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Story Archives: 'If you want to live, don't yell!' Klansman warned kidnap victims in 1964
|'If you want to live, don't yell!' Klansman warned kidnap victims in 1964|
By BEN WALLACE
During the waning hours of February 13, 1964, Raleigh Jackson "Red" Glover of Vidalia parked his car in the middle of a curve of what is now known as the B.B. Beard Road at Monterey, propped up the hood and waited.
The car didn't have engine trouble, but he and at least a half-dozen armed, hooded men, lurking in the bushes next to the road, had set up the scene to make it appear that way.
Nearby, Robert Earl Watkins and Richard James, had finished installing mufflers and repairing the rear bumper of a neighborhood man's Cadillac. The two black males left the home of G.R. Stewart along Workman's Bayou around dusk, headed for home.
Neither Watkins nor James reached his intended destination.
According to recently declassified FBI documents concerning civil rights-era cold case murders in the 1960s, James saw a 1950s Ford vehicle parked in the middle of the road and decided to pull over to offer help.
A white man, later identified as Glover by Watkins, stepped out from behind the hood and said his car was having engine trouble. When James bent over to look under the hood, Glover pulled out a pistol.
"This is a holdup," Glover said, adding that nothing was wrong with the car. A member of the Ku Klux Klan in Concordia Parish, Glover was pegged by the FBI as the leader of the Silver Dollar Group, a violent Klan offshoot believed responsible for many acts of racial violence in the Concordia Parish and Natchez, Miss., during the 1960s.
At that moment, a group of hooded and masked men emerged from the roadside bushes with what appeared to be sawed-off shotguns, ordering Watkins and James into Glover's car.
"If you want to live, don't yell!" Glover warned, according to James' FBI interview three years after the incident.
The men piled into the vehicle, with Watkins and James sitting in the middle seat of the front and back seats, respectively. Members of the Klan hit squad, known as a wrecking crew, placed hoods over the two men's heads and bound their hands behind their backs.
According to James, they drove about three miles before emptying out near an abandoned oil well, where two 12-gauge shotgun shells were later recovered. Glover ordered Watkins and James to strip off their clothes and lie down on the dirt. Nude and exposed, the two were pinned down by Klan members.
James received six to eight strikes from a strap, according to his interview, before being told by Glover to get dressed and run.
He took off and after about 30 yards heard gunshots, which James thought meant Watkins had been shot. He lied down and waited a few minutes before running straight to the nearby home of Nelson Flaherty.
Mrs. Flaherty heard the gunshots but thought they were from hunters. Shortly after her husband returned from a meeting at the Harrisonburg Baptist Church, James showed up at their doorstep.
After tending to his lashes and lacerated hand, James was able to return home.
Watkins ended up at his parent's house several miles away. A week after the beatings, Watkins boarded a train in Brookhaven, Miss., en route to Chicago, with $29 from his mother and sister on which to survive until he found work.
Glover warned both Watkins and James to leave Monterey or be killed.
Many local residents, including Watkins, according to interviews with his family members, believed the beatings were a result of a phone call Watkins had placed to the wife of a local man.
According to the FBI documents, Watkins called the white woman to tell her that some of her cattle had escaped and were in danger of being killed by angry neighbors if she failed to retrieve them soon enough.
The husband told agents Watkins did not call his wife. The man would not allow investigators to interview his spouse, saying she would have told him had someone made such a phone call.
However, nearly everyone else interviewed claimed the phone call was the reason for the whippings, suggesting that James, who was with Watkins, was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
An FBI informant said he was told by Glover that the leader of the Monterey KKK chapter had called in Glover and his crew to take care of the issue with Watkins.
Suspected in the beatings along with Glover were fellow SDG members Tommie Lee Jones of Natchez, James Lee of Lismore, who was living in Natchez in 1967, and James Scarborough of Ferriday. Shown a photo of suspects, Watkins identified Glover as the man who "faked car trouble."
While other local men were allegedly involved, Glover, Jones, Lee and Scarborough were prime suspects in 1967 because they had been connected to other local Klan violence.
Jones and Scarborough were suspects in the arson murder of Ferriday shoe shop owner Frank Morris in 1964. Glover was the prime suspect in the carbombing murder of NAACP official and Armstrong Tire employee Wharlest Jackson in 1967.
All are now dead.
Then-Concordia Parish Sheriff Noah Cross told the FBI he did not believe the beatings were conducted by any Klan organization, going as far as saying "there is not or never has been any Klan group activity in Concordia Parish."
Deputies did not keep written record of the whipping incident, nor were any parish, state or federal charges ever made against Glover or any other men regarding the Watkins-James case.
Not long after the beatings, Glover told an informant he "was for killing the Negroes and he was not going to just beat any more Negroes and have it reported."
|Frank Morris Murder Series|