Quantcast
Connect with us

Unarmed black protesters were ‘forcibly removed’ and jailed after they tried to occupy a wildlife refuge in 1979

Published

on

After a group of armed militants seized an Oregon nature preserve earlier this month, many wondered: What would have happened if they were black?

It’s impossible to know for sure, of course, but there is a somewhat recent historical precedent that offers some clues, reported The Oregonian.

In 1979, 40 members of People Organized for Equal Rights set up camp on a federal nature preserve south of Savannah, Georgia — where their ancestors had lived for generations.

ADVERTISEMENT

A white plantation owner had deeded the land to a former slave after the Civil War, and other freed slaves and their descendant moved to the area — known as Harris Neck — to live, work, fish and farm for decades.

That all came to an abrupt end in 1942, when the U.S. military took over Harris Neck through eminent domain and gave residents three weeks to leave.

Black landowners were paid significantly less for their land than white landowners in the area, the newspaper reported, and the government destroyed the houses, factories and farms they had built.

The government abandoned the airbase it built in their community after World War II, and the land was eventually converted into the Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge.

ADVERTISEMENT

In 1972, 26 families who are direct descendants of the original inhabitants organized to reclaim the land — and they staged a “camp-in” seven years later to force the government to recognize their cause.

The unarmed protesters set up a camp at the nature preserve, and they asked for $50 million in reparations to rebuild the churches, schools, businesses and homes that were bulldozed by the government almost 40 years earlier.

By contrast, the armed militants have occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, demanding the transfer of federal land to the control of an extralegal county government they created and the release of two ranchers convicted of arson — who asked the militiamen to leave before they voluntarily reported to prison.

ADVERTISEMENT

For nearly two weeks now, the out-of-state militants with few ties to eastern Oregon have given news conferences, issued demands and threatened violent confrontations with authorities.

But that’s not what happened nearly 37 years ago in Georgia.

Federal authorities secured a court order to remove the “squatters” one day after they set up camp at Harris Neck — but four of the unarmed protesters refused to leave.

ADVERTISEMENT

They were “forcibly removed” May 2, 1979 — just three days after they arrived on the land where their parents and grandparents had farmed, hunted and fished.

The four men were each sentenced to a month in jail for trespassing, and courts have ruled that the land belongs to the U.S. government — and not to the slaves’ descendants.

The 1979 incident has largely been forgotten, and isn’t even mentioned on the wildlife refuge’s Wikipedia page.

ADVERTISEMENT

But the descendants of Harris Neck’s residents are still trying to rebuild that community.

Watch this video about Harris Neck posted online by evedesigns:


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

South Carolina woman who told cops they can’t arrest a ‘white, clean girl’ pleaded guilty to DUI: report

Published

on

Last year, 34-year-old Lauren Cutshaw of South Carolina was arrested in Bluffton after running a four-way stop sign at 60 miles an hour. Her blood alcohol level was registered at 0.18 — more than double the legal limit — and she admitted to being high and had marijuana paraphernalia in her car.

According to police reports at the time, Cutshaw offered an unusual defense of her behavior to the arresting officer: she shouldn't go to jail because she's a "thoroughbred ... white, clean girl" who was a cheerleader and sorority sister who graduated with "perfect grades" from a "high accredited university."

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Republicans are getting nervous about Trump’s chances in Wisconsin: ‘There’s no way he’s gaining supporters’

Published

on

President Donald Trump's election chances, once again, will likely hinge on Wisconsin's suburbs -- but he can't expect a "free ride."

Hillary Clinton infamously lost the crucial state after failing to campaign there in the waning days before the 2016 election, but some GOP voters there are souring on the president, reported Politico.

“For the president to win Wisconsin again, he’s not going to have the free ride he had last time,” said Brandon Scholz, former executive director of the Wisconsin Republican Party. "He’s not going to have Hillary Clinton sitting on her hands “He’s going to have a completely engaged opposition party on the ground.”

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Covering up the corruption: GOP tries to block new Mike Pence investigation

Published

on

Vice President Mike Pence's trip to Ireland — or more precisely his curious stay at one of President Trump’s hotels — has prompted multiple congressional probes. But the Democrat-led oversight investigations have already drawn complaints and pushback from Trump’s loudest Republican defenders on Capitol Hill, including the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee.

Democrats in both the House of Representatives and Senate have sent official letters of inquiry to the vice president’s office seeking specific information on the costs of Pence's recent stay at Trump International Golf Club in Doonbeg, Ireland. They have imposed a Sept. 19 deadline for the administration and the Trump Organization to turn over relevant documents. Democrats have raised concerns that Pence’s stay at Trump’s resort could have violated the emoluments clause in the Constitution. They’ve asked for details like the cost of the stay, Secret Service protection, and comparable rates for hotels nearby as well as across the country in Dublin, where Pence held meetings with Irish officials and business leaders.

Continue Reading
 
 
Help Raw Story Uncover Injustice. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1. Go ad-free.
close-image