!*LYNCHING IN SPRINGFIELD, MISSOURI!
- !*LYNCHING IN SPRINGFIELD, MISSOURI!
From: shiriki unganisha
Date: Sun, 06 Oct 2002 09:52:49 -0700 (PDT)
Greetings, forwarded is an article concerning the
lynching of an Afrikan brotha in springfield,missouri.
Please pass on to any and everyone that will listen.
This is the climate this government have set and
Afrikan people and other people of color must contend
with in the 21th century.
To Whom It May Concern:
Yesterday the body of an African-descent man, Leonard
Gakinya, was found hanging from a communications tower
in the center city of Springfield, Missouri. Thanks
to the diligence of my colleague, Ms. Rosemary
Stewart-Stafford, there are pictures of the incident.
Ms. Stewart-Stafford was also diligent enough to look
through the local telephone book and contact the local
directory assistance for the surname "Gakinya." She
located and spoke to a Mrs. Regina Gakinya, the mother
of the deceased. Her telephone number is (417)
864-7589 and her address is 1017-B S. Newton,
Springfield, Missouri 65807.
The Springfield NEWS-LEADER has an article about the
hanging with much reference to it being a "suicide."
Please see the clipping below.
This morning, I talked to Mrs. Gakinya and her two
daughters. They all state they don't think their son
and brother committed suicide. Their basic comments
to me were:
* Leonard has lived in Springfield, Missouri, since
1996, and had no real problems until after September
11, 2001. After that he was targeted by the INS for
working without a permit and was also followed by the
* Mrs. Gakinya had gotten a lawyer in Kansas City,
Missouri, to assist Leonard with his deportation case.
Her name is Sarah Schilcher and her telephone number
is (816) 665-3852. He was to have a hearing in Kansas
City on November 17.
* Leonard was fearful of the local police and was
anxious about his situation. But he was not depressed
in the sense of having long-term clinical depression.
He had seen a Dr. Babin at a local "free clinic" in a
social services organization called The Kitchen.
* Leonard would also see the pastor (Father Tom
Kiefer) of his church, St. Agnes Cathedral for
* Lately Leonard seemed fine and was interacting well
with his family.
* On Tuesday, October 1, someone (a European-American
male voice) called the Gakinya residence and asked for
Leonard. Then the person hanged up the phone without
identifying himself or waiting for an answer. Mrs.
Gakinya said the local telephone company states it is
unable to trace the call.
* Mrs. Gakinya states she was not allowed to see
Leonard's autopsy procedure and that the local police
proceeded without her premission and involvement. The
police also told her that Leonard had been taken to
Cox Hospital North when actually his body was at Cox
* Mrs. Gakinya and her daughters state that they
waited 2 hours at Cox Hospital South before they were
allowed to see Leonard, and that hospital peronnel
seemed resistant to allowing them to see his body.
Mrs. Gakinya said she had to insist upon seeing her
son. Leonard had a large bruise on his left temple
(ignored by the newspaper account) according to Mrs.
Gakinya, and she stated a hospital nurse referred to
Leonard as having been traumatized.
* Time is of the essence in this situation as Mrs.
Gakinya would like to take Leonard's body back to
Kenya for burial.
* Mrs. Gakinya has no police report, no hospital
report, no autopsy report or any other papers related
to the death of her son.
* The Gakinya's would like an independent expert with
no ties to Southwest missouri to perform another
autopsy on Leonard's body to make sure his death was
The Kuumba Human Rights Focus Group
Oct. 3, 2002
Hanging ruled a suicide
Black man found at tower downtown; image rekindles
By Laura Bauer
The discovery early Wednesday morning of a black man
hanging from a radio tower in downtown Springfield
startled police and onlookers.
Police cordoned off the area, initially treating it as
a crime scene until they could determine what had
happened. As the investigation progressed, police
learned the man was Leonard Gakinya, 27, who had tried
suicide at least two other times this year, police
records show. One of those was another attempt to hang
But not knowing whether Gakinya's death was a homicide
or a suicide, some couldn't keep the image of
Springfield's 1906 lynchings of three black men on the
public square out of their minds.
"It's automatic retrospect," said James Shields, a
member of the local National Association for the
Advancement of Colored People.
At the scene, the Rev. Larry Maddox shook his head in
disbelief. The image tugged at his heart. "It's too
much of a reminder," he said. "It's too close to the
square. Without knowing how he got there, there's a
lot of assumptions people make."
Police did not immediately remove or hide the body
despite the requests of some bystanders.
"Can't someone go buy some tarps and hang them up
there to block the view?" Maddox asked police
spokesman Officer Matt Brown. "The less visible that
is, the better off it's going to be. What you don't
want is people coming by and looking at that."
Brown talked with police officials and firefighters
but neither department had tarps that were big enough.
Buying larger tarps would have taken several hours to
orchestrate, he said.
Chief Lynn Rowe said police did what they had to in
order to conduct a thorough investigation.
Going in too soon would have ruined any chance of
determining how the man did die, he said.
"We can't just look at a situation and make a
determination," said Rowe on Wednesday afternoon.
"Unless and until we know exactly what happened we
have at minimum a suspicious death."
It would also have been dangerous to put a tarp on the
tower itself, Rowe said.
"If you take something else and put it up there you
are ruining potential evidence," he said. "That tarp
could have wiped away fingerprints."
Police had to dust the tower under and around the
An autopsy Wednesday evening confirmed Gakinya died
"It's a clear-cut suicide," said Ron Yoder, deputy
Greene County Medical Examiner. Yoder estimated
Gakinya died around midnight.
When found, Gakinya was wearing a gray T-shirt, blue
jeans, tennis shoes and thick black gloves. The tower
is surrounded by a chain link fence with open wires at
the top, but authorities said a person could have
climbed up on large rocks outside the fence to get to
the tower with little difficulty. Police used a
firefighter ladder to get to Gakinya and remove the
body, which was about 30 feet up in the 100-foot
The area is bounded by railroad tracks, Mill Street
and Olive Street. It consists of parking lots,
warehouses and old brick industrial buildings.
Some people who work in the area walked to the site,
curious about the police and fire truck at the tower.
Cory Eden and a friend, both young students who
sometimes work day labor, came to find out if the
young man was one of the many homeless people they
have worked with.
"I'm afraid it might be someone we know," Eden said.
Larry Mosley, a train track inspector working in the
area, was unnerved by the death's coming just one day
after a Southwest Missouri State University student
died after jumping from a parking garage on campus.
"I guess some people get in a state of mind and a
condition where it just isn't worth living," he said.