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marble falls

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Was Sandra Bland Dead Before Her Mugshot Was Taken?

Donald Trump & white America’s anxiety: The political throes of a forgotten country

Donald Trump & white America’s anxiety: The political throes of a forgotten country

Liberals, don't kid yourselves: "The Donald" is not just a media creation. He's a tribune of our past — and future
Elias Isquith Follow

The New York Times’ Charles Blow is a fine columnist. But if you want to understand why Donald Trump has become the mad king of American politics, the thundering attack on “The Donald” that Blow wrote last week, entitled “Enough Is Enough,” could hardly serve you worse.

The basic theory of Blow’s column, which soon went viral, is that the Trump campaign is a “shallow farce,” sustained by a “drooling” and “naïve” media. “Yes, the Republican Party created this Frankenstein of hatred, hubris, narcissism and nativism,” Blow grants, “but the media is giving it life.” He’s not alone in this conviction: Political scientist John Sides maintains that Trump is fundamentally no different from other short-lived bizarro presidential candidates, such as Newt Gingrich or Michele Bachmann.

Well, sorry not sorry, but this is all wrong. Donald Trump is not running a Potemkin presidential campaign. He is not simply the beneficiary of a restless and vapid press corps. He is not the Herman Cain of 2016. He is not some carnivalesque distraction, seducing us into avoiding “the real issues.” Ignoring him, as Blow has vowed to do, may be good for one’s blood pressure. But as a recent in-depth look at Trump’s support from the New York Times found, no amount of wishful thinking will make him disappear.


Although their complaints are often unsympathetic and their solutions are frequently barbarous, they are not exactly wrong. Republicans are, on the whole, older and whiter than Democrats. They’re also more religious, more discriminatory in their sexual mores (or at least their professed ones) and more likely to live in rural areas. For the vast majority of their lives, the American mainstream has been white, Christian and at least suburban, if not rural.


Like Long and Wallace before him, what Trump offers these people is not only a return to a glorious past, but also a reassurance. Specifically, Trump’s vision of a nation purged of immigrants — both documented and otherwise — and cleansed of “political correctness” suggests to these voters that America-as-they-knew-it is not historically contingent. And that the transformation of the country was not an inevitability. He promises them, in effect, that they will not be so easily swept aside.

These are forces decades in the making. But there’s no doubt that nearly seven years of an African-American president — one named Barack Hussein Obama, no less — has had an impact. In the America they knew, an African-American does not become president, full stop. But he certainly doesn’t do it if he’s an intellectual cosmopolitan who does not hide his affection for LGBTQ people or his fundamental belief in the welfare state. And he is not reelected after using big government to help moochers.


Elias Isquith is a staff writer at Salon, focusing on politics. Follow him on Twitter at @eliasisquith.

Posted by marble falls | Tue Sep 1, 2015, 09:23 AM (1 replies)

Bernie Sander's Brother on British TV talking about Bernie's Run

Posted by marble falls | Tue Sep 1, 2015, 08:17 AM (4 replies)

NRA to Alison Parker's family: Don't be 'so emotional'

NRA to Alison Parker's family: Don't be 'so emotional'

August 31, 2015 3:24 PM MST

The NRA and their spokesman Colion Noir are telling the parents of slain journalist Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward to stop being "so emotional" when fighting for gun control.

After journalist Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward were murdered on live TV last week, the entire country mourned their deaths. Parker's father, Andy Parker, has been an outspoken advocate for gun control since his daughter's death, but the National Rifle Association (NRA) thinks he should just calm down.

The family of slain journalist Alison Parker is pleading for stricter gun laws following the murder of their daughter.

Just in their mid-twenties, Parker and Ward were living their dream of delivering the news to their viewers. That dream quickly turned into a nightmare at the hands of former network employee Vester Flanagan, otherwise known as Bryce Williams. After pleas for stricter action on gun control by the Parker family, the NRA released a video on August 31, with spokesman Colion Noir telling the Parker and Ward family to stop letting their emotions cloud their judgement.

“Grief-inspired advocacy can be extremely effective and powerful,” Noir said, saying he understands he has "no right" telling them how to grieve, but hopes they understand who the real enemies are. "Sometimes in a fight we can become so emotional everyone and thing starts looking like the enemy, even if they’re there to help us."

"Turning this murder into a gun control dog-and-pony show minutes after the shooting because you can’t make sense of what just happened is ridiculous."

Noir then went on to attack President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, referring to them as the "gun control Wu-Tang Clan" who are using average American "ignorance" to win votes. The United States currently has the highest rate of gun related deaths compared to any other industrialized country in the world. While stricter gun control might not stop every mass shooting, it's a positive step in the right direction regardless of what some at the NRA might be preaching.

To me this less about gun control than it is about a total lack of sensitivity.

I own firearms and the NRA does not speak for me.
Posted by marble falls | Tue Sep 1, 2015, 12:53 AM (9 replies)

Were officials too quick to tie Texas deputy shooting to Black Lives Matter?

Were officials too quick to tie Texas deputy shooting to Black Lives Matter?
Law enforcement officials have arrested and charged a man in the shooting of a Houston deputy. The motive remains unclear.
Christian Science Monitor By Jessica Mendoza
21 hours ago

Law enforcement officials on Saturday arrested Shannon J. Miles, of Cypress, and charged him with capital murder in the fatal, “execution-style” shooting of Harris County deputy Darren H. Goforth, NBC News reports. Deputy Goforth was filling up his patrol car at a Houston Chevron gas station when the gunman approached from behind, opened fire, and fired again as Goforth lay on the ground, according to Reuters.

While the motive behind the shooting remains unclear, officials were quick to link the incident to Black Lives Matter, the series of demonstrations against police misconduct. Goforth was white, Mr. Miles is black.

"We've heard black lives matter; all lives matter. Well cops' lives matter too," County Sheriff Ron Hickman said at a news conference following the arrest. "At any point where the rhetoric ramps up to the point where calculated cold-blooded assassination of police officers happen, this rhetoric has gotten out of control.”

Authorities took Miles in for questioning early Saturday, after deputies found the shooter’s suspected vehicle – a red, extended-cab pickup truck – parked in Miles’ driveway less than a mile away from the scene, The Houston Chronicle reports.

Miles, who has not identified any motive for the shooting, has previously been convicted of resisting arrest, trespassing, and disorderly conduct with a firearm, according to CNN.

Harris County district attorney Devon Anderson, who appeared with Sheriff Hickman, also pushed back against widespread criticism of police. “There are a few bad apples in every profession,” she said. “That does not mean that there should be open warfare declared on law enforcement.”

Despite ongoing efforts to improve relations between law enforcement and black communities across the nation, tensions remain high between police and the public. From Ferguson, Mo. to New York City, high-profile, violent confrontations between officers and unarmed black men and women continue to be the focus of calls for sweeping police reform.

In Texas, State Representative Garnet F. Coleman (D) of Houston criticized Hickman’s remarks.

“It strikes me as politicizing a death that, I don’t know that anyone knows what was in the mind of the shooter,” said Rep. Coleman, who is leading an inquiry into the death of Sandra Bland, an African-American woman found dead in a Waller County jail cell in July, according to the Times.

“I think black lives matter,” he continued. “I think deputy sheriffs’ lives matter. But I think the statement shows a lack of understanding of what is occurring in this country when it comes to the singling out of African-Americans.”

At least one of the movement’s leaders has also criticized Sheriff Hickman’s comments as misguided.

“It is sad that some have chosen to politicize this tragedy by falsely attributing the officer's death to a movement seeking to end violence,” civil rights activist DeRay McKesson tweeted.

Still, the shooting – which shocked the suspect’s neighbors as well as Harris County, the most populous in Texas – could be an opportunity for the community to come together. On Saturday night, hundreds attended a vigil for Goforth, who leaves behind a wife and two children and whom colleagues described as a passionate officer and a family man.

"We need a lot of healing rather than anger," Houston police Lt. Roland De Los Santos, who met Goforth decades ago, told KPRC Houston. "We need for the community to understand that most of us are out here to help. We really are out here to do good."

#BlackLivesMatter disrupts Clinton rally to demand she cut ties with prison industrial complex David

#BlackLivesMatter disrupts Clinton rally to demand she cut ties with prison industrial complex
David Ferguson
David Ferguson
27 Aug 2015 at 17:06 ET

Image: #BlackLivesMatter activists disrupt a Hillary Clinton rally in Cleveland, OH (GetEQUAL)


Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton’s rally in Cleveland, Ohio on Thursday was interrupted by #BlackLivesMatter protesters who called on the candidate to acknowledge the recent deaths of multiple trans women of color.

According to Fusion, BLM staged the protest in conjunction with the GetEQUAL campaign — a grassroots LGBT rights group — to also demand that the former Secretary of State, New York Democratic Senator and U.S. First Lady to “divest from private prisons and invest in the liberation of black transgender women.”

Video from today’s #BlackTransLivesMatter action calling on @HillaryClinton to divest from private prisons… pic.twitter.com/yo2RqkZLFu

— GetEQUAL (@GetEQUAL) August 27, 2015

According to a press release from the two groups, “The organizers interrupted Clinton’s speech in order to name the three black trans women who have been recently murdered in the state of Ohio including Cemia Dove, a black trans woman murdered in Cleveland.”

Angela Peoples, one of the protesters — and co-director of GetEQUAL — said, “Bankrolled by private prison companies and lobbyists like Corrections Corporation of America and the GEO Group, Hillary Clinton is part of the system of violence that criminalizes and kills Black trans people — how can we take her policy suggestions to curb mass incarceration and detention seriously while she’s accepting this money?”

As the activists disrupted her presentation, Clinton pointed to them and said, “I’ll be happy to meet with you later, but I’m going to keep talking.”

Fusion’s Jorge Rivas wrote, “At least 20 transgender women have been killed this year, 14 of them black women. In nine of those cases, Fusion found last week, charges have been filed.”

“Hillary Clinton must stand with Black people, especially Black trans women, by refusing to accept funds from or bundled by executives of or lobbyists for private prison companies — and investing the money she’s already accepted from those companies in the work toward Black trans liberation,” said GetEQUAL’s Rian Brown in a statement sent to Fusion. “Until that happens, we cannot for a moment think that Hillary believes Black Lives Matter.”

Video at article


Why Surprising Numbers of Republicans Have Been Voting for Bernie Sanders in Vermont

Why Surprising Numbers of Republicans Have Been Voting for Bernie Sanders in Vermont

If ends up being the Democratic nominee for president, his GOP opponent is going to have a very hard time beating him.
By Thom Hartmann / AlterNet
August 18, 2015


Ann Coulter knows who she wants to be the Democratic nominee for president, and who that person is, well, it may surprise you.

She wants Hillary Clinton to be the nominee, and thinks that if Bernie gets the nod, he'll beat whoever the Republicans come up with to run against him.

You won't hear me say this often, but Ann Coulter is right.

If Bernie Sanders ends up being the Democratic nominee for president, and it looks more and more every day like he will be, his Republican opponent is going to have a very hard time beating him.

And that's because of all the Democratic candidates running, Bernie Sanders has the best chance of capturing Republican votes.

I've seen how Bernie does this, up close and personal.

Despite its reputation as a place filled with liberal hippies, Vermont, like most of rural northern New England, is home to a lot of conservatives.

Anyone running for statewide office there needs to win these conservatives' votes, and Bernie is great at doing that.

Back in 2000 when Louise and I were living in Vermont, it wasn't all that uncommon to see his signs on the same lawn as signs that said "W for President."

Seriously, I'm not kidding.

And as NPR's "Morning Edition" found out last year, some of Bernie's biggest fans are in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom, the poorest and most conservative part of the state.

It's people from the Northeast Kingdom who've overwhelmingly elected Bernie to almost 20 years in Congress and two straight terms as senator, and it's people like them in the rest of the country who will probably send Bernie to the White House if he gets the Democratic nomination for president.

So why is that?

Why is Bernie Sanders, a socialist, so popular with people who should hate "socialism?"

The answer is pretty simple.

While Americans disagree on social issues like gay marriage and abortion, they're actually pretty unified on the bread and butter economic issues that Bernie has made the core of his campaign.

In fact, a recent poll by the Progressive Change Institute, shows that Americans overwhelmingly agree with Bernie on key issues like education, health care and the economy.

Like Bernie, 75 percent of Americans poll support fair trade that "protects workers, the environment and jobs."

Seventy-one percent support giving all students access to a debt-free college education.

Seventy-one percent support a massive infrastructure spending program aimed at rebuilding our broken roads and bridges, and putting people back to work.

Seventy percent support expanding Social Security.

Fifty-nine percent support raising taxes on the wealthy so that millionaires pay the same amount in taxes as they did during the Reagan administration.

Fifty-eight percent support breaking up the big banks.

Fifty-five percent support a financial transaction or Robin Hood tax.

Fifty-one percent support single payer health care, and so and so on.

Pretty impressive, right?

And here's the thing - supporting Social Security, free college, breaking up the big banks, aren't "progressive" policies, they're just common sense, and 60 years ago they would have put Bernie Sanders smack dab in the mainstream of my father's Republican Party.

This is why Ann Coulter is so scared of Bernie becoming the Democratic nominee.

She knows that he speaks to the populist, small "d" democratic values that everyday Americans care about, regardless of their political affiliation.

That's the really radical part of Bernie's 2016 campaign, and what's what maybe, just maybe, might make him the 45th President of the United States.

Thom Hartmann is an author and nationally syndicated daily talk show host. His newest book is "The Crash of 2016: The Plot to Destroy America — and What We Can Do to Stop It."

Louisiana Drug Task Force Spent 11 Months to Nail Some Teens for Pot

Louisiana Drug Task Force Spent 11 Months to Nail Some Teens for Pot

Elite drug task forces are supposed to be taking out major drug dealers. But all this Louisiana squad could find was a handful of kids.
By Matt Agorist / The Free Thought Project
August 12, 2015


Terrebonne Parish, LA — The Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Task Force, Houma Police Department, State Police Narcotics Division and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, created an elite task force whose combined efforts over an 11-month period helped to bring down one of the country’s most dangerous criminal elements.

Or so the war on drugs would like you to believe.

What actually took place was a huge waste of taxpayer money and law enforcement resources in an attempt to bust a group of kids who were suspected of selling a plant, which is legal in 5 states, to willing customers.

Below is a breakdown of the charges and the laughable and embarrassingly tiny amount of drugs the teens were carrying.

— Austin Ferrill, 19, two counts of marijuana distribution, two counts of principal to marijuana distribution, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was charged with obstruction of justice and a turn signal violation. Agents found .80 grams of marijuana, 10 capsules of synthetic MDMA and 11 hydrocodone pills in Ferrill’s bedroom. His bond is $205,000.

For less than a single gram of pot, 10 hits of ecstasy, and pills that are in half of the medicine cabinets across the country, this young man’s life is now ruined. There were no victims.

— Cameron Clement, 19, one count of marijuana distribution. His bond is $35,000.

No drugs were found on Clement, but as he was associated with the other teens, he was kidnapped and caged and his bond set at a ridiculously high amount.

— Jude Boudreaux, 19, one count of marijuana distribution. Agents found 20 grams of high-grade marijuana in his vehicle. His bond is $50,000.

As for Mr. Boudreaux, he had an entire 20 grams. This criminal dared to carry over a half ounce of a plant that is legal in 5 states, and for this “crime,” his bail was also set ridiculously high.

It should also be noted that officials refer to the marijuana as “high-grade” in an attempt to justify wasting tens of thousands of dollars in local taxpayer money to take it off the street. In the meantime, however, someone in Colorado can walk into their local dispensary and purchase this “high-grade” marijuana, show it to a cop outside, and face no consequences.

— Gage Fontana, 19, distribution and possession with intent to distribute marijuana. His bond is $60,000.

Perhaps Fontana did not have enough weed for the cops to measure as the weight of his “high-grade” marijuana wasn’t listed on the arrest report. Still, his bail was set at a staggering $60K.

— Dylan Brewer, 17, principal to marijuana. He was apprehended at 3902 Southdown Mandalay Road, and his bond is $35,000.

And lastly, is Mr. Brewer who facing down a $35,000 bail for the preposterously vague charge of “principal to marijuana.”

Thanks to the brave men and women in the various associations participating in this asinine sting operation, these “drug kingpins” have been robbed of their future opportunity for selling a product to a willing customer.

Just in the past week, we’ve seen police officers vaginally rape a woman in public in search of marijuana. We’ve seen a Memphis cop killed as he tried to arrest someone for a small amount of pot. We’ve also seen a teenager shot and killed for simply driving a female friend to get some marijuana.

Enough is enough.

There is no such thing as winning this war on drugs as its entire existence is a failure. One day humanity will look back at the innocent lives ruined and taken in the state’s immoral conquest to control our bodies and wonder how the hell we didn’t stop this madness sooner.

Do You Pay a 'Prohibition Premium' for Marijuana Where You Live?

Do You Pay a 'Prohibition Premium' for Marijuana Where You Live?


There are huge variations in pot prices depending on where you live, and what the laws are.
By Phillip Smith / AlterNet
August 11, 2015


Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com/Eldad Carin

The western US has marijuana legalization in four states—Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington—as well as legal medical marijuana in a number more, including California, with the most wide-open medical marijuana system of all.

The east, not so much. The nation's capital has personal legalization, otherwise, outside of a handful of tightly regulated medical marijuana states, that's about it.

A comparison of marijuana prices courtesy of PriceofWeed.com and the Washington Post's Wonk Blog makes evident the pot prohibition premium East Coast pot smokers are paying in comparison with their West Coast brethren. The premium is essentially a "risk tax" imposed on consumers when providers in a market increase their prices to account for the possibility of being arrested for their efforts.

There are a couple of exceptions to the general rule, which we will discuss below. In the meantime, here are pot prices per ounce reported in big cities out west:

Seattle, $212
Denver, $233
San Francisco, $272
Los Angeles, $284

And on the East Coast and the Midwest:

Miami, $250
Chicago, $300
New York, $345
Washington, DC, $350

While there is some variation among cities, the average price in the western cities is $250 an ounce, while the average price for eastern and midwestern cities is $311. That's a $61-an-ounce prohibition premium for consumers east of the Mississippi, adding roughly 25% to the price of an ounce out west.

The two anomalies that immediately jump out are Miami, where prices are surprisingly low, and Washington, DC, where prices are surprisingly high, given that it legalized small-time pot possession and cultivation last year.

DC has semi-legalized, but doesn't yet allow retail marijuana commerce, unlike the legal marijuana states, or even California, with its wide-open medical marijuana system. That could partially explain high prices there. Another explanatory factor is that, while DC allows personal grows, it is an entirely urban jurisdiction, with no open spaces for large-scale cultivation. DC is not Humboldt County, and it likely has to import most of the weed it consumes. And it's importing it from places where it is either cultivated illegally or transported illegally from places where it is legal to grow.

Similarly Chicago, which has significantly lower prices than the northeastern cities, may be benefitting from relative proximity to legal pot-growing states. It's 700 miles closer to Colorado and the West Coast. When the risk of transporting pot is lessened because the route is shorter, the risk tax goes down.

As for Miami, the low prices there are a bit of a mystery. The state has a reputation as an indoor pot cultivation powerhouse, in part because South Florida's muggy climate means home air-conditioning systems run 365 days a year, making it more difficult for police to find and investigate grows based on high electricity bills. But it also has relatively harsh marijuana cultivation laws. It is a historic smuggling center for Latin American drugs, but the data here are for high-grade US weed, not mid-grade Mexican, Colombian or Jamaican, so that doesn't really explain it, either.

The Miami anomaly aside, the lesson is clear, and it ain't rocket science: In addition to all the other costs imposed by marijuana prohibition, it hits pot smokers right in the wallet.

As a society, we may not want to make marijuana too cheap from fear that people will be inclined to use it to excess. That's where things like excise or luxury taxes come into play, as they have in the western legal states. They create a price floor. If there's a $100 excise tax on an ounce of pot, it doesn't matter how cheaply you can produce it, it's still going to cost $100—plus production costs and profits.

The western states aren't taxing it that steeply, but they are effectively creating a floor on pot prices. Still, the taxed weed out west is cheaper than the untaxed weed back east. Nobody likes paying taxes, but a pot tax is still significantly less expensive for consumers than a pot prohibition premium, and the revenues go for the general good, not into the pocket of Billy the Black Market Bud Man.

Phillip Smith is editor of the AlterNet Drug Reporter and author of the Drug War Chronicle.

Why BLM matters: a history racists find easy to gloss over when they say racism is dead

Sundown Towns
aka: Racial Cleansing


Between 1890 and 1968, thousands of towns across the United States drove out their black populations or took steps to forbid African Americans from living in them. Thus were created “sundown towns,” so named because many marked their city limits with signs typically reading, “Nigger, Don't Let The Sun Go Down On You In Alix”—an Arkansas town in Franklin County that had such a sign around 1970. By 1970, when sundown towns were at their peak, more than half of all incorporated communities outside the traditional South probably excluded African Americans, including probably more than a hundred towns in the northwestern two-thirds of Arkansas. White residents of the traditional South rarely engaged in the practice; they kept African Americans down but hardly drove them out. Accordingly, no sundown town has yet been confirmed in the southeastern third of Arkansas that lies east of a line from Brightstar (Miller County) to Blytheville (Mississippi County), and only three likely suspects have emerged.

Sundown towns in Arkansas range from hamlets like Alix to larger towns like Paragould (Greene County) and Springdale (Washington County). Entire counties went sundown, such as Boone, Clay, and Polk. Some multi-county areas also kept out African Americans. In Mississippi County, for example, according to historian Michael Dougan, a red line that was originally a road surveyor’s mark defined a “dead line” beyond which African Americans might not trespass to the west. That line apparently continued northeast into the Missouri Bootheel and southwest to Lepanto (Poinsett County), delineating more than 2,000 square miles.

Although there were not towns like these prior to the Civil War, precedents existed for the exclusion of free African Americans. As early as 1843, Arkansas denied free blacks entry into the state, and in 1859, Arkansas required such persons to leave the state by January 1, 1860, or be sold into slavery. Moreover, in 1864, the loyalist Arkansas faction passed a new state constitution that abolished slavery but excluded African Americans from moving into the state. However, that constitution never went into effect, and during Reconstruction, African Americans participated politically across the state. In 1890, every county had at least six African Americans, and only one had fewer than ten.

Then, between 1890 and 1940, white residents forced African Americans to make a “Great Retreat” in Arkansas and across the North. During this “Nadir of Race Relations,” lynchings peaked, and unions drove African Americans from such occupations as railroad fireman and meat cutter. Democrat Jeff Davis ran for Arkansas governor in 1900, 1902, and 1904, and then for the U. S. Senate in 1906; his language grew more Negrophobic with each campaign. “We have come to a parting of the way with the Negro,” he shouted. “If the brutal criminals of that race…. lay unholy hands upon our fair daughters, nature is so riven and shocked that the dire compact produces a social cataclysm.” White people responded with violence. By 1930, three Arkansas counties had no African Americans at all, and another eight had fewer than ten, all in the Arkansas Ozarks. By 1960, six counties had no African Americans (Baxter, Fulton, Polk, Searcy, Sharp, and Stone), seven more had one to three, and yet another county had six. All fourteen were probably sundown counties; eight have been confirmed.

Much of this area had been Unionist during the Civil War. Until 1890, white residents had maintained fairly good relations with their small African-American populations, partly because African Americans and white non-Democrats were political allies. Then, election law changes and Democratic violence made interracial coalitions impractical. Now, it would not pay to be anything but a Democrat. Allied with this Democratic resurgence, a wave of neo-Confederate nationalism swept Arkansas: most Ozark county histories written after 1890 tell of the war exclusively from the Confederate point of view. More than ever, it was in the interest of white populations to distance themselves from African Americans. Precisely in counties where residents had been Unionists, white residents now often seemed impelled to prove themselves ultra-Confederate and manifested the most robust anti-black fervor.

Often, the expulsion of African Americans was forced. Harrison (Boone County), for example, had been a reasonably peaceful biracial town in the early 1890s.”There was never a large Negro population,” according to Boone County historian Ralph Rea, “probably never more than three or four hundred, but they had their church, their social life, and in the main there was little friction between them and the whites.” Then, in late September of 1905, a white mob stormed the jail, carried several black prisoners outside the town, whipped them, and ordered them to leave. The rioters then swept through Harrison’s black neighborhood, tying men to trees and whipping them, burning several homes, and warning all African Americans to leave that night. Most fled without any belongings. Three or four wealthy white families sheltered servants who stayed on, but in 1909, another mob tried to lynch a black prisoner. Fearing for their lives, most remaining African Americans left. Harrison remained a sundown town at least until 2002. Similarly, Mena (Polk County) had a small black population until February 20, 1901, when a mentally impaired African American badly injured a twelve-year-old white girl. A white mob then took him from jail, fractured his skull, shot him, and cut his throat. In the aftermath, Polk County’s black residents fled.

Some of these riots, in turn, spurred whites in nearby smaller towns to hold their own, thus provoking little waves of expulsions. The Boone County events probably led to ejections from neighboring counties. In the early 1920s, William Pickens saw sundown signs across the Ozarks. By 1930, the region’s total black population had shrunk to half its pre-Civil War total.

Sundown towns often allowed one or two African Americans to remain, even while posting signs warning others not to stay the night. In Harrison, for example, James Wilson met the 1909 mob at his door with a shotgun and protected his house servant, Alecta Smith. Later, she insisted that her name was Alecta Caledonia Melvina Smith, but she also let white people call her “Aunt Vine,” which played along with the inferior status connoted by “uncle” and “auntie” as applied to older African Americans and helped her survive in an otherwise all-white community. Several Arkansas counties and towns show a slowly diminishing number of African Americans between 1890 and 1940 because they did not allow new black people in, and those who remained gradually died or left.

Sundown towns have shown astonishing tenacity. In the early 1900s, for example, pioneering archaeologist Clarence Moore “dared not proceed beyond Lepanto” on the Little River, for fear of endangering his black crew members. Dan and Phyllis Morse note that “race relations remain strained in that region,” a polite way of saying that African Americans still do not and perhaps cannot live safely in that area a century later. Sundown towns have achieved this stability by a variety of means. Some townspeople painted black mules on barns or rock outcrops, signaling to all that no “black ass” was allowed to spend the night. In Mena, African Americans did not even have to stop to get in trouble. Shirley Manning, a high school student there in 1960–61, describes the scene: “The local boys would threaten with words and knives Negroes who would come through town, and follow them to the outskirts of town shouting ‘better not let the sun set on your black ass in Mena, Arkansas,’ and they often ‘bumped’ the car with their bumper from behind. I was along in a car which did this, once, and saw it done more than once.”

An undated newspaper clipping from Rogers (Benton County), probably between 1910 and 1920, tells of the terror that African Americans might encounter in sundown towns even during the day. A Bentonville (Benton County) contractor was building a brick building in Rogers and brought with him a black hod carrier: “A group of young men were gathered in the Blue saloon when the Negro entered, probably looking for his employer. The group seized the Negro and began telling what they were going to do with him.” They threatened to drop him in an old well in the rear of the construction site after they had hanged him, “but others objected on the ground that the odor from the ones already planted there was becoming objectionable to the neighborhood.” Eventually, they let “the trembling Negro” slip, “and in a matter of seconds, he was just a blur on the horizon.” The incident was meant to be funny, for had the men been serious, they could easily have apprehended the runaway, yet was not entirely in jest, for it accomplished the man’s unemployment, surely one of its aims.

Economic boycott has kept many African Americans out of sundown towns. As motel owner Nick Khan said about Paragould in 2002, “If black people come in, they will find that they’re not welcome here. No one will hire them.” Whites who might defy the ban face reprisals. In 1969, a choir from Southern Baptist College performed in Harrison. One choir member was black, and a couple put her up for the night, “but we worried lest our house get blown up,” remembered the wife. Despite being warned not to, Khan hired an African American to work at his motel in 1982; his transient clientele gave him a form of economic independence.

Sundown towns continued to form in Arkansas as late as 1954, when white residents of Sheridan (Grant County) rid themselves of their black neighbors in response to Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. The owner of the local sawmill and the sawmill workers’ homes was principally responsible. He made his African-American employees an extraordinary offer: he would give them their homes and move them to Malvern (Hot Spring County), twenty-five miles west, at no cost to them. If a family refused to move, he would evict them and burn down their home. Unsurprisingly, African Americans “chose” to leave. The few other African Americans in Sheridan—preachers, independent business operators—suddenly found themselves without a clientele. They left, too. Afterward, Sheridan developed a reputation for aggressively anti-black behavior. Some smaller communities in Arkansas may also have gotten rid of their African Americans after Brown.

Hate groups have long been drawn to sundown towns. Harrison developed a large Ku Klux Klan (KKK) chapter that targeted striking railroad workers in the 1920s, hanging one from a railroad bridge in 1923 and escorting the rest to the Missouri line. KKK leaders still live in the Harrison area. Gerald L. K. Smith, a radio evangelist and leading anti-Semite in the 1930s and 1940s, moved his headquarters to Eureka Springs (Carroll County) partly because it was an all-white town.

Historian Patrick Huber calls the expulsions by which Ozark communities became sundown towns “defining events in the history of their communities.” Nevertheless, despite that importance, or rather because of it, most sundown towns have kept hidden the means by which they became and stayed white. Sociologist Gordon Morgan, trying in 1973 to uncover the history of African Americans in the Ozarks, wrote, “Some white towns have deliberately destroyed reminders of the blacks who lived there years ago.” To this day, other than by oral history, sundown towns are hard to research, because communities took pains to ensure that nothing about their policy was written. The Rogers Historical Museum has done an exemplary job of preserving an example of this suppression. In 1962, the Rogers Daily News upset the local Chamber of Commerce by using the following language in a front-page editorial lauding a successful Fats Domino concert: “The city which once had signs posted at the city limits and at the bus and rail terminals boasting ‘Nigger, You Better Not Let the Sun Set On You in Rogers,’ was hosting its first top name entertainer—a Negro—at night!” The chamber called the newspaper editor to task and asked its public relations committee to “keep a close watch on future news reporting and take any appropriate action should further detriment to the City of Rogers be detected.”

Some Arkansas towns have long used their racial composition as a selling point to entice new residents. Mena advertised what it had—“Cool Summers, Mild Winters”—and did not have —“No Blizzards, No Negroes.” In its 1907 Guide and Directory, Rogers competed by bragging about its “seven churches, two public schools, one Academy, one sanitorium” and noted, “Rogers has no Negroes or saloons.” Not to be outdone, nearby Siloam Springs (Benton County) claimed “Healing Waters, Beautiful Parks, Many Springs, Public Library,” alongside “No Malaria, No Mosquitoes, and No Negroes.” The pitch worked: a 1972 survey of Mountain Home (Baxter County) residents found many retirees from Northern cities who chose Mountain Home partly because it was all-white. A reporter in Mena wrote in 1980, “It is not an uncommon experience in Polk County to hear a newcomer remark that he chose to move here because of ‘low taxes and no niggers.’”

For fifteen years after the 1964 Civil Rights Act, motels and restaurants in some sundown towns continued to exclude African Americans. Today, public accommodations are generally open. More than half of all Arkansas sundown towns have given up their exclusionary residential policies, mostly after 1990. Of fourteen suspected sundown counties in 1960, eight showed at least three African American households in the 2000 census. Additional “white” households now include “black” children, especially interracial offspring of white mothers from the community and black partners from elsewhere. The public schools of Sheridan desegregated around 1992, when students from two small nearby biracial communities were included in the new consolidated high school. In about 1995, a black family moved into Sheridan, and before the decade ended, it was joined by three more—slow progress, but progress nevertheless.

Some towns still merit the term, however. Smokey Crabtree, longtime resident of Fouke (Miller County), wrote in 2001:

As far back as the late twenties colored people weren’t welcome in Fouke, Arkansas to live, or to work in town. The city put up an almost life sized chalk statue of a colored man at the city limit line, he had an iron bar in one hand and was pointing out of town with the other hand. The city kept the statue painted and dressed, really taking good care of it. Back in those days colored people were run out of Fouke, one was even hung from a large oak tree…. As of this date there are no colored people living within miles of Fouke, so the attention getter, the means to shake the little town up isn’t “the Russians are coming,” it’s someone is importing colored people into town.

Sundown reputations persist. “Never walk in Greenwood or you will die,” a black Arkansas college student said in 2002. The 2000 census showed two African-American households in Greenwood (Sebastian County), however, so his information may be out of date. But such reputations can be self-maintaining.
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