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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