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*James Fowler was born on this date in 1933. He was a white-American, murderer, drug dealer, and state trooper.
James Bonard Fowler was born into a farming family in Geneva County, Alabama. He attended local schools, which were racially segregated, and played football in high school. After graduating, he served for a period in the US Navy from 1951 to 1953 during the Korean War as a Petty officer third class, and then attended the University of Alabama in the late 1950s. He married a local woman but later they were divorced.
After completing training, Fowler entered the Alabama State Police in 1961. By February 1965, he was a corporal. He and other state troopers were increasingly charged with suppressing American Civil Rights actions conducted by African Americans seeking to regain their constitutional rights in the state and others of the South. The mid-1960s had become increasingly a time of tension in Jim Crow Alabama. He is known for fatally shooting civil rights activist Jimmie Lee Jackson on February 18, 1965, during a peaceful protest seeking voting rights. Fowler was among police and state troopers who attacked unarmed marchers that night in Marion, Alabama.
A grand jury declined to indict him that year. In response to Jackson's death, several days later civil rights leaders initiated the Selma to Montgomery marches as part of their campaign for voting rights. That year Congress passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which President Lyndon B. Johnson signed. After the shooting, Fowler was reassigned to Birmingham. In 1968 he was dismissed from the state troopers after physically attacking his supervisor. He enlisted in the US Army, serving with valor in Vietnam. After the war, he became a heroin trafficker in northern Thailand, returning to the US for brief visits. During his time in Thailand, he was convicted of heroin trafficking and served five years in a Thai prison.
After returning to the United States for good in 1996, Fowler settled with his second wife on a farm in rural Geneva County. He farmed for the remainder of his life. Fowler expressed a racist attitude in a 2005 interview with a local newspaper. He said that he greatly respected such Black leaders as Nelson Mandela and Colin Powell, but generally did not think that blacks and whites should mix in society. In 2005 Fowler admitted to the shooting of Jackson in an interview with a local newspaper, saying that he had acted in self-defense.
In 2007 he was indicted by the district attorney in Perry County for Jackson's death, and in 2010 he pleaded guilty to manslaughter. In 2007, Fowler was also being investigated by the FBI for the 1966 shooting death of Nathan Johnson, a Black man fatally shot after being taken to the Alabaster jail. He was sentenced to six months in prison but was released one month early for a surgical procedure. James Fowler died of pancreatic cancer on July 5, 2015, in Geneva County, Alabama at the age of 81.