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Family seeks expert second opinion in hanging case

By Jesse Muhammad -Staff Writer- | Last updated: Dec 30, 2010 - 12:35:51 PM

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It was hard for family and friends to hold back tears over the loss of Frederick Jermaine Carter during his funeral. Photo: Ansar El
GREENWOOD, Miss. ( - The family of Frederick Jermaine Carter, who lost his life in a questionable hanging, has taken steps to get the body examined by an outside expert.

“As more and more information is coming in it is becoming even more apparent that this is not a suicide. As soon as we get definitive evidence proving such, then we will decide what the next steps will be,” attorney Valerie Hicks Powe told The Final Call.

Mr. Carter's body was found hanging from an oak tree on Dec. 3 in the predominately-White North Greenwood area of Leflore County. Local authorities ruled it a suicide based upon a preliminary autopsy report from the county coroner's office. The victim's family, Black politicians, residents and community activists have since questioned that declaration.

“They need to find out who did this to Jermaine because he wouldn't do this to himself. He was a great young man and this loss is sad,” said Steven Watson, who attended the same church as the victim.

Betty Petty, who resides in Indianola, Miss., is still in a state of disbelief over the incident. “When I got the news, I was just devastated. From the start I did not believe he killed himself and I still don't. I certainly don't believe he hung himself,” she opined.

Volume 30, No. 11 of The Final Call covering the death of Frederick Jermaine Carter.
Wendol Lee, president of the Memphis-based Operation Help Civil Rights Group, told The Final Call his group is working with others to organize a follow-up press conference and rally in Mississippi.

“These types of acts against our people have to stop. We're going to bus people in from across the state to rally. We want to call for an investigation into Sheriff Ricky Banks for his negligence and for potentially allowing contamination of evidence in this case,” said Mr. Lee. Planning for the date and location for the rally was still underway at Final Call press time.

“If the agenda of the rally is to bring attention to the local sheriff's department, then I am in agreement with it. The family wouldn't be able to attend for legal reasons. But if the sheriff had done his job from the start there would not be a need to converse about a rally,” said Ms. Powe.

Mr. Lee is among the many activists that have visited the scene where Mr. Carter's body was discovered.

“I've visited the scene several times and they still have yet to rope off the area. Our sheriff has not done the job he was supposed to do and there has been no detailed investigation. It continues to be strange that someone who lives 25 plus miles away could find their way in North Greenwood and hang himself, said State Rep. Willie Perkins of the Leflore County NAACP branch.

On Dec. 20, members of the Nation of Islam went to the scene to examine the terrain under the watchful eye of a Black Greenwood deputy, who was called by State Sen. David Jordan to serve as protection for the group.

“It's almost night time and I wouldn't feel comfortable with you all going out there at this time by yourself,” Mr. Jordan told the Muslims following a meeting at Mr. Perkins' office.

“After first hand witnessing the table at the crime scene, the table is not even stable to accommodate any of Frederick's weight and height for even a small length of time to even tie a knot around the tree branch from which he was hung. It is very much possible that Fredrick Jermaine Carter was murdered before he was hung,” said Kareem Ali of the Southaven NOI Study Group.

Larry Muhammad of Greenwood has been working to find the truth from the first day the body was discovered. “We will not stop until the truth is out as to what happened to this brother. We will continue to talk to residents in the area, support the family and organize on a state level,” he said.

“This is a real case of 2010 ‘Strange Fruit.' Our trip to Mississippi was productive but painful. It was painful to see the tree from which my brother was hung, and even more painful to witness the fear of Black people in 2010,” said Deric Muhammad of the Millions More Movement Ministry of Justice in Houston, Texas.

“We want justice, but justice cannot be obtained until the truth of what happened to Frederick Jermaine Carter is established. It will take fearlessness to establish that truth. God and God, alone, should we fear,” he said.

Abdullah Yasin Muhammad, a son of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, has launched an online campaign titled “Stop Legalized Lynching.”

Visitors to the website are being asked to bombard the U.S. Justice Dept. with calls, e-mails and letters asking the Justice Dept. to not only investigate Mr. Carter's death but also other hate crimes. Organizers of the campaign are calling for a march August 2011 in Mississippi and demanding that the Obama administration pass an anti-Lynching bill.

(For more information about the Stop Legalized Lynching campaign, visit or call 1-855-No-Lynch.)

Related news:

Hundreds pack church, remember Mississippi hanging victim (FCN, 12-23-2010)

Community refuses to accept suicide (FCN, 12-23-2010)

Blacks doubt death in small Southern town is a suicide (FCN, 12-16-2010)