Wednesday, September 29, 2004
Today at 4 p.m. Mayor Harvey Johnson called for the State Fair Commission to speak out against the views of white supremacist Richard Barrett, while stopping short of calling for a boycott of the Mississippi State Fair in October. "I would like the commission to go on record saying that they are against the views of the Nationalist Movement and urge the attorney general to re-open this case," Johnson said at a press conference at his office.
In a phone interview later, Barrett responded to the mayor: "My response to Johnson is this we don't need a shoe-shine boy to run the city." Barrett contends that all of the mayor's efforts are just antics to violate his First Amendment rights.
Barrett has made news over the last week because he intends to bring Edgar Ray Killen, the man accused of orchestrating the murders of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, to the Fair and treated him like a hero, even collecting signatures in his support.
The mayor said he wants to call for a formal meeting of the commission so that, if nothing else, he can voice the concerns of the citizens of the city. "I work with the commission; I know them; they are a sensitive people," Johnson said. "We will just have to see how they will react to this request." Johnson said that, although he is not calling for a boycott as many are discussing, he understands the feelings of those who plan to stay home.
Concern for safety has also become an issue. Yesterday, Sheriff Malcolm McMillin held a news conference in his office to discuss the fair booth and what will be done to ensure that the area will be secure. McMillin said that the Hinds County Sheriff's office has been at the Fair to keep the peace as long as he has been in office. "This year's fair will be no exception. he fair will be a safe, clean, fun place for the whole family." said McMillin.
He added: "Richard Barrett is trying to ruin the fair this year and hijack it for his own twisted political motives. But as long as I'm sheriff, he won't succeed." Agreeing with members of the Fair Commission, McMillin encouraged citizens not to boycott the fair.
As a counter to the Barrett petition, McMillin, has decided to have a petition at his booth to re-open the 1964 case. "I'm saying to the people of Hinds County: Come on down! Bring the whole family! Have a good time! Don't give Barrett what he wants," said McMillin
In response to McMillian, Barrett said loudly, "Our petition will whoop their petition!"
Barrett went to the Fair Commission Tuesday to fill out his application to include all needed information and resubmit it in order to meet the 5 p.m. Thursday deadline. Barrett said his message to the public is "We are called rednecks or blue-eyed devils, but now we have to be called winners."
Monday a group of protesters came to the fairgrounds. Some held up signs that said "Mississippi is still burning," and "1st Amendment is no excuse for abuse." Rev. Ed King, a civil rights activist in the 1960s, remembered how black students attempted to march downtown and were arrested and taken to livestock pens at the fairgrounds.
"We stood out there and the few in the group who could remember the 1960s knew we were standing in the spots where so many people had been arrested and brutally beaten," he said.
Ask all of your readers to go to the fair and get his autograph. After he signs for you, tell him when he dies you'll ebay it and donate the money to a black church. Maybe even a memorial to the trio. I'm sure hearing that 50 or 60 times would wear on his nerves.