Why are black bloggers, the afrospear, the afrosphere, black news outlets, black media, Lawyers Committee on Civil Rights, Progressive White Bloggers, Black Journalist, Black Investigative Reporters, Old School Civil Rights Icons, Black Activist, The National office of the NAACP and yes, major news outlets not talking about or investigating the death of Billey Joe Johnson, Jr.?
Billy Joe Johnson - A Foul Play? The Killing of Billy Joe Johnson in Mississippi
UPDATE: The Killing of Billey Joe Johnson in Mississippi
You remember the story about Billy Joe Johnson, star running back for George County High, Mississippi, who died on a December morning in deep Mississippi alleged by a "self-inflicted" gunshot wound during a traffic stop.
As reported by NCAA Foot Ball Fan House Billy Joe Johnson was considered one of the top high school football recruits in Mississippi, as well as the country, until his shocking death early Monday morning.
Johnson, hailing from Jackson, Miss., rushed for more than 1,500 yards his last season, totaling over 4,000 for his career, and received scholarship offers from a number of major schools including Alabama, LSU and Mississippi as a top-rated recruit by both Scout and Rivals.
Johnson died of a (possibly self-inflicted) gun wound early Monday after being pulled by a sheriff's deputy. (UPDATE: The NCAAP, in an independent investigation, has ruled out suicide as the cause of death.)
It's not clear why 17-year-old Billey Joe Johnson was stopped in Lucedale, but authorities say the junior tailback shot himself with a shotgun after the deputy walked back to the patrol car to run a license check.The last portion of that quote is particularly perplexing, because it is hard to believe that Johnson would have attempted to pull a shotgun on police officers ...although equally confounding is the notion that Johnson would kill himself at what, according to all current reports, appears to be a basic traffic stop.
Nothing is ever certain, but this story appears to be so odd, at least in the manner of death, that it would be even more shocking if further details didn't at least emerge as to why the young man apparently panicked and pulled a gun that resulted in the tragic and early end to his life. More MORE
Many in the black community suspect foul play.
Billey Joe Johnson Sr. has a difficult time accepting the police department’s explanation of his son’s death. “They must have tortured my baby,” he says.
(Dan Wetzel/Yahoo! Sports)
As reported by yahoo sports local authorities stopped Billey Joe for a traffic violation on the morning of Dec. 8, and they say the truck is simply the site of a terrible tragedy. But to the elder Johnson, it’s a crime scene. Nearly two months later, only one fact is certain: Instead of running out of George County as a football hero, Billey Joe was buried beneath it at the age of 17.
The George County Sheriff’s Department claims that on that fateful morning, Billey Joe attempted to break into the home of an on-again, off-again girlfriend in the nearby city of Lucedale. According to the sheriff’s department, he left the scene and ran a red light at 5:34 a.m. After a 1½-mile pursuit, Billey Joe got out of his truck, met sheriff’s deputy Joe Sullivan and handed over his license. Then Billey Joe returned to his truck, put a 12-gauge shotgun he used to target deer to his head and committed suicide. It was 5:40 a.m.
Sullivan’s patrol car was not equipped with a camera, and his is the only account of the event. Billey Joe’s friends and family don’t believe the story.
Billey Joe was black. Sullivan is white. The case, as such, is shrouded by race in this small community in the Deep South. Everyone wants answers. No one is getting them. The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation and the local district attorney – the two bodies in charge of the case – have issued neither a ruling nor many pertinent details.
Tony Lawrence, the district attorney running the state’s investigation, met with the family Dec. 19 and urged patience.
“I have said from the beginning that this investigation will be exhaustive and not based on any timeline other than that which leads to the truth,” Lawrence said at the time. His office declined further comment this week.
With no answers and a state investigation that is dragging on, the region has descended into a cauldron of speculation, suspicion and conspiracy. Theories are easy to find, the truth all but impossible.
Johnson fixates on the truck that is stained with what is left of his son. The day after the incident, police returned it to the family as is. Rather than wash it, junk it or sell it, Johnson keeps it in a garage, driving it out to re-examine. He stares at it. He imagines his son.
He’s convinced someone forced Billey Joe on his knees, shoved the shotgun barrel in his mouth and pulled the trigger.
“They must’ve tortured my baby,” Johnson says.
Here is what the police say about Billey Joe’s death: During a routine traffic stop, Billey Joe Johnson Jr. shot himself in the head.
Billey Joe’s truck had notes from multiple female admirers, and his friends said he enjoyed the attention offered to a star athlete. He’d already run for 4,000 yards in his high school career and helped make George County a state powerhouse. Everyone knew him. Many wanted to be with him.
One girl, whom Yahoo! Sports will not name since she is a minor, had been around the longest. It was a typical high school relationship – “they’d break up every day and then get back together,” said one of his friends, Drew Bradley. The fact that she was white bothered some people.
“It’s George County, it’s a little Southern town,” said Bradley, who is white. “You’ve got a bunch of racist people down here. You have people who hated on them because it was black and white.”
The alleged timeline of events on Monday, Dec. 8, 2008, leading up to the death of Billey Joe Johnson:
UPDATE: Get this, A grand jury has ruled that his death was accidental. Many in the black community, including this AAPP still suspect foul play. What do you think?AAP: That was then, thisis now: FAST FORWARD TO TODAY, Family members rallied hoping to encourage witnesses to come forward with evidence and testimony. Billey Joe Johnson, Jr. was the highly recruited football star from Benndale, MS who was mysteriously killed during a traffic stop with a George County Sheriff’s deputy on December 8, 2008. Even after independent investigations raised serious questions about the plausibility of Johnson’s wounds being self-inflicted, the local justice system ruled this incident an accident and charges have yet to be brought. READ MORE HERE
Community members are renewing their efforts because Johnson’s death and subsequent investigations leave more questions than answers. Given the long history of corruption and cover-ups in George County law enforcement, many community members feel law enforcement and the District Attorney’s office colluded to execute a wide spread cover-up. Community members also point to what they call a pattern of racial profiling and the use of fear and intimidation on behalf of law enforcement. “Law enforcement’s investigation left a lot of holes and many of us believe there was foul play. Because of the amount of discrimination we experience every day, we have little faith in the local justice system,” said Mr. Bobby Perryman of Immaculate Heart Community Development Corporation.
Johnson’s family calls on the Lucedale community to come forward with information about the case and believe many have stayed quiet for fear of retribution or being shunned by friends and family members. “Nobody wants to tell on their neighbor, but the fact is that a young man was killed and his family and this community need closure,” said Pastor Garrett of Prince Garrett Ministries. George County is a very small community and is still very segregated. A few large families and their extended networks own most of the businesses and play influential roles in city and county government. George County, where the incident occurred, is 89% white with very few Black residents. “We know there are good folks in George County who have knowledge about the incident. We know you are afraid but we need you to come forward. Black or white - none of us are free when there is a suspicion of murder,” Garrett added.
“We are tired of the corruption, the cover-ups and the abuse we suffer at the hands of police,” said Ms. Lucy Wilson, President of the Human Rights Taskforce of George County. The Human Rights Taskforce is one of key local organizations calling for the event. It was established as a result of the travesty of justice felt by many around the Johnson case as well as growing tensions between the Black community and law enforcement. The event is co- sponsored by George County Human Rights Taskforce, Immaculate Heart Community Development Corporation, George County NAACP, and American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi.
Caravans of concerned citizens traveled from Atlanta, Jackson, Mobile and New Orleans. Speakers at the event include Ms. Nsombi Lambright, Executive Director of the ACLU-MS, Ms. Lucy Wilson, President of the George County Human Rights Taskforce and a spokesperson for Billey Joe Johnson, Jr.’s family.
AAP says: I'm glad the family is taking a stand. Don't you think it's time America did? It's time for the Justice Department to get involved. That's my thought. Write the U.S. Attorney General and President Barack Obama, and let them both know how you feel.
This gruesome photo of Emmett Till helped spark the civil rights movement. It demonstrated the brutality of southern violence towards African-Americans, and created outrage across the nation. Emmett's mother, Mamie, insisted at his funeral that he be given an open-casket, so others could see what they had done to her boy.
Courtesy of the Chicago Defender