Friday, January 05, 2007

Hate-Based Initiative

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Gerald "Wash" Washington, 57, was about to make history by breaking down racial walls and southern political stigmas. On Tuesday, January 2, Washington was to begin his term as the first black mayor of Westlake, Louisiana. Saturday – three days prior to his term, his dead body was found near his truck in a high school parking lot. There was no suicide note, and no motive found.

Westlake Sheriff, Tony Mancuso and his team ‘evaluated’ the scene quickly and delivered the body to the parish coroner, Dr. Terry Welke, who hastily determined that the death was a suicide based on the evaluation that Washington was shot once and the gun barrel had been "pressed tight to his skin" — something which sometimes occurs in suicides. There was no suicide note, and no motive found.

For several weeks following the election, Washington received hate mail from the city’s white residents. The city of Westlake has an estimated population of 4500, nearly 85% of which is white. Blacks and Hispanics make up the remaining 15 percent. Washington would have been the community’s first black leader, and the first new mayor in 24 years.

Headlines from AP and other worldwide publications transitioned from the original, “First black man elected mayor is found shot to death in Louisiana town” to “La. Mayor-Elect's Death Ruled Suicide” then “Late mayor-elect's children say investigation ‘sloppy’” to the current “State Police Probe Mayor's Alleged Suicide” which reads:

It's now the job of state police in Louisiana to find out what happened to the man who was about to become the first black mayor of the town of Westlake.

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I was under the impression that every death should be originally run as a homicide, until nothing of the sort could be suspected or proven. However, Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso and his team did not investigate beyond a shadow of a doubt, in fact the investigation was nearly nonexistent. There was no suicide note, and no motive found.

According to Washington’s daughter, her father's pickup truck was given back to the family just a few hours after his body was found. She told reporters that deputies did not take fingerprints from the truck, check ballistics on the gun found near her father's body or complete an ownership check of the gun, which – to myself - would seem to be protocol in determining whether a case was homicide or suicide. Especially if there was no suicide note, and no motive found.

Washington’s son had also shared his thoughts with reporters: "Calcasieu Parish is known to be racist. There were lots of folks who didn't want my father to become the mayor. My dad was popular, but you have to understand, he was popular so long as he wasn't running the city. Once he won the election, now that an African-American was going to be running the city, that's where the problem came in."

I risk the persecution that accompanies discussing these topics openly when I ask: Does the fact that Washington was attempting to break down racial barriers in a predominately white southern parish not stand as a viable ‘motive’? The sloppy police work and recklessly incomplete investigation should raise a flag, or at least a few eyebrows. There was no suicide note, but there was hate mail. I believe a motive has been found for homicide: racism.

View a current article here.

In other bizarre Louisiana news, was it the ferret or the pit bull that gnawed off the baby’s toes? The parents don’t know either.

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do you see a baby toe resemblance?

No need to waste your days in worry about decades of continued troubles from Louisiana. I heard rumor that it’s sinking.

As a final disclaimer, I would like to apologize to my best friend LJ for the origin of this content. She’s the best thing to come out of Louisiana since the birth of New Orleans jazz.


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