|Did police cover up Alfred Wright’s murder?Demand Texas officials and the Department of Justice uncover the truth and bring justice for Alfred’s family.|
an Update entry 3/13/2014
Mounting evidence suggests a police cover-up in the possible murder of Alfred Wright. Recently, a private investigator hired by Alfred’s family condemned the Sabine County Sheriff’s Department for not following basic police procedure, calling its investigation, “one of the worst in Texas history.”1
Nearly 40,000 ColorOfChange members have already called on Texas authorities and the United States Department of Justice to conduct a full and proper investigation. Unless enough of us urge federal and state officials to make Alfred’s case a high priority — and dedicate the resources necessary to uncover the truth — Alfred’s death, like so many others involving Black victims, may go unsolved.
Please join us in calling on the Department of Justice, Governor Rick Perry, and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott to conduct a thorough investigation into Alfred’s death and the Sabine County Sheriff’s Department’s mishandling of the case. It only takes a moment.
Matt Nelson Director of Organizing, ColorOfChange.org
1. “Family Searching for Answers After Man’s Mysterious Death,” ABC News, 02-05-14 http://act.colorofchange.org/go/3356?t=3&akid=3331.1174326.KMvxC0
A Sabine County, TX community suspects foul play and a police cover-up after the tragic disappearance and death of Alfred Wright — a 28-year-old Black husband and father of three.1
In November, Alfred went missing in a section of Texas notorious for racial violence and hostility directed at Black residents.2 Days after Alfred’s mutilated body was located by a family-organized search party — in an area police claimed was searched repeatedly by trained dogs3 — the county medical examiner released an autopsy claiming his death was “accidental” and caused by “combined drug intoxication.”4 But a separate, family-ordered independent autopsy found evidence of severe head and neck trauma and determined there was a “high likelihood of homicidal violence.”5
Growing doubt with the official story and the two conflicting autopsies have forced the Department of Justice and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott to launch independent investigations into Alfred’s disappearance and death. But this is not enough. Your voice can help ensure that the DOJ, Texas Governor and AG feel the pressure of a national spotlight, are compelled to make the investigation a high priority, and dedicate the resources necessary to find the truth and hold local law enforcement accountable.
Please join us in demanding that the Department of Justice, Governor Rick Perry and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott conduct a thorough investigation into both Alfred’s death and the Sabine County Sheriff’s Department’s mishandling of the initial investigation. It only takes a moment.
Violent and unsolved murders when the victim is Black are an old story in this part of Texas and Alfred’s family has good reason to suspect racially-motivated foul play. In 1998, just 45 minutes away from where Alfred’s body was discovered, James Byrd was beaten to death by three white supremacists, chained to the back of a pickup truck and dragged by his ankles for three miles.6 The three men responsible for James Byrd’s lynching and murder were convicted only after strong and sustained public pressure forced the government to prosecute and enact historic hate crimes legislation.7
Law enforcement officers across the country often use deeply ingrained stereotypes to demonize Black men and boys as drug addicts and “thugs” in order to justify the violence perpetrated against them.8,9 These dangerous notions lead to a culture of impunity where Black folks like Alfred are seen as undeserving of police resources, including a thorough investigation.10
Due to the Sabine County police department’s egregious history of racially-motivated attacks against Black residents, few in that community trust that the Sheriff’s Department can conduct a proper investigation when the victim is Black.11 In 1987, a Black man named Loyal Garner was arrested in Sabine County, charged with drunk driving and taken to the county jail where he was severely bludgeoned, hospitalized and eventually died from the brutal assault. The three white police officers responsible for Loyal Garner’s death were quickly acquitted of civil rights charges.12
Our elected officials and leaders in government have a duty to hold law enforcement to a high standard of conduct and ensure that the murders of Black people do not go unsolved.
Please join us in demanding a thorough investigation into Alfred’s death and the Sabine County Sheriff’s Department’s mishandling of the investigation. And when you do, please ask your friends and family to do the same.
Thanks and Peace,
–Matt, Rashad, Arisha, Aimée, Jamar, and the rest of the ColorOfChange team February 28th, 2014
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1. “Alfred Wright’s Death Shrouded In Mystery,” Huffington Post, 02-07-14 http://act.colorofchange.org/go/3277?t=10&akid=3316.1174326.45AtPJ
2. “A Missing Man and Familiar Old Wounds in Jasper,” Texas Observer, 11-21-13 http://act.colorofchange.org/go/3278?t=12&akid=3316.1174326.45AtPJ
3. “Death of East Texas Man Shrouded in Mystery,” ABC News, 02-08-14 http://act.colorofchange.org/go/3279?t=14&akid=3316.1174326.45AtPJ
4. “County-paid autopsy report lists ‘drug intoxication’ as cause of Alfred Wright’s death,” KLTV, 01-08-14 http://act.colorofchange.org/go/3239?t=16&akid=3316.1174326.45AtPJ
5. “Another Tragic Murder of a Black Man Near Jasper, Texas #Justice4AlfredWright,” BK Nation, 10-09-14 http://act.colorofchange.org/go/3304?t=18&akid=3316.1174326.45AtPJ
6. “Cover-up? A mysterious death in Texas,” CNN, 02-16-14 http://act.colorofchange.org/go/3303?t=20&akid=3316.1174326.45AtPJ
7. “Today marks the 15th anniversary of the murder of James Byrd Jr.,” Dallas Voice, 06-07-13 http://act.colorofchange.org/go/3344?t=22&akid=3316.1174326.45AtPJ
8. “No Country for ‘Black Teens’,” Huffington Post, 04-05-13 http://act.colorofchange.org/go/3284?t=24&akid=3316.1174326.45AtPJ
9. “Black Man Vs. Criminal,” New York Times, 03-13-12 http://act.colorofchange.org/go/3285?t=26&akid=3316.1174326.45AtPJ
10. “Why black people don’t trust the police,” CNN, 03-23-12 http://act.colorofchange.org/go/3286?t=28&akid=3316.1174326.45AtPJ
11. “A Missing Man and Familiar Old Wounds in Jasper,” Texas Observer, 11-21-13 http://act.colorofchange.org/go/3278?t=30&akid=3316.1174326.45AtPJ
12. “Race and Justice: A Killing in East Texas – A Special Report; Death as a Ripple in Deep Racial Current,” New York Times, 05-11-90 http://act.colorofchange.org/go/3345?t=33&akid=3316.1174326.45AtPJ