Sunday, May 02, 2010
Video: Jerry Mitchell On Richard Barrett (03:34)
Clarion-Ledger reporter Jerry Mitchell talks about white supremacist Richard Barrett who was found murdered in his Rankin County home.
Man Charged With Murder In White Supremacist Richard Barrett's Death
Gary Pettus and Justin Fritscher • email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org • April 23, 2010
A state inmate on supervised release is facing a murder charge in the slaying of white supremacist Richard Barrett, 67, whose burned and stabbed body was discovered in his Pearl-area home.
Vincent McGee, 23, who lives with his parents on the same street as Barrett, was arrested around 5 p.m. Thursday at his sister's home in Pearl, Sheriff Ronnie Pennington said.
Barrett's body had multiple stab wounds to the neck and blunt-force trauma to the head; 35 percent of his body had been burned, Pennington said.
While McGee is African American, authorities have not said Barrett's racial beliefs were a motive in his slaying.
McGee had performed yard work for Barrett, Pennington said.
McGee had served five years of a six-year sentence for simple assault on a police officer and grand larceny when he was released on probation in February from the State Penitentiary at Parchman.
He is being held in the Rankin County Detention Center. His initial court appearance will be Monday.
A photo on his Facebook page shows off numerous tattoos associated with the Vice Lords street gang.
Pennington said McGee was arrested after investigators obtained a search warrant based on evidence they spotted under the carport of his parents' home. Pennington did not elaborate.
Witnesses told investigators Barrett had gone to McGee's home around 7:30 p.m. Wednesday to pay him for yard work.
Around 8 a.m. Thursday, one of Barrett's neighbors called firefighters after smoke was spotted at Barrett's home at 227 E. Petros Road east of the Monterey community near Pearl.
Firefighters discovered his body inside the home.
Barrett's home is in a racially mixed neighborhood. Residents said they spotted Barrett only rarely, when he rode his bike and mowed his yard.
Barrett, a lawyer, was a highly decorated Vietnam War veteran.
Although he lived near Pearl, he operated the Nationalist Movement in the rural town of Learned, about 20 miles southwest of Jackson.
The organization criticizes racial integration, attacks affirmative action and bemoans the loss of symbols such as the Confederate flag.
Cathy Glaser, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League in New Orleans, said she would not comment on Barrett's death specifically.
She did say, "The ADL considered Barrett to be a committed white supremacist.
"His work and his actions inflamed racial animosity in the state of Mississippi for decades," she said.
But Barrett was more of a showman than a significant leader, said Mark Potok, director of the Intelligence Project, which monitors hate groups as part of the Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center.
"He was a white supremacist gadfly who flitted from cause to cause. He never assembled a group that amounted to more than a few young men," Potok said.
"Very frequently in the '80s he would invite young skinhead men to his home on weekends."
Barrett also had a "fair amount of truck with the Klan," Potok said, referring to the KKK.
James McIntyre, a recently disbarred Jackson lawyer who has defended Klansmen, said he was "sorry" to hear of Barrett's death.
Among those McIntyre defended was reputed Klan leader Edgar Ray Killen, convicted of three counts of manslaughter in 2005 in connection with the 1964 killings of three civil rights workers in Philadelphia.
Barrett publicly supported Killen throughout his trial.
But as attorneys, McIntyre and Barrett were on opposing sides in one or two cases years ago, McIntyre said.
"He was very cordial then," McIntyre said. "He always acted very professionally."
Told of Barrett's death, Klan leader Jordan Gollub of Jackson said, "It's tragic that something happened to him.
"We discussed historical and political issues together. But I can't say I agreed with him much," said Gollub, who heads the Royal Confederate Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.
Barrett was brought up in New York City and East Orange, N.J. He moved to Mississippi in 1966 and later earned a law degree from the then-Memphis State University.
In Mississippi, he organized events opposed to integration and civil rights, while promoting such "patriotic" events as Spirit of America Day, which honors white male athletes only.
To comment on this story, call Gary Pettus at (601) 961-7037.
For several decades, white supremacist Richard Barrett has made headlines, often for his one-man protests and parades espousing hate.
On Thursday, Barrett made headlines again, this time as the victim of hate. He was beaten and reportedly stabbed 35 times in his Rankin County home in Mississippi before being set on fire, according to the sheriff.
Deputies arrested Barrett’s neighbor, Vincent Justin McGee, a 23-year-old black man placed on probation in February after serving less than three years of a six-year sentence for grand larceny and assault on a police officer.
Authorities haven’t identified a motive, but I suspect one will emerge soon.
As the head of the Nationalist Movement, Barrett never shied away from a microphone or a TV camera. He often espoused his racist views, calling for all black Americans to be shipped back to Africa.
Since 1994, he has shown up in support of white supremacists tried for violent killings, such as Byron De La Beckwith, Sam Bowers, Ernest Avants, Edgar Ray Killen and James Ford Seale. All were convicted.
In Seale’s trial, prosecutors introduced a July 23, 1964, letter to the Franklin Advocate in which he referred to African Americans as “n—–s” and “coons” and quoted Scripture that he said barred race mixing: “Thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor show mercy unto them. Neither shalt thou make MARRIAGE unto them.”
Barrett reprinted the letter in his white supremacist magazine and featured Seale on the front cover.
Last fall, Barrett appeared on the University of Mississippi campus, showing his support for the football game chant, ”The South Will Rise Again.”
Because of my past work, some might think I would rejoice at Barrett’s death.
Far from it. I view his death as very sad. (Feel free to watch this video on my memories of covering Barrett for the past two decades.)
No one deserves to be beaten and stabbed 35 times before being set on fire.
No one deserves to die from the hands of hate, not even someone who has sown its seeds for a lifetime.
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