Thursday, September 27, 2007

Jail death protest in Fountain Inn

Graphic from

Yes, I'll be there.

Jail death protest in Fountain Inn
New Beginning Missionary Baptist Church in Laurens County leading protest

By Nathaniel Cary
STAFF WRITER, Greenville News
Updated: Thursday, September 27, 2007 - 11:38 am

A local human rights group plans to protest outside of Fountain Inn's Police Department tonight.

The group, Schimuranga, led by Rev. David Kennedy, will hold a demonstration in connection with the death of a black Fountain Inn man at the Fountain Inn jail July 29.

The protest is the latest in a string of demonstrations over the death of Richard Javis Johnson, 25, who died at the jail when he was found hanged by his long sleeved T-shirt 30-40 minutes after he was booked on a crack cocaine charge.

Johnson's family members said they didn't think he would have hanged himself, and the Rev. Jesse Jackson toured the jail last week and said he'd seen photos that looked like Johnson had been beaten to death.

Fountain Inn police have declined to discuss specifics of the case, but said they will be cleared of any wrongdoing after the investigation. The State Law Enforcement Division is investigating and has said it won't release details for up to five more months.

The demonstration will be held 6-8 p.m. in downtown Fountain Inn, said Councilwoman Wanza Bates.

Schimuranga, a group started out of Kennedy's church, New Beginning Missionary Baptist Church in Laurens County, was organized to protest injustice to the black community, Kennedy said.

"We are holding this demonstration to expose institutionalized racism in the city of Fountain Inn," Kennedy said
And before anyone criticizes Jesse for ambulance-chasing, being a glory-hound, etc, it's important to add that he is FROM GREENVILLE and comes to South Carolina frequently to visit his mother and extended family.

And a good thing, too:

Jesse Jackson Comments On Inmate's Death

UPDATED: 9:03 am EDT September 18, 2007
FOUNTAIN INN, S.C. -- Rev. Jesse Jackson was in the Upstate Monday, and commented on a controversy over the death of an inmate found hanged in his cell.

Jackson and members of the Rainbow Push Coalition toured the Fountain Inn jail this morning. The visit comes after the hanging death of inmate Richard Johnson in July. Officials have said that Johnson hanged himself, but some family members and supporters have said that officers were responsible for his death.

After Monday's tour, Jackson told reporters that he thinks that the dimensions of the cell would not make it possible for Johnson to hang himself.

Johnson's mother, Anita Johnson, said that the coroner's officer refused to let her see her son's body.

"I was denied to see his body at the hospital," Johnson said. "The hospital said I couldn't see him, the coroner said I couldn't see him, and the Fountain Inn Police Department said me and my family could not see my son."

Fountain Inn Police Chief Keith Morton said that he and other officers tried to call Johnson after her son's death, but could not reach her. Morton said they also drove around to different places trying to track her down. By the time they were able to reach her, they said Johnson's body had been turned over to the coroner.

Greenville County Deputy Coroner Ken Coppins said, "....because it was an in-custody death, our protocol was to seal the body bag and nobody opens it until autopsy so that evidence that needs to be collected is collected that morning at autopsy."

Coppins said that he gave his number to Anita Johnson, but because she did not have a phone, she called three times but never left a number.

Less than 24 hours after Johnson's death, his body was turned over to the Fletcher Mortuary in Fountain Inn. Coppins said he can't explain why Anita Johnson then waited until three days later to see her son there.

Jackson said, "You need to see for yourself to see how impossible it would have been to tie something around your neck and drop three inches and be suicide."

He said it appeared to him that Johnson was beaten to death, based on markings on the body. But the coroner's officer said it is common for doctors to remove pieces of skin during the autopsy.

Morton said, "Mr. Jackson is welcome to his opinion, but once again, all the information was collected by independent agencies and they'll make the determination on the cause of death."

City Official Solicits Complaints From Citizens

City Councilwoman Wanza Bates is soliciting complaints from the citizens of Fountain Inn regarding the police and is passing them on to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.

Bates said. "People feel that they're being inappropriately treated and we need to do something about that. The city of Fountain Inn needs to do something about that."

She said, "I'm hoping that we have the appropriate policies, regulations, procedures in the city of Fountain Inn so that citizens feel safe so that when a police officer stops them, that they are appropriately stopping them, that they are not harassing them, that they are not physically abusing them. These are the natures of the stories I've been told."

News 4 has learned that SLED confirms receiving something of this nature, but there is no official investigation.

Later Monday, Jackson went to Clemson, encouraging people to register to vote. Jackson was in Simpsonville on Sunday night pushing the vote.

He and the Rainbow Push Coalition visited Bethlehem Baptist Church as part of Jackson's 12-city voter education tour across the state.
The Greenville NAACP is also investigating the death of Richard Javis 'Jabo' Johnson while in police custody in Fountain Inn.


DaisyDeadhead said...

Update: Coverage of the rally

As you can see, almost developed into a confrontation, but the DoJ people's presence seemed to calm everyone down.

Very intense. I counted 5 white people, and Rev. Kennedy specifically thanked the white people for coming out to support the families. ((((tearful)))

The counter-demonstrators were all white, and that was embarrassing to me.

DaisyDeadhead said...

WELCOME to those coming over from the ERASE RACISM Blog Carnival! Here is a follow-up piece with a few more details, but still no more questions answered.

Anonymous said...

How many people have to die before "someone" realizes there is a problem in this town? I mean Fountain Inn.