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!*LYNCHING IN SPRINGFIELD, MISSOURI!

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  • Djehuti Sundaka
    !*LYNCHING IN SPRINGFIELD, MISSOURI! From: shiriki unganisha Date: Sun, 06 Oct 2002 09:52:49 -0700 (PDT) Hotep
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 8, 2002
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      !*LYNCHING IN SPRINGFIELD, MISSOURI!


      From: shiriki unganisha
      <stoptargetingtheafrikancommunity@ yahoo.com>
      Date: Sun, 06 Oct 2002 09:52:49 -0700 (PDT)

      Hotep Comrades:

      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.

      In Struggle,
      Sista Shiriki
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
      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
      Springfield police.

      * 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
      occasional counseling.

      * 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
      Hospital South.

      * 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
      not homicide.

      Sincerely,

      Cheryl Fischer
      The Kuumba Human Rights Focus Group


      http://www.springfieldnews-leader.com/news/hanging100302.html

      Oct. 3, 2002
      Hanging ruled a suicide
      Black man found at tower downtown; image rekindles
      painful memories.

      By Laura Bauer
      News-Leader

      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
      himself.

      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
      body.

      An autopsy Wednesday evening confirmed Gakinya died
      from asphyxiation.

      "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
      tower.

      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.
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