WASHINGTON (FinalCall.com) – A 10-day rash of racist crimes and Ku Klux Klan propaganda including nooses and racial torture spread over the National Capital area in mid-September, from Washington, to Prince Georges County, Md., even to a Maryland state prison, and to Virginia and West Virginia.
The bloodiest incident took place in a ramshackle trailer, deep in the rural hills of West Virginia, where for at least a week, a young Black woman was held captive, forced to eat animal waste, stabbed, choked and repeatedly sexually abused–all while being peppered with a racial slur.
Six people, all White, including a mother and son and a mother and daughter, were arrested in the suspected attack on 20-year-old Megan Williams, whose injuries included four stab wounds in the leg, and black and blue eyes. Her right arm was in a cast.
“I don’t understand a human being doing another human being the way they did my daughter,” Carmen Williams said from the Charleston Area Medical Center, according to AP. “I didn’t know there were people like that out here.”
The woman was forced to eat rat and dog waste and drink from a toilet, according to the criminal complaint filed in magistrate court based on what the suspects told deputies. She also had been choked with a cord, it alleges. Deputies say the woman was also doused with hot water while being sexually assaulted.
At the University of Maryland in College Park, the administration reacted quickly to assure its community that they were devoting the utmost seriousness to the investigation of a noose found near the Nyumburu Cultural Center, home of the African American Faculty and Staff Association, and the Black Explosion newspaper.
“The University of Maryland will not tolerate discrimination, harassment or acts of hate,” University President Dr. C.D. Mote told a student “Speak-Out” Sept. 11.
“Our programming, which deals with progressive musical contributions of African Americans and people of the African Diaspora, in terms of whoever did this heinous act, it’s not going to stop us. We’ve been around too long. Our legacy is too strong, and our message is just too clear for us to step aside and let something like this deter us from moving on with our strong vision and mission,” Dr. Ronald Zeigler, Director of the Nyumburu Cultural Center told The Final Call.
But elsewhere in the state, in Westover, Md, a monthly newsletter published by a White supremacist group has sparked a controversy at the Eastern Correctional Institution, where the warden tried to ban the publication after an issue was sent to an inmate that included a cartoon of a Black woman drawn to resemble an ape. A White man in a suit makes a racist remark about her hair.
The publication, known as All the Way, is produced by the Nationalist Movement, based in Learned, Miss., and is edited by attorney Richard Barrett.
A spokeswoman for the Department Correctional Services said warden Kathleen Green banned All the Way out of concern for inmate safety. The Eastern Correctional Institution is Maryland’s largest prison, and about three-quarters of its roughly 3,100 inmates are Black.
Meanwhile, some Manassas, Va. residents complained that their neighborhood had become the target of the Ku Klux Klan, which left flyers some described as hateful. Several homeowners said they discovered flyers on their driveways which were apparently distributed along a 10-block stretch, according to broadcast reports. The flyer claimed to outline the history of the Ku Klux Klan.
Thousands of flyers were distributed over the weekend in Virginia, Washington, D.C. and West Virginia. Those messages listed a Compton, Arkansas address, where the person describing himself as the national membership director said in a statement read over the phone: “We had people in that area of Virginia; they see the problems and they’re looking for solutions.”
The membership director said someone in the area asked the Ku Klux Klan to distribute the flyers. Racial tensions have risen in the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington over undocumented immigrant workers and local law enforcement of national immigration statutes.
The backdrop for all these incidents was a spirited rally Sept. 6 at Howard University’s Cramton Auditorium. Nearly 2,000 students from predominantly Black Howard, Morgan State, and Bowie State Universities turned out to support the Jena Six, six high school students charged with beating a White student during a racially tense season which began with White students hanging three nooses at a tree where three Black students sat.
The Howard University rally was just five days after the Ku Klux Klan literature appeared in the area, and one day before the noose was found at the University of Maryland’s Nyumburu Cultural Center.
The Klan leafleting also drew public scorn in Manassas, Va.
“Today is not about immigration. It is about taking a stand against hate and intolerance,” said a Democratic candidate for a State Delegate’s seat told a rally according to a published report. “And it is about sending a message that the Klan is not welcome here.”
But Ricardo Juarez, a representative from Mexicanos sin Fronteras (Mexicans Without Borders), complained in a statement that Prince William County, Va.’s recently adopted resolution aimed at denying county services to undocumented immigrants helped “to create a hostile environment for people of color” and “opened the door to racist organizations that shared their goals.”