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Sun, 06.07.1998

A Black Man is Dragged to Death in Jasper, Texas

James Byrd

On this date in 1998, a Black man was dragged to his death in Jasper, TX.

Three white men with suspected ties to the Ku Klux Klan chained James Byrd, Jr. (a Black hitchhiker), to the back of a pickup truck and dragged him to his death. His head, neck, and right arm were found about a mile from his mangled torso. A wrench with the name of one of the suspects on it was found near the body. Byrd had been dragged about two miles on a narrow, winding asphalt road.

Lawrence Russell Brewer, 31, Shawn Allen Berry, and John William King, both 23, were charged with murder and jailed without bail. Byrd, 49, had been walking home from a niece's bridal shower on a Saturday night and apparently accepted a ride from the defendants. He was last seen riding in the back of the truck, police said. When he was found, he was so badly disfigured that investigators had to use fingerprints to identify him.

King and Brewer were covered with tattoos indicating white supremacist beliefs, and all three had spent time in prison, where they apparently had ties to the KKK and the Aryan Nation.  Jasper is a timber town of 7,800 people about 100 miles northeast of Houston. Byrd, a father of three, lived on disability checks because of an arm injury.


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