. He told CNN's Larry King:

Well, I know it was the New Yorker's attempt at satire. I don't think they were entirely successful with it. But you know what? It's a cartoon, Larry, and that's why we've got the First Amendment.

And I think the American people are probably spending a little more time worrying about what's happening with the banking system and the housing market, and what's happening in Iraq and Afghanistan, than a cartoon.

So I haven't spent a lot of time thinking about it.

King asked, "Did it personally sting you?"

Obama said:

I've seen and heard worse. I do think that, you know, in attempting to satirize something, they probably fueled some misconceptions about me instead. But, you know, that was their editorial judgment.

Ultimately it’s a cartoon. It’s not where the American people are spending a lot of their time thinking about

OK, end of story

[Read Essays by Eddie Griffin referencing “Cartoon World”]

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Justice Department Review of TASER-related Deaths

SUNDAY, JULY 13, 2008

Justice Department Review of TASER-related Deaths

[Excerpts by Eddie Griffin]

Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) applauds the U.S. Department of Justice for its decision to review the deaths of up to 180 people who died after law enforcement officials shot them with TASERs.

According to news reports, the Justice Department review will initially focus on 30 deaths, including one from two decades ago. The review, which could take up to two years, will enlist the help of the National Association of Medical Examiners, the American College of Pathologists, the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Amnesty International (AI) has identified more than 150 TASER-related deaths in the United States since June 2001.

TASERs are powerful electro-shock weapons… designed to incapacitate by conducting 50,000 volts of electricity into an individual's body. The electrical pulses induce skeletal muscle spasms that immobilize and incapacitate the individual, causing him to fall to the ground.

Compare an electric chair execution. Notice the amount of voltage administered

From Eddie Griffin’s Taser Files

Zap! Over 270 people wiped out, electrocuted by tasers. And now introducing the more formidable laser guided taser cannon, the TASER X26.

The Taser, produced by Taser International, Inc. (Nasdaq:TASR)

When Valreca Redden, an expectant mother, was tased by a Trotwood police officer, the pain reverberated around the world and the debate reignited.

As the Gwinnett County sheriff deputies administer 50,000 volt shocks into his body, they repeatedly demand that he “stop resisting”. (How can a man with 50,000 volts of electricity passing through his body keep still, let alone an epileptic? The electric chair only used 20,000 volts.)

Prelude to Memoirs of Eddie Griffin


Marshall, Texas became known as the Athens of Texas, in reference to the ancient Greek city state. The city was founded in 1841 during the Republic of Texas era (1836 to 1845), with a land grant from Peter Whetstone and Isaac Van Zandt.

The city's growing importance was confirmed when Marshall was linked by a telegraph line to New Orleans, becoming the first city in Texas to have a telegraph service. It was also the first city in Texas to use electricity.

By 1860 the city was the fourth largest city in Texas and the richest county with more slaves than any other in the state. It became the political and production center of the Confederacy during the Civil War.

The county had more slaves than any other in the state, making it a hotbed of anti-Union sentiment.

K. M. Van Zandt writes that in 1859, “Agitators for the North came to incite the Negro slaves to rebellion”. In 1861, a military company was organized and known as “Bass’s Gray”. K. M. Van Zandt served in this unit as 2nd Lt.

FOOTNOTE: “Fear of Northern agitation and Negro insurrections was widespread throughout the South. During this period, home guards and vigilance committees were formed by man communities and all Northerners were suspect.

At Fort Worth, two men, Burley and Crawford, were hanged; and the popular editor of the Fort Worth Whig Chief, A. B. Norton, was forced to discontinue publication of the paper and fled the country.”

[Source: Force Without Fanfare: Autobiography of K. M. Van Zandt]

By 1862, fear and panic spread throughout northern and eastern Texas and culminated in the: Great Hanging at Gainesville, 1862.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Graveyard Stories

By Eddie Griffin

Monday, July 14, 2008

Marshall, Texas

Marshall, founded in 1841, was the county seat of Harrison County. It was political and production center of the Confederacy during the Civil War, and was a major railroad center of the T&P Railroad from the late 19th century until the mid-20th century.

The Republic of Texas decided to choose the site of land granted by Peter Whetstone and Isaac Van Zandt.

The establishment of several "colleges"— schools offering little more than secondary education—earned Marshall the nickname the Athens of Texas, in reference to the ancient Greek city state. The city's growing importance was confirmed when Marshall was linked by a telegraph line to New Orleans, becoming the first city in Texas to have a telegraph service.

By 1860 the city was the fourth largest city in Texas and the richest, The county had more slaves than any other in the state, making it a hotbed of anti-Union sentiment. When Gov. Sam Houston refused to take an oath of allegiance to the Confederacy, Marshall's Edward Clark was sworn in as governor. Marshall would also produce Texas's third Confederate governor, Pendleton Murrah. Marshall became a major Confederate city; producing gunpowder and other supplies for the Confederate Army.

The city also became the capital of Missouri's Confederate government-in-exile. political and production center of the Confederacy during the Civil War, and was a major railroad center of the T&P Railroad from the late 19th century until the mid-20th century. It was nicknamed the City of Seven Flags, in allegiance to the flag of Missouri, although only six flags had flown over the rest of the state. She became known as the Athens of Texas.

Marshall became the seat of civil authority and headquarters of the Trans-Mississippi Postal Department after the fall of Vicksburg. The city may have been the intended target of a failed Union advance that was rebuffed at Mansfield, Louisiana.

Marshall was occupied by Union forces on June 17, 1865. During Reconstruction the city was home to an office of the Freedmen's Bureau and was the base for Union troops. In 1873 The Methodist Episcopal Church founded Wiley College to educate free men. African-Americans came to the city seeking opportunities and protection until 1878, when the Citizens Party, led by former Confederate General Walter P. Lane and his brother George, took control of the city and county governments and ran Unionists, Republicans and many African-Americans out of town.

The Citizens Party, led by former Confederate General Walter P. Lane and his brother George, took control of the city and county governments and ran Unionists, Republicans and many African-Americans out of town. The Lanes ultimately declared Marshall and Harrison County "redeemed" from Union and African-American control. Despite this the African-American community would continue to progress with the establishment of Bishop College in 1881 and the certification of Wiley by the Freedman's Aid Society in 1882.

The city's large African American population and the presence of black institutions of higher learning made Marshall a center of the civil rights movement in the South.

City of Marshall offered to donate land north of the downtown to the Texas and Pacific Railway if the company would move to Marshall. T&P President Jay Gould accepted and located the T&P's workshops and general offices for Texas in Marshall.

The city benefited immediately from a population explosion. By 1880 the city was one of the South's largest cotton markets. The city's new prosperity became apparent with the opening of J. Weisman and Co., the first department store in Texas, and with the installation of a single lightbulb in the Texas and Pacific Depot, Marshall became the first city in Texas to have electricity.

Despite the prosperity of the railroad era, poverty continued to be a problem in the city among all races, but tensions between whites and African-Americans continued to worsen as segregation crystallized in the city. The rural areas of Harrison County saw greater interaction between white people and African-Americans. There, whites and blacks being neighbors was commonplace. Even though the areas surrounding Marshall were somewhat integrated, racism was still apparent in everyday life. The fact that several plantation owners divided up sizable tracts of land and gave them to their former slaves may also have contributed to these tensions.

October 1903 and August 1917 at least twelve people were lynched in the Marshall-Longview area, including these:

Hensley Johnson lynched Carthage Texas April 26 1903
Walker Davis lynched Marshall Texas October 1 1903
Albert Fields lynched Longview Texas April 9 1908
"Mose" Creole lynched Marshall Texas April 30 1909
"Pie" Hill lynched Marshall Texas April 30 1909
James Hodges lynched Marshall Texas April 27 1909
Anderson lynched Marshall Texas February 25 1913
Charles Jones lynched Marshall Texas August 22 1917

[Eddie Griffin family’s roots are deep in East Texas: from Marshall, Texas to Longview, Texas]

REF. “Force without Fanfare” by K. M. Van Zandt

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Stroll Through Hell's Half Acre with Bat Masterson

By Eddie Griffin

Recently, I decided to return to writing my memoirs, more excited now than ever before. Since being released from prison in 1984, I have gone about researching my experiences. For 12 years, I had little contact with the outside world. I remember stories. That’s all.

It never occurred to me that I might be making history until after Tom Kellam, archivist for the Fort Worth Public Library, recognized the newspaper account of the 1972 bank robbery. I was an outlaw, in the tradition of the Old Wild West, in a city where the West began.

The other day I visited the Sid Richardson Museum and had a lovely chat with the historian. When she heard my story, she immediately knew who I was. The museum guard looked at me strangely. But the historian was pleased to meet me. We chatted about old times.

The museum is named after the legendary Texas oilman Sid W. Richardson (1891-1959). Museum has been one of Historic Sundance Square’s top attractions, drawing more than 50,000 visitors a year from all over the world.

The center of our conversation evolved around the old Wild West cowboys and outlaws that came to Fort Worth and enjoy the sinful pleasure of downtown Hell’s Half Acre. The Museum sits in the center of what remains of Hell’s Half Acre, where I grew up.

The lower end of Hell’s Half Acre was gone. I remember seeing President John F. Kennedy come to the Texas Hotel, on the night of November 21, 1963. I was there when they turned the yellow lights on, to outline the city from the sky. We wanted John Kennedy to see our little city from Air Force One.

The old Western Union building still stood but the company has followed the decline of the railroad. Telegraph and railroad lines come to Fort Worth at the same time in 1876. That’s when Hell’s Half Acre opened its mouth.

Cowboy’s coming in off the dusty Chisholm Trail, the lit up red light district is the first thing that greets them, Hell’s Half Acre, Queen of the Prairie.

Here there was an aggregation of one and two story saloons, dance halls, and bawdy houses, interspersed with empty lots and a sprinkling of legitimate businesses. Only those looking for trouble or excitement ventured into the Acre…the usual activities of the Acre, which included brawling, gambling, cockfighting, and horse racing, were not confined to indoors but spilled out into the streets and back alleys.

But there were few classic gun fights as that between “Long-Haired” Jim Courtright and Luke Short, February 8, 1887.

From “Luke Short – Dandy Gunfighter” by W. R. (Bat) Masterson, 1906

The spring of 1881 found Luke Short in Tombstone , Arizona, dealing faro in a house managed by Wyatt Earp.

One morning I went into the Oriental gambling house, where Luke was working, just in time to keep him from killing a gambler named Charlie Storms. There was scarcely any difference between this case and the one with the bad man in Leadville a couple of years previous. Charlie Storms was one of the best-known gamblers in the entire West and had, on several occasions, successfully defended himself in pistol fights with Western "gunfighters."

Charlie Storms and I were very close friends, -- as much so as Short and I were -- and for that reason I did not care to see him get into what I knew would be a very serious difficulty. Storms did not know Short and, like the bad man in Leadville, had sized him up as an insignificant-looking fellow, whom he could slap in the face without expecting a return. Both men were about to pull their pistols when I jumped between them and grabbed Storms, at the same time requesting Luke not to shoot, -- a request I knew he would respect if it was possible without endangering his own life too much. I had no trouble in getting Storms out of the house, as he knew me to be his friend. When Storms and I reached the street I advised him to go to his room and take a sleep, for I then learned for the first time that he had been up all night, and had been quarreling with other persons.

He asked me to accompany him to his room, which I did, and after seeing him safely in his apartments, where I supposed he could go to bed, I returned to where Short was. I was just explaining to Luke that Storms was a very decent sort of man when, lo and behold! there he stood before us. Without saying a word, he took hold of Luke's arm and pulled him off the sidewalk, where he had been standing, at the same time pulling his pistol, a Colt's cut-off, 45 caliber, single action; but like the Leadvillian, he was too slow, although he succeeded in getting his pistol out. Luke stuck the muzzle of his own pistol against Storms' heart and pulled the trigger. The bullet tore the heart asunder, and as he was falling, Luke shot him again. Storms was dead when he hit the ground. Luke was given a preliminary hearing before a magistrate and exonerated.


In the spring of 1883 Luke formed a partnership with Harris and Beeson of Dodge City, and operated the Long Branch Saloon, the biggest and best paying gambling house in Dodge at the time. The mayor of Dodge, whose name was Webster, was also running a gambling house and saloon next door to that operated by Short. At this time Dodge City was the shipping point for the Texas cattle driven every summer from the great cattle ranges of western Texas to the northern markets.

A fortune was to be made every season by the gambling house that could control this trade and, as Short was from Texas and had once been a cowboy himself. The mayor and his colleagues to Short to the train station and gave him of choice of which direction out of Dodge, East or West. Luke Short took the East-bound to Kansas City.

Lining Up for a Big Fight

I was in Denver at the time, and he wired me to come to Kansas City at once, which I did. We talked the matter over when we met, and concluded to go up to Topeka and place the matter before the Governor. The next day we did so. The Governor denounced the conduct of the Dodge City authorities, but said that he could do nothing, as the local authorities at Dodge had informed him that they were amply able to preserve the peace and did not desire state interference. We stated to the Governor that we believed we were able to rehabilitate ourselves in Dodge, but did not care to run afoul state authorities, in case we concluded to do so. The Governor told us to go ahead and re-establish ourselves, if we could; that he would keep off, and wished us luck. Immediately I started for Silverton, Colorado, where Wyatt Earp was located at the time, and enlisted him in our cause. Luke went to Caldwell, Kansas, where he had a couple of staunch friends, who were willing to take the bit in their mouths and go to the front and fight his battles whenever called upon.

Wyatt was selected to land in Dodge first. With him, but unknown to the Dodge authorities, were several desperate men. Several more dropped into town unobserved by the enemy. It finally became whispered about that Wyatt Earp had a strong force of desperate men already domiciled in town in the interest of Luke Short. The mayor called a hasty meeting of his friends, and after they had all assembled in the council chamber of the city hall, informed them solemnly of what he had heard about the Earp invasion. Anyone who was present at that meeting could easily have seen that anything but a fight was what the mayor and his friends were looking for, now that such a thing was not altogether improbable. Someone present suggested that Wyatt be invited to attend the meeting and state, if he would, his position in the matter. The suggestion met with the instant approval of all present, and the mayor proceeded to forthwith appoint a committee to call upon Earp and inform him of its action. Wyatt was soon found, and told of the wishes of the assembled patriots.

"Mr. Mayor, and gentlemen of the meeting," said Wyatt; "I guess the report is true. I came here some days ago," said he; "and, thinking that perhaps something might happen where I would need assistance, brought along some other gentlemen who signified a willingness to join in whatever festivities might arise."
"Moreover," continued Wyatt, "Luke and Bat will each arrive at noon tomorrow, and on their arrival we expect to open up hostilities."

"Now, look here, Wyatt," said the mayor, "you have no better friends anywhere than we are, and we don't want any more fighting in this town. There has already been enough shooting and killing in Dodge to do for a while. Now, why can't this thing be fixed up before it goes any farther?"

"It can," said Wyatt, "if you are willing to allow Luke to return and conduct his business unmolested as heretofore.”
"I am perfectly willing to agree to that," said Webster. "And so are we," sung out the meeting in a chorus.

"All right, gentlemen," replied the phlegmatic Mr. Earp, "there shall be no conflict. I will proceed to inform both Mr. Short and Mr. Masterson of your decision in the case, and I will guarantee that if you keep your part of the agreement there shall be no bloodshed.

Luke, soon after his restoration to Dodge, concluded to settle up his affairs and move to Texas. He somehow could not bring himself to like those with whom he had so recently been on the outs, and that fall, sold out all his interests in Kansas to his partners, and went to Texas .

The fall of 1884 found him the proprietor of the White Elephant gambling house in Fort Worth. The White Elephant was one of the largest and costliest establishments of its kind in the entire Southwest at the time. As a matter of course, he made plenty of money but it required a lot of money to keep him going, for he was one of the best-hearted men who ever lived. He could not say no to anyone, and, as might be expected, was continually being imposed upon by professional "cadgers," who make it a point to borrow all they can and never pay back anything. While he made fortunes in his gambling establishments, he died a comparatively poor man. He perhaps owed less and had more money due him when he died than any gambler who ever lived.

In the spring of 1887 I visited Short in Fort Worth, and learned soon after my arrival that he was having some trouble which was likely to end seriously with a notorious local character by the name of Jim Courtright. It appears that this fellow Courtright, who had killed a couple of men in Fort Worth, also a couple more in New Mexico , and was therefore dreaded by almost the entire community, asked Short to install him as a special officer in the White Elephant. Luke, who had been a substantial friend of Courtright's during his trouble at Fort Worth, told him he could not think of such a thing.

"Why, Jim," said Luke, "I would rather pay you a good salary to stay away from my house entirely."

"You know," continued Luke, "that the people about here are all afraid of you, and your presence in my house as an officer would ruin my business."

Courtright, who was a sullen, ignorant bully, with no sense of right or wrong, could not see it as Luke did. He could not understand that it was a pure matter of business and would be much better for Short to hire him to stay away from the house altogether than to have him coming around it. At any rate, Courtright got huffy at Luke and threatened to have him indicted and his place closed up. Courtright could not get it through his head how it was that Luke had dared to turn him down. He knew that he had everybody else in town "buffaloed" and could see no reason why Luke should be different from the others.

Luke and I were sitting together in the billiard room of the "White Elephant" one evening, discussing the trouble he was having with Courtright and the effect it was likely to have on his business.
Just then, one of Luke's business associates, by the name of Jake Johnson, came to where we were sitting and informed Luke that Courtright was in the outer lobby and would like to have a talk with him.

"Tell him to come in," said Short.

"I did invite him in," replied Johnson, "but he refused and said I was to tell you to come out."

"Very well," said Luke, "I will see what he has to say; and immediately got up and accompanied Johnson to where Courtright was waiting.

It did not take Luke very long after meeting Courtright to discover that the latter's mission was anything but one of peace. He brought along no olive branch, but instead a brace of pistols, conspicuously displayed. It was not a parley that he came for, but fight, and his demeanor indicated a desire that hostilities open up forthwith.

No time was wasted in the exchange of words once the men faced each other. Both drew their pistols at the same time, but, as usual, Short's spoke first and a bullet from a Colt's 45-calibre pistol went crashing through Courtright's body. The shock caused him to reel backward; then he got another and still another, and by the time his lifeless form had reached the floor, Luke had succeeded in shooting him five times.
Luke was arrested on the spot by a deputy sheriff, and taken to the county jail, where he remained during the night. The next day he was taken before a justice of the peace. Who held him for the grand jury in a nominal bond. This ended the case. as the grand jury refused to indict on the evidence, holding that it was a case of justifiable homicide.

This ended Luke Short's shooting scrapes with the exception of a little gun dispute three years later at Fort Worth which had no fatal results.

This ended Luke Short's shooting scrapes with the exception of a little gun dispute three years later at Fort Worth which had no fatal results.

I took occasion at the opening of this story to state that when Luke reached the age of young manhood he was totally lacking in education. It is now but proper for me to say that at the time of his death, twenty years later. he was an exceptionally well-read man. He could write an excellent letter; always used good English when talking and could quote Shakespeare, Byron, Goldsmith and Longfellow better and more accurately than most scholars.

To the burning of the midnight oil was due the transformation. It transformed him from a white Indian when I first found him, to a diffident, courteous gentleman, who was, at his death about twelve years ago, one of the best known and most popular sporting men in this country.

Written by Bat Masterson, 1907

Though most of us know that W.B. "Bat" Masterson was famous as a gunfighter and friend of such characters as Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and Luke Short, many may not know that he was also a writer. After his many escapades in the American West, he accepted a post of U.S. Marshal in New York state. However, by 1891 he was working as a sports editor for a New York City newspaper. In 1907 and 1908 he wrote a series of articles for the short-lived Boston magazine, Human Life. This tale of Luke Short, was just one of several of those articles. Masterson died in 1921 of a heart attack.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Stroll through Hell’s Half Acre with an Outlaw

As told by Eddie Griffin

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

I took a stroll yesterday through downtown Fort Worth, fascinated by the rich history of what remains of Hell’s Half Acre, the remnant the Old Wild West.

In the 1880s, Fort Worth was the “queen city of the prairies”, and attracted the likes Luke Short, and his buddies, Bat Masterson, Wyatt Earp, “Doc” Holidays, and quick-draw, “Longhair Jim” Courtright.

John Swartz reputedly snapped the infamous 1901 picture of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and the "Wild Bunch", living it up in Hell’s Half Acre, right in the middle of now downtown Fort Worth, where fortunes were won and lost overnight, where they burned hundred dollar bills to light a cigar, and rubbed the golden godless for luck in the lobby of the El Paso Hotel.

Photo taken at 705 ½ Main St.

Standing left to right: William Carver, Harvey Logan

Seated left to right: Harry Longbaugh (Sundance Kid), Ben Kilpatrick, Robert Leroy Parker (Butch Cassidy)

The photographer was so proud of this group photo that he place a copy in the downstairs window where it was spotted by a passing Wells Fargo agent who recognized Harvey Logan. (The Wells Fargo office was at 817 Main Street.) Pinkerton agents and lawmen descended on downtown Ft. Worth, and the Cassidy gang fled in all directions.

On February 20, 1901, Butch, Sundance and Etta Place boarded a ship in New York, bound for South America. By May 15, 1901, the first wanted posters of the gang bearing the photo likenesses taken at 705 Main Street rolled off the presses.

What were they doing in Fort Worth?

By 1871, Burk Burnett made his first cattle drive from North Texas along the Chisholm Trail to Kansas in 1866. By 1871, Burnett began to build the 6666 Ranch. While drilling for water, he struck oil. The streets of Fort Worth were gushing in oil.

As the importance of Fort Worth as a crossroads and cowtown grew, so did Hell's Half Acre. It was originally limited to the lower end of Rusk Street (renamed Commerce Street in 1917) but spread out in all directions until by 1881 the Fort Worth Democrat was complaining that it covered 2½ acres… These boundaries, which were never formally recognized, represented the maximum area covered by the Acre, around 1900. Occasionally, the Acre was also referred to as "the bloody Third Ward" after it was designated one of the city's three political wards in 1876.

Long before the Acre reached its maximum boundaries, local citizens had become alarmed at the level of crime and violence in their city. In 1876 Timothy Isaiah (Longhair Jim) Courtright was elected City Marshal with a mandate to tame the Acre's wilder activities. Courtright had served as an army scout and acquired the name Longhair, after the style in which scouts often wore their hair. He always wore two six-shooters, butts forward, and drew from the right hip with the right hand.

Courtright cracked down on violence and general rowdiness by sometimes putting as many as 30 people in jail on a Saturday night, but allowed the gamblers to operate unmolested. After receiving information that train and stagecoach robbers, such as the Sam Bass gang, were using the Acre as a hideout, local authorities intensified law-enforcement efforts. Yet certain businessmen placed a newspaper advertisement arguing that such legal restrictions in Hell's Half Acre would curtail the legitimate business activities there.

Despite this tolerance from business, however, the cowboys began to stay away, and the businesses began to suffer. City officials muted their stand against vice. Courtright lost support of the Fort Worth Democrat and consequently lost when he ran for reelection in 1879.

Courtright was hired temporarily as deputy marshall during the Great Southwest Strike of 1886. In March, master workman Martin Irons of the Knights District Assembly 101 called a strike against Gould's Texas and Pacific Railway after the firing of a foreman in Marshall. The conflict rapidly spread to the other roads in the Southwest. Violence soon erupted after workers impeded railroad operation by uncoupling cars and seizing switch junctures. Gould hired scabs (strikebreakers) and Pinkerton detectives, and requested military assistance from state governors; Governor John Ireland sent both state militia and Texas Rangers to Buttermilk Switch in Fort Worth.

Against the wishes of striking railroaders, Courtright attempted to move the trains and, when two killings occurred, was blamed for siding with the railroads.

The Outlaws Come to Town

In February 1881 Bat Masterson accompanied Wyatt Earp and Luke Short to Tombstone, Arizona, where he assisted Earp at the gaming tables of the Oriental Saloon. He served for a time as a deputy sheriff in Las Animas, Colorado, and in 1883 was instrumental in persuading the governor of Colorado to prevent the extradition of Doc Holliday to Arizona. Masterson made his first try at the newspaper business in 1885, but his paper, the Vox Populi, ceased publication after a single issue. In 1886, in a surprising move, he briefly became a prohibitionist and closed the Dodge City saloons after being appointed a special officer. His conversion was short-lived, however. By 1887 he was working with Luke Short at the White Elephant Saloon in Fort Worth, Texas.

Luke Short was still living in Tombstone in 1881 when he was involved in a famous gunfight with a gunfighter named Charlie Storms, outside the Oriental Saloon. Storms and Short had been involved in a verbal argument earlier, which was defused by Bat Masterson, who was friends with both Short and Storms. Storms then met them on the street, jerked Short by the arm off the boardwalk, then went for his own gun. Short was the faster, killing Storms with one shot to the chest before his enemy could use his pistol. The fight was at such close quarters that Short's muzzle flash set Storms shirt on fire… point-blank range with .45 caliber derringer up the sleeve. Short was arrested for the shooting, and given a hearing, at which time the shooting was ruled to have been self defense.

In 1883 Short settled in Dodge City, Kansas, where he purchased a half interest in the now famous Long Branch Saloon, partnered with friend W.H. Harris. This put him at odds with the mayor of Dodge and his allies, who made attempts to run him out of town as an "undesirable". In what became known as the Dodge City War, Luke's friends rallied a formidable force of gunfighters to support him, including Bat Masterson, Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and Charlie Bassett. Faced with the threat of force, Short's opponents allowed him to return without a shot being fired. Later that year he sold his interest and moved to Fort Worth, Texas.

Throughout the 1880s and 1890s the Acre continued to attract gunmen, highway robbers, card sharps, con men, and shady ladies, who preyed on out-of-town and local sportsmen.

On a cold night, February 8, 1887, Courtright called Short out of the White Elephant Saloon. Courtright reportedly had been drinking, some words were passed, and the two men walked down the street about one block. There, facing one another, Courtright said something in reference to Short's gun, apparently to give the impression that the inevitable gunfight was in the line of duty. Short stated he was not armed, although he was. Short then indicated that Courtright could check for himself, and walking toward Courtright, he opened his vest. When he did so, Courtright said loudly "Don't you pull a gun on me.", and quickly drew his pistol.

However, Courtright's pistol hung on his watch-chain for a brief second, at which time Short pulled his pistol and fired one shot. The bullet tore off Courtright's right thumb, rendering him incapable of firing his single-action revolver. As he tried to switch the pistol to his left hand, Short fired at least four more times, killing him.

The gunfight became a well known event due to the notoriety of both men. Courtright was given a grand funeral with hundreds in attendance, as despite his corruption, he had lowered Fort Worth's murder rate by more than half during his time as town marshal. No blame was held toward Short however, and although he was brought to trial for the shooting, it was ruled justified self defense.

A major reform campaign in the late 1880s was brought on by Mayor Boiles and County Attorney R. L. Carlock after two events. In the first of these, on February 8, 1887, Luke Short and Jim Courtright had a shootout on Main Street that left Courtright dead and Short the "King of Fort Worth Gamblers." A few weeks later a poor prostitute known only by the name of Sally was found murdered and nailed to an outhouse door in the Acre. These two events, combined with the first prohibition campaign in Texas, helped to shut down the Acre's worst excesses in 1889.

More than any other factor, urban growth began to improve the image of the Acre, as new businesses and homes moved into the south end of town. Another change was the influx of black residents. Excluded from the business end of town and the nicer residential areas, Fort Worth's black citizens, who numbered some 7,000 out of a total population of 50,000 around 1900, settled into the south end of town.

Between 1868 and 1900, forty-three African Americans served in the state legislature, and they helped to move the state toward democracy. Such black Reconstruction leaders as George T. Ruby and Norris Wright Cuney became important members of the Republican party and, along with other blacks, dominated state Republican politics through the turn of the twentieth century. During the course of the Reconstruction period, many African Americans moved from the state's rural areas to cities such as Dallas, Austin, Houston, and San Antonio. On the outskirts of these cities they established "freedmantowns," which became the distinct black neighborhoods that still exist today.


The "lily-white" movement began within the Republican partyqv after the Civil War. From the first days of Reconstruction, a fight developed not only in Texas but across the South between white and black factions for control of the newly formed party. As white GOP leaders sought "respectability" among Southern voters and a conviction grew that continued "black and tan" involvement thwarted expansion of the party, the lily-white Republicans began an organized effort to drive blacks from positions of party leadership. Though Texas blacks appealed to Northern party managers to halt the movement, lily-whiteism flourished because Republican presidents after 1865 wanted approval from the Southern white masses. The term lily-white apparently originated at the 1888 Republican state convention in Fort Worth, when a group of whites attempted to expel a number of black and tan delegates. Norris Wright Cuney, the black Texas leader who controlled the state party from 1883 until his death in 1896, promptly labeled the insurgents "lily-whites," and the term was soon applied to similar groups throughout the South.

Actually, an organized lily-white movement had begun in Texas during the 1870s, when the party was dominated by former governor Edmund J. Davis. But once Cuney gained the national committeemanship in 1884 upon the death of Davis, the lily-whites started a concerted drive for mastery. Though Cuney was reappointed to the national committee at the 1892 Republican national convention, the black-white struggle in Texas resulted in a fractured party and the first GOP state convention without a black and tan delegation in attendance. The 1892 election proved a turning point for both GOP factions as Cuney aligned the black and tans behind George Clark, a conservative Democrat, in his fight with James S. Hogg, and the lily-whites nominated Andrew Jackson Houston for the governorship. Houston, son of Sam Houston and a future United States senator, received only 1,322 votes in the November election, while Cuney suffered a dual setback: not only did Clark go down in defeat, but the Democrat Grover Cleveland won the presidency, so that Cuney lost all federal patronage.

Southern GOP leaders, black and white, relied upon the dispensation of federal jobs to maintain their state organizations; and when Cuney lost out under Cleveland, the door was opened for a lily-white takeover. Though Cuney was replaced as national committeeman as well as state chairman during the 1896 campaign, other black and tan leaders emerged to lead the state party. Edward H. R. Green (son of multimillionaire Hetty H. R. Green), who arrived in Texas to oversee his mother's railroad empire, captured the party after Cuney's downfall by forming a political alliance with William M. (Gooseneck Bill) McDonald, a black banker from Fort Worth. The Green-McDonald partnership, however, was unable to stem the lily-white insurgents, and after Green's withdrawal as state chairman in 1902, Cecil A. Lyon, a white businessman from Sherman, took control.

William “Gooseneck” McDonald, black millionaire and political powerhouse

William Madison (Gooseneck Bill) McDonald, politician, fraternal leader, and businessman, was born on June 22, 1866, at College Mound, Texas. His father had been a slave, his mother a free woman. He attended Roger Williams University in Nashville, Tennessee, with the aid of Z. T. Adams and other white friends.

McDonald became prominent in Texas Republican politics in 1892, when he was elected to the party's state executive committee. For more than thirty years he remained a notable figure of the party and attended many Republican national conventions.

After the death of Norris Wright Cuney in 1897, McDonald became leader of the Texas Republicans. In 1896 he formed a political partnership with Edward Howland Robinson Green, who became active in Texas Republican politics as a member of the "Black and Tan" faction. Although the two men remained together for many years and survived numerous political battles, control of the party was wrested from them in 1900 by the "Lily Whites."

In 1912, as a result of the "Bull Moose" upheaval, McDonald and the Black and Tans temporarily regained control of the party.

He moved to Fort Worth and, with the support of black lodges, founded the Fraternal Bank and Trust Company, which quickly became the chief depository of funds for the state's black Masonic lodges.


The first black millionaire lived in our neighborhood in Southeast Fort Worth. I remembered the man, but knew nothing of his great political legacy. He fought the “lilly-white” movement in the Republican Party, until he flip to Democrat later in life.

But there is a strange insertion in his memoirs, about his friend in the Black and Tan wing of the party, Ned Green, son of the richest woman in the world. Gooseneck McDonald attended the funeral of Hetty Green, a guest of his friend Ned.

They called Hetty Green, a witch, because of the way she dressed, her frugal lifestyle, and body odor. But she was the richest woman in the world. So, they called her the Witch of Wall Street. She horded money and invested in Civil War bonds, known as “greenbacks”, which became the legal tender.

Hetty Green sent her son to Texas where she had bought an old half-completed Confederate Railroad line, out of Kaufman, Texas. Here is where Gooseneck McDonald was born and raised.

Ned was known for his lavish lifestyle in Texas. Now that he was independent of his mother, he had access to large sums of cash that he spent on the good life.

O how I remember the beautiful silver car streaming down the track. I believed we called it the Silverliner.

In Chicago Ned Green had met Mabel Harlow, a prostitute who was his first sexual experience. He moved Mabel to Texas and set himself up in hotel suites where she supplied the girls and Ned supplied the customers, the rooms, and the champagne.

His friend, Gooseneck McDonald, began buying up land in the Third Ward District of Fort Worth, and laying trolley tracks, which was the railroad’s wave of the future.

Ned Green became his mother’s son, a master at protecting her assets. Recognizing this and now in her mid-sixties, Hetty brought him back to New York to oversee her financial affairs. She tolerated his extravagant lifestyle, which included a large suite at the Waldorf-Astoria (the original, built by the Astors, which stood at 34th Street and Fifth Avenue). Later Ned moved to two townhouses on West 91st Street and Central Park, where he and Mabel lived quietly and discreetly.

After his mother’s death, Ned would marry Mabel (with a pre-nup giving her $1500 a month for life). He spent his multimillion dollar annual income on luxurious estates in Florida, New York, and Massachusetts, and kept a coterie of “protégées” or “private secretaries” – pretty young teen-age girls who were given $100,000 trust funds and schooled to attend Wellesley (while visiting Ned and Mabel on weekends at the big house overlooking the water in Dartmouth, Massachusetts).

[Inquiries in the writing, please contact Eddie Griffin at]

Monday, July 7, 2008

To My Black Republican Friends:

Why Vote for Barack Obama

From: Eddie Griffin

Consider the alternative: John McCain. If that ain’t enough to make you think twice, you need to go back, and examine some core values. Why are you here to begin with, as a black Republican... a role model for whom?

Some black Republicans are cranking up the pressure on other black Republicans to take a second look at Senate Barack Obama, in comparison to Senator John McCain. It is the War in Iraq that differs McCain from black Republicans, and by his war hawkish inclinations and antagonistic angry demeanor.

Recent comments by well-known black Republicans J.C. Watts and Armstrong Williams that they’re conflicted about the upcoming presidential elections and are contemplating voting for Barack Obama have sent shock waves through the Republican Party. (“Why black Republicans support Obama”, Black Politics on the Web)

We, members of Republicans for Black Empowerment, recognize the historical context of the times we live in and take pride in Senator Barack Obama conquering this nation’s most enduring racial barriers to become the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee for President of the United States of America... Senator Obama’s nomination confirms how far the nation has traveled toward fulfilling its Constitutional premise that all men are created equal and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s vision of racial equality. (“Republicans for Black Empowerment Salute Senator Barack Obama on Historic Triumph”, Black Politics on the Web)

The 2008 Democratic National Convention is scheduled for August 25-28 in Denver, Colorado. It will be a moment in history, when an African-American is nominated to be the next President of the United States.

On the closing night of the ceremonies, Thursday, August 28, 2008, Barack Obama will lead a Democratic Party rally, the size of Invesco Field, home of the Denver Broncos football team, with a seating capacity of more than 76,000.

Whether by coincidence or whether by design, the day will mark the 45th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech.

By inspiration of the day, let us pray for the next President of the United States of America.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A Man among Men: General Wesley Clark

By Eddie G. Griffin

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

If this election was won on the basis of the biggest cry baby, consider Senator John McCain’s reaction to an off-handed comment by General Wesley Clark on CBS Face The Nation.

Was John McCain’s honor so slighted that he would give General Clark a white glove slap in the fact?

General Wesley Clark said what he meant and meant what he said. Suck up it, McCain, and keep marching. Suck it up, Captain McCain. You’re outranked.

General Clark has won my admiration.

Let’s look at the context of this fiasco, Wednesday, July 02, 2008.

A BRIEF: What did Gen. Clark say to provoke McCain’s ire?

[Excerpts from "FACE THE NATION"]

BOB SCHIEFFER, "FACE THE NATION": Well -- well, General, maybe -- could I just interrupt you?

CLARK: Sure.

SCHIEFFER: I have to say, Barack Obama has not had any of those experiences, either, nor has he ridden in a fighter plane and gotten shot down. I mean...

CLARK: Well, I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president.


Everyone should know that one experience does not a president make. But the puppet and the puppeteer would rather use the occasion to cry foul.

John McCain, apparently sensitive about both his age and his military record, lashed back, not at General Clark but his opponent Senator Barack Obama. “I think the time has come to not just repudiate Gen. Clark, but to cut him loose,” McCain said.

WOW! How extreme! How can a little qualified criticism (which was not actually criticism)… how could such a small statement set of McCain’s internal nuclear reaction?

Obama’s initial reaction was that Clark’s statement was “un-artful”. But no, Barack would never questioned McCain’s patriotism or heroism. In fact, Obama lauds McCain’s service record and military service.

But does that appease the mind of a political strategist like Karl Rove:

I mean, General Clark was outrageous. It just was -- it was -- you know, this was -- this was beyond -- this was beyond the pale for General Clark to smear Senator McCain in this manner… So the question tomorrow is going to be… Are they going to stop smearing Senator McCain? Karl Rove, former Bush aide, FOX Contributor, speaking to Van Susteren

Stop Smearing Senator Mccain?

McCain appears to be manipulated by strategist Karl Rove. Their allegation is totally disingenuous. But the objective is not so much to make the allegation stick, but drive a wedge betweem Obama and Clark.

General Clark stands by his word

Retired Gen. Wesley Clark rejected suggestions he apologize Tuesday for saying John McCain's medal-winning military service does not qualify him for the White House. Elaborating, Clark said a president must have judgment, not merely courage and character.

At last a real military man stands up against all the fake whining to gain a sympathetic political edge.

WIKI Footnote

Wesley Kanne Clark (born December 23, 1944) is a retired General of the United States Army. Clark was valedictorian of his class at West Point, was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to the University of Oxford where he obtained a degree in PPE (Philosophy, Politics & Economics), and later graduated from the Command and General Staff College with a master's degree in military science. He spent 34 years in the Army and the Department of Defense, receiving many military decorations, several honorary knighthoods, and a Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Clark commanded Operation Allied Force in the Kosovo War during his term as the Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO from 1997 to 2000.

Now compare John McCain’s bio. Which is more qualified?

Eddie Griffin’s Commentary

General Wesley Clark is a military hero in his own right, so how can Senator John McCain “repudiate him” and “cut him off”. Imagine a captain repudiating a general. How insulting, like a white glove slap in the face.

Now here is a man more qualified to be president making a simple qualified statement, and McCain and Rove take it and run out in left field with it.

Post Note

"I think that you can always cite a candidate's service in the armed forces as a testimony to his character and his courage. But I don't think early service justifies moving away from looking at a candidate's judgment," Clark said.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., rebutted Clark's claim by arguing that McCain's years as a prisoner of war and the mistreatment he endured made him uniquely qualified to lead the campaign in the Senate to ban the use of torture in the interrogation of detainees in the war on terror.

"I don't think that Gen. Clark had the same intent as the Swift Boat ads of four years ago. I reject that analogy," Obama said. He said McCain "deserves the utmost honor and respect for his service to our country."

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Over 100,000 Ex-Offenders Restored Voter Rights in Florida

Put this in the Good News - Bad News column...

By Eddie Griffin

New Florida Rules Return More Than 115,000 Ex-Offenders to Voting Rolls by Damien Cave and Christine Jordan Sexton, The New York Times

The report states: “Gov. Charlie Crist announced on Tuesday that 115,232 Florida felons had regained their voting rights since new rules took effect last April”...

Once somebody has truly paid their debt to society, we should recognize it, and we should honor it and we should welcome them back into society and give them that second chance," Mr. Crist told a crowd of law enforcement officials and advocates for prisoners' rights in Tallahassee...

"That could make an enormous difference in November," he said.

[Read the Rest of the Story]

Eddie Griffin Commentary

In an election year where every vote counts, 115,000 ex-offenders in Florida represent a significant number of new voters. Their impact at the poll can swing the state from red to blue in November.

But what the governor gives with one hand, the state holds back with the other. According to the report, some 80% of the state's disenfranchised ex-offenders remain off the voting rolls in the state.


The ban on voting by felons became part of the state Constitution in 1868, when many Southern states found ways to suppress black votes in the wake of the Civil War. Since only men were allowed to vote, many black men were systematically charged with false charges or Jim Crow offenses, imprisoned, and liberty and rights stripped away.


Restoring the right to vote to ex-offenders is part of a long and endless “Redemption, Restoration, and Reparation Movement”. Although, however, the enfranchisement of a 115,000 ex-offenders may signify a civil rights victory of some great proportion. The greater proposition would be to enfranchise the other 80% and erase one of the last true vestiges of slavery.