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83 year old Mother grieves son's (16 at the time) death, overshadowed by King slaying

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Omaha Steve Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-30-08 07:47 PM
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83 year old Mother grieves son's (16 at the time) death, overshadowed by King slaying /

By Michael Lollar (Contact)
Friday, March 28, 2008

After her son's death, Lizzie Payne put more than 600 miles between herself and the city that now inspires a sharp edge to her voice: "Down in Memphis is a low-down place," says Payne, 83, from Flint, Mich., where she moved in 1969 when injury, insult and two deaths made her fear for her own life.

Every year since 1968, Payne and seven of her children have dreaded the anniversary of the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. As the rest of the world prepared to celebrate the life and legacy of King each year, her family was reminded of her child's death at the hands of a Memphis police officer.

Dave Darnell/The Commercial Appeal

Kira Tidwell visits the grave of her brother, Larry Payne, at New Park Cemetery on Horn Lake Road in South Memphis. Payne was killed during the sanitation strike of 1968, days before the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Larry Payne, 16, died March 28, 1968, the only fatality in a day of riots and looting in the aftermath of a sanitation workers' march led by King. More than 60 people were injured. King would later telephone Lizzie Payne to console her. He planned to visit her in her public housing apartment at Fowler Homes. Before he could visit, he too was dead, his murder overshadowing Larry Payne's death and turning the 16-year-old into a historical footnote except to his family.

"That has got the best of my life. It's taken everything out of me," says Lizzie Payne, crying once again as the memories return on the 40th anniversary of her son's death.

The Commercial Appeal files

Larry Payne, 16, was killed by police on March 28, 1968, in what officers said was a looting, knife-wielding incident during the sanitation workers' strike that preceded the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

"I was in my living room watching 'As the World Turns.' A lady ran in and told me Larry had been shot by the police. I ran out. I ran to touch him. The police would not let me touch him. He said, 'Get back, nigger.' He put the barrel of the gun right into my stomach. I could feel it."

Her tears stop as the racial slur and the threat of her own death remind her of the police officer who took her son's life. "I hate the policeman that killed him. They didn't even arrest him for killing Larry."

FULL story at link.

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