Rolling out magazine talked exclusively to the head of the Texas Branch of the NAACP, Gary Bledsoe, regarding the Alfred Wright murder. Bledsoe stated we should also be concerned about many other fairly recent unsolved killings of blacks in the Jasper, Texas area.
What has been the Texas NAACP reaction to the Alfred Wright murder?
We are extremely concerned not only over Mr. Wright’s murder, but because of the other suspicious deaths of African Americans in the area. These are blacks who have died under circumstances that suggest that there might be a racial component to these killings. As a result of this, we have met with federal authorities and are trying to get them to take certain steps. But at the same time we (NAACP) are also conducting our own formal investigation to get to the bottom of these killings. We have a local branch there on the ground in Jasper that our state agency has been working with as well as various officials in different areas.
You say there have been several killings. Can you give me a figure?
At least 16-17. Also recently there was a young African American male and his mother who had disappeared over a year ago and they just found their bodies several months ago. The community has also been on edge because of the firing of the African American police chief who they found out had a white wife. That created a firestorm.
That was in 2012?
Yes. But look at the 2011 rigged elections, which was a huge issue. But besides that there was the execution of one of the murderers of James Byrd, Jr. Ever since then there has been a real backlash from many people who are racist in nature.
Sabine County is not exactly Jasper, Texas. How far away is Jasper from these murders?
All of these crimes have been committed in communities right next door to Jasper, no more than 30-40 minutes away in many cases. These areas for example are in Woodville, Center and Shelby Counties, all areas around Jasper.