Monthly Archives: February 1976

1976.02.01: Stop Gary’s Murder (Red Tide)

[Historical Note: The Red Tide was a revolutionary high school underground newspaper and youth organization that existed from 1971-1981. See: http://theredtide.wordpress.com/%5D

Red Tide #21, February-March 1976
Stop Gary’s Murder
By Michael Long [Michael Letwin]

Seventeen year old Gary Tyler is scheduled to be killed in the electric chair in Louisiana in a couple of months. To the state of Louisiana, it doesn’t matter a bit that Gary didn’t have anything to do with the murder he’s accused of.

But it’s not the first time that a young black person has been found guilty by an all white jury, especially in the South. And it’s not the first time that a state has framed a black person without any real evidence and an unbelievable story.

Gary Tyler is accused of the murder of a white student at Destrehan High School in October, 1974. What was happening at the high school on that day in October is now a common scene in many cities. White racist students and parents were throwing rocks and bottles at the black students.

Black students were put on buses to get them off campus. While this was going on, a shot rang out and a white student fell dead. Gary was one of the black students who had gotten on the bus to get away from the racist crowd. After the shot was fired, the bus was evacuated and searched. No gun was found there. But Gary and some other black students were held for questioning anyway.

POLICE GUN FOUND

It wasn’t until the bus was driven to a police station that a .45 gun was “found” by the cops, who then claimed that it was hidden in a seat that had been slashed open by a knife. There were no witnesses other than the cops who saw the gun being found. It just so happened that the gun itself came from the police firing range. It hadn’t been reporting missing until it was “found” on the bus.

THE ALL-WHITE JURY AGREED

The police also came up with a witness from the bus who claimed that Gary had fired the shot. Three other witnesses, including the bus driver, said that Gary had not fired the shot. But none of this stopped the state from prosecuting or the all-white jury from finding Gary guilty of first degree murder. Even the fact that Gary had been searched by police minutes before getting on the bus didn’t matter. The jury took all of three hours to convict Gary of this obviously trumped up charge.

THE KLAN STEPS IN

But the jurors were not the only ones who wanted Gary’s ass. On the day of the shooting, David Duke, leader of the Ku Klux Klan, flew all the way back from Boston, where he had been leading racist “anti-busing” demonstrations. Duke and the Klan held press conferences whose purpose was to whip up lynch fever in Destrehan. The Klan and the state of Louisiana are working hand in hand to murder Gary Tyler.

GARY’S NOT ALONE

There have been thousands of Gary Tylers over the years. Many have been executed or put in prison. Some have been freed by the protests and demands of poor and working people.

Joann Little, a black woman, was charged with killing the white jailer who was trying to rape her. She was freed after massive support of people all across the country was built. A campaign to free Ruben “Hurricane” Carter is mounting. Hurricane, like Gary Tyler, was put away by an all-white jury for a crime he could not possibly have committed.

Gary Tyler can be freed, but only if we build a movement to free him and others in the same situation. Join the fight now. Stop the murder, Gary Tyler must go free!

Money and support can be sent directly to The Gary Tyler Defense Fund, at the Liberty Bank in New Orleans.

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1976.02.00: Music Review: Gil-Scott Heron From S. Africa to S. Carolina (Red Tide)

Red Tide #24
February-March 1976

Music Review: Gil-Scott Heron From S. Africa to S. Carolina
by Michael Long [Michael Letwin]

Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson’s FROM SOUTH AFRICA TO SOUTH CAROLINA (Arista 4044) has been out for along time now, but it has not gotten the attention it deserves.

This album is musically beautiful, being a combination of soul and jazz. But the most important and heavy thing about it is the lyrics[,] which describe the situation of black people “from South Africa to South Carolina.”

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SAME STRUGGLE

The point of the album is to relate the struggles of poor blacks across the world so that everyone can understand that it is really the same struggle. It comes through in the hit song of the album, “Johannesburg.”

“They tell me that our brothers over there are defyin’ the man. I don’t know for sure because the news we get is unreliable, man. Well I hate it when the blood starts flowin’, but I’m glad to see resistance growing. . . . I know that their strugglin’ ain’t gonna free me. But we’ve got to start strugglin’ if we wanna be free!”

Johannesburg may be a major city in South Africa, but Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson know that whether the poor in Africa win has a lot to do with what happens in this country. It is a song of solidarity across thousands of miles. And a heavy thing about this song is that it made the top of the charts and was on the radio, despite its political message. Usually[,] songs like that aren’t on the radio a whole lot because of their politics.

BRINGING IT ALL HOME

“A Toast to the People” brings the struggle right back home with[,] “And ever since we came to this land, this country has rued the day, when [we] would stand as one and raise our voices and say: You know there won’t be no more killings and no more talk of class; your sons and your daughters won’t die in the hour glass.”

DON’T LOOK BACK

The next song on the album is “The Summer of ’42.” Thank god it isn’t like all of the other garbage that has come out of that theme. The song shows that nostalgia for black people in this country is something that very few people are interested in. The oppression of black people is the “nostalgia” that no black person wants to celebrate.

They say, “Gotta move on, gotta see tomorrow, gotta move on, gotta get ahead. Can’t look back, there’s nothing there but sorrow. Gotta move on, get ahead. . . . You seem like you’re wishin’ you could undo everything that’s happened since the summer of ’42. What you call nostalgia really ain’t what I’m after. . . . If all the rednecks that you know like George Wallace should suddenly change their minds or claimed they did, Tell me could you relate to them and vote for them after all this time?. . . . what you call reminiscing ain’t what my life’s been missing.”

“Beginnings” is one of the most beautiful songs of the album, being a calm, slow and mellow song. It deals with the fact that black people are often trying just to survive, “We want to be free, and yet we have no idea why we are struggling here, faced with our every fear, just to survive.”

SOUTH CAROLINA

Another heavy song is “Johannesburg’s” counterpart, “South Carolina.” South Carolina is not unlike South Africa in many ways[,] as the song points out:

“I heard they buildin’ a factory down in South Carolina with a death potential uncontrolled by government designers. It will house atomic wastes and be a constant reminder that they’re buildin’ a great big bomb that’s tickin’ in South Carolina. Whatever happened to the protests and the rage? Whatever happened to the voices of the sane? Whatever happened to the people who gave a damn? Or does that just apply to dyin’ in the jungles of Viet Nam?. . . . They could take a million lives. . . . They got no respect for human life in South Carolina.”

Well, it’s true. Even though millions of people fought in this country to end a murderous war being carried on by the US against the Vietnamese people, there’s not a movement that can deal with the situation in this country. Yet.

But whether Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson know it yet or not, there is a movement growing. Not only of black people, but of whites and everyone else. And it isn’t just students on college campuses this time. It’s workers in their factories, mines, warehouses and trucks who will turn this country upside down.

[Historical Note: The Red Tide was a revolutionary high school underground newspaper and youth organization that existed from 1971-1981. See: http://theredtide.wordpress.com/%5D]