You may remember Mr. Barrett from the Jena Six protests. (See: Jena 6 Targeted By Hate Groups, from NPR). According to USA Today, Barrett and the Nationalist Movement were represented by Alexandria attorney Greg Aymond. A few weeks ago, Mr. Barrett was brutally murdered by one of his neighbors.
Background, from MyFoxMemphis:
At the arraignment in Rankin County Court, Undersheriff Bryan Bailey testified that McGee gave several statements to investigators.
In one statement, Bailey testified that McGee told officers that he went to Barrett’s house to get on the computer to look up his Facebook account and Barrett made sexual advances toward him.
In another statement, Bailey said McGee went to the house to confront Barrett about some money owed him for yard work and that Barrett dropped his pants and asked him to perform a sexual act. It was then, Bailey said, that McGee told investigators that he hit and stabbed Barrett.
Bailey said when the body was found, Barrett had on underwear, the tattered remnants of a T-shirt and had a belt tied around one wrist.
County Judge Kent McDaniel ordered the case against McGee to be presented to the next grand jury, which meets in June. McDaniel said McGee would remain in the county jail without bond.
Barrett, a New York City native and Vietnam War veteran, moved to Mississippi in 1966, just before he founded a group called the Nationalist Movement. He ran the group from an office in the small rural town of Learned, about 20 miles southwest of Jackson. He also ran a school for skinheads.
Barrett was known for traveling the country promoting segregationist views.
Sheriff Ronnie Pennington said Barrett lived in a racially mixed neighborhood and was often gone for long periods.
Authorities said McGee lived near Barrett and had done yard work for him.
Richard Barrett was the worst sort of racist – the kind who had the native intelligence and education to know better. Barrett was, in is own twisted way, a true intellectual. He was a gifted orator and debater.
He brought a theatrical sense of showmanship to his white supremacist road show. And more than perhaps any trait I came to recognize in Barrett, he was a stone publicity junkie.
What Barrett wasn’t – ever – in the three decades I observed his activities was violent. Unlike most of the Klansmen I’ve encountered, Barrett’s racism was of the non-violent variety.
The investigation into Barrett’s murder will continue, but I will be shocked if this turns out to be anything remotely related to a hate crime. Barrett was confrontational only when the TV cameras were rolling.
Today, this reporter told CNN, “It was known in white supremacist circles that he (Barrett) was gay.”
From the Southern Poverty Law Center:
Barrett was long rumored to be gay in white supremacist circles. Several days after his death, the proprietor of the leading white supremacist web forum, Stormfront, called him “an obvious old queen.” “Ask anyone who ever met him,” Don Black wrote in a Stormfront post. “Or just visit his website, with all the shirtless skinhead pics he’d pulled from a gay skinhead site.”
Barrett was known for reaching out to young men and in recent years ran an online forum for skinheads. In December 1988, he hosted a weekend of paramilitary training for skinheads in Learned, Miss., according to the Anti-Defamation League. The few teenagers who attended tried to hit a picture of Martin Luther King Jr. during target practice, the Jackson Clarion-Ledger reported. He also hosted “The Spirit of America Day,” which for 40 years honored male high school athletes. The event was recognized repeatedly by Mississippi lawmakers, most recently in February.
Barrett and McGee had known each other for years. They lived in the same mixed-race neighborhood, just a few houses apart. What you should know about McGee is that he has a history. He was in prison for five years for assaulting a police officer and was just released in February. His face is covered with tattoos connecting him to the Vice Lords street gang. Police arrested him after they say they found sneakers with soot on them and the top to a gas can in the carport at McGee’s parents’ home, where he lives. The gas can top matched the gas can found at the scene of the crime. Investigators also later recoverd a bloody knife.
Mark Potok with the Southern Poverty Law Center, who follows hate crimes and the white supremaicst movement, told us “if in fact McGee was propositioned, approached in that way, by Barrett, he might have been beyond shocked, he might have been repelled in a way that went beyond some kind of shock.”
But Potok says nobody should be surprised that a white supremacist would proposition an African American. He says being gay is one of the greatest hypocrisies among white supremacists. “It is unbelievably common in the white supremacist world to find people who are desperately anti-gay but secretly gay….We’ve seen a good number of white supremacist leaders who have actually been tossed out of the movement when it was found that they were in fact engaged in gay relationships with men,” Potok said.