Chicago, James “Hawk” Rasco decides its time
to return home, to his native soil - Mississippi. Now, he was returning to Scott
County with his family. Rasco’s nephew
ran a nightclub - in dry Scott
County. The nephew, along with other
Black nightclub owners, paid the sheriff in order to sell
alcohol. The sheriff was Glenn Warren, otherwise known as the
“High White Sheriff.”
things do change but only slightly. Years later, an FBI
investigation landed Sheriff Warren in a courtroom and ultimately
in prison. Rasco’s nephew ends up turning state’s evidence against
“High White Sheriff.” James Rasco buys the nightclub after the
nephew enters the witness protection program.
sometimes things tragically remain the same. Enters Deputy Sheriff
Marvin Williams - “Black!” Sheriff Williams is angry. He believes
Rasco, the new owner of the nightclub, should continue business
as usual. Show Me The Money! James Rasco refuses.
Williams tells Rasco that he will get him! I will get you one
way or the other, even through your daughters!
have to remember that Frantz Fanon tells us there’s the violence
of the perpetrators and there’s the violence of resisters. The
violence of the former disrupts human potential while the later
disrupts tyranny motivated by hate. Who was Marvin Williams
really? In this narrative, what does he represent?
Scott sisters, stop by a local store. It is December 23, 1993.
Jamie (22) and Gladys (19) Scott, two young mothers, have run
out of heating fuel. They drive to the local store in town. But
when they exit the store, the car will not start up!
women decide to leave the car and begin walking home when they
hear voices. There are two Black men, cousins, in their 20s, known
as the Duckworth men. Gladys
recognizes one of them from the chicken plant where she and Jamie
work. The Duckworth cousins offer to take the women home. Jamie,
however, pays the men $10 dollars.
the ride home was far from pleasant. According to Jamie, one of
the men began touching her. The women exit the car and started
walking home. Again, Jamie and Gladys here a commotion from behind
them, but they don’t stop.
and Gladys finally arrive home. Soon, three young men, 2 brothers
and a cousin, known as the Patrick Men, knock at their door. The
Patrick Men, 14, 16, and 18 years old, tell the sisters that the
two Duckworth men started a fight with them. That’s it.
Christmas Eve. Morning.
a knock at the Scott sisters’ door. It’s Sheriff Marvin Williams.
He’s come to arrest Jamie and Gladys!
Marvin Williams had a story to tell the court, the residents of
Scott County, and the media...
he has to work on it!
the sisters are charged with conspiracy to rob the Duckworth men
of $9-11 dollars, but Sheriff Williams has a little talk with
the Duckworth cousins and the Patrick Men. The “victims” (one
with 3 convictions for DWI) point to the Scott sisters. The Patrick
Men (one if not two of them with previous run-ins with the law),
threatened by Sheriff Williams with time at Parchman prison, where
they would “be made out of women” if they didn’t cooperate and
single out the Scott sisters, agreed. It was the Scott sisters!
Now, according to Sheriff Williams, the Scott sisters robbed the
older men of $200 - at gun point! Armed robbery!
Patrick Men confessed to the robbery, but why let truth get in
the way of a good story!
gun was never located, and the “stolen” wallet was recovered in
streets, according to an affidavit by a trustee of the jail. The
wallet “re-appeared” 2 days later with a photo ID of the “victim”
and $60 dollars! This same trustee also claims that the “armed
robbery” never happened. Only later, in affidavits, did the “victims”
and the Patrick Men confessed to being coerced and threatened
by Sheriff Marvin Williams.
But this is a narrative of violence, of vengeance
and not of justice.
Family-hired lawyers advised Jamie and Gladys not to testify, and there were
several potential witnesses to the character and innocence of
the Scott sisters. But, only one will do or not! Five witnesses
in court told conflicting stories, but all declared that Jamie
and Gladys are innocent.
the judge? Judge Marcus Gordon has a bit of a history, American
history. In 1964, 3 civil rights workers, Schwerner, Chaney, and
Goodman were found dead. Edgar Ray Killens was found guilty for
the murder of these 3 men - in 2005! Guess who was the judge?
Killens, an old KKK organizer, was charged with 3 counts of manslaughter
(not murder) and sentenced to 20 years in prison for each
why bother about this history!
Sheriff Williams has his revenge. The jury deliberates for 36
minutes and the verdict: Guilty! Jamie and Gladys both received
double life sentences! And the sisters do not possess any
Narratives of violence ensnarl people of color and
effectively disrupt the lives as well as the well being of women
children grew up without the care and attention of their mothers
for the last 14 years. One sister gave birth in prison!
those 14 years, James Rasco dies of a heart attack. Both Sheriffs
Warren and Williams are also dead.
these Black women? Their safety depends on their silence! They
linger in fear.
How many Black women, Black mothers, innocent, linger
behind bars in the United
States? How many have stories that are invisible,
absent from the discourse on incarceration and injustice?
Davis writes, Mumia Abu Jamal recalls, that once communism was
no longer “the quintessential enemy” in the U.S.,
it was replaced “by ideological constructions of crime, drugs,
immigration, and welfare.” Of course, she writes, “the enemy within
is far more dangerous than the enemy without, and a black enemy
within is the most dangerous of all.”
Can you imagine Jamie and Gladys as white women framed
by a Black or a white sheriff?
Rasco has been fighting for her daughters’ release the last 14
years. Rasco lost her husband and an older daughter who died of
congenital heart failure in 2001. This daughter left behind a
5 year old child. In these last 14 years, Rasco has tried to be
the grandmother and the mother of 10 children (includes grandchildren
of Jamie and Gladys) while sustaining the battle to free her two
remaining daughters from prison.
of those 14 years, Rasco wrote letters to Operation Push / Rainbow
Coalition. No response. She writes to Congressman Jesse Jackson
Jr. asking him to submit a letter to Push / Rainbow. The congressman
submits this letter to Nancy Lockhart at Push / Rainbow. Lockhart,
working on a Masters in Jurisprudence at Loyola University Chicago
at the time, contacted Evelyn Rasco.
discovers that Rasco not only wrote letters to Operation Push
/ Rainbow Coalition without ever receiving a response, but in
1998 and 1999, Jamie and Gladys Scott appealed to the Innocence
Project in Mississippi and in New Orleans.
contacted the Innocence Project to ask why the organization refuses
to respond to the Scotts.
ACLU refuses to respond to the case.
longer with Operation Push / Rainbow Coalition, Nancy Lockhart
has dedicated her full attention to the Scott sisters’ case. As
a Volunteer Legal Analyst for the Committee to Free the Scott
Sisters, Lockhart has worked on the Scott sisters’ case without
financial resources for the last 4 years. For Lockhart, the case
represents a wrongful conviction.
and Lockhart have both written to the U.S.
department of Justice Civil Rights Division. And only recently
did Rasco receive a response!
the response from Steven Harrell, Paralegal Specialist:
section - PHB
Washington, DC 20530
is in response to your letter post marked February 13, 2009, in
which you allege that Jamie and Gladys Scott were wrongfully convicted
of armed robbery in 1994. You further allege that, in order to
obtain this conviction, local law enforcement officers intimidated
a witness. We apologize for our delay in responding.
Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division is responsible for
enforcing federal criminal civil rights statutes. Much of our
enforcement activity relates to the investigation and prosecution
of deprivations of civil rights under color of law. These matters
generally involve allegations of excessive physical force or sexual
abuse by law enforcement officers.
note that federal criminal civil rights laws have a five year
statute of limitations from the date of the incident. Since the
incident in question occurred in 1994, we regret that we are unable
to assist you. This is not a judgment on the truth or merit of
your complaint, it is simply to inform you that, because the relevant
statute of limitations has expired, this office can not prosecute
as you feel that Jamie and Gladys Scott were wrongly convicted,
you may wish to contact The Innocence Project, a national organization
dedicated to the exoneration of the wrongly convicted. You may
contact the Innocence Project by sending correspondence to [email protected]
Mark J. Kappelhoff
Civil Rights Division
this is untrue, as Mrs. Rasco started writing the Civil Rights
Division 14 years ago,” Lockhart says.
Mrs. Rasco initially started writing the Justice
Department in 1994. She has not passed any statutory limits. The
response that she has received is an untruth. She has written
many times and the previous responses have been, “your information
will be forwarded to the correct department.” She has written
the Criminal Division of the Civil Rights Department as well.
also contacted Attorney General, Eric Holder, and as of the writing
of this article, Lockhart has not received a response.
also sent a letter to President Barack Obama. No response.
October 2008, Nancy Lockhart hears Rev. Al Sharpton’s voice on
the radio. She calls in and tells him the Scott sisters’ story.
Sharpton says, “That sounds like the Troy Davis.” Lockhart reminded
him that situation with the Scott Sisters is different. Davis was on Death Row. “Let me give you to my
assistant so we can get in touch with you,” Sharpton says. The
“assistant” is someone from a consultant firm. Someone will contact
Lockhart waits for a call from the National Action Network (NAN).
Time passes, again, and Lockhart calls NAN.
She is told to contact a Mrs. Davis, and she is told to call at
10 a.m. the next day. “I called every day for two weeks at 10
a.m.” Lockhart sent information to Mrs. Davis, but she never heard
from Mrs. Davis again. A
month passed. Months pass. Finally, in April 2009, Lockhart receives
a call from NAN or rather the consultant firm, informing her that
there is a chapter in Louisiana.
Lockhart is given a couple of numbers call.
Lockhart has to call NAN again. The numbers are useless. “One was a fax number and the other
was a disconnected number,” recalls Lockhart. The consultant tells
Lockhart that there are other chapters. Which is closest to Mississippi
- Savannah, Georgia
or Atlanta, Georgia, Mrs. Davis asks?
I need to say that, in the end, Rev. Al Sharpton and the National
Action Network are missing in action!
are we? You do not have to remain silent!
The Case of the Scott Sisters was featured along with other important
information regarding the Mississippi
wrongfully convicted on the May 22, 2009, on One Black
Man’s View radio program! Just scroll down to Event Description,
highlight the first item for May 22, 2009 and click the second
button on the left to play and listen. So please visit http://blacktalkradio.ning.com/events/one-black-mans-view-5222009?rsvpConfirm=1
and please visit http://www.blogtalkradio.com/justiceforall/2009/04/16/Scott-Sisters-Sentenced-to-Double-Life-No-One-Died-or-Was-Hospitalized
and share so that others can understand fully what this case is
Nancy Lockhart has provided a sample letter to be sent to Attorney
General Eric Holder:
General Eric Holder
Department of Justice
Washington, DC 20530-0001
Honorable Attorney General
am writing to request that you investigate the case of Jamie and
Gladys Scott. The Scott Sisters were given double life sentences
each in October of 1994 for armed
robbery in the state of Mississippi.
No one was injured or murdered. One witness states that about
11 dollars was netted in the armed robbery. All witnesses and
victims of this crime have testified that the Scott Sisters were
not involved in the robbery. Witnesses testified that they were
coerced and threatened to lie on the Scott Sisters.
14 year old witness testified that he signed a statement which
was prepared for him before he entered Deputy Sheriff Marvin Williams’
Office. This statement was signed by the 14 year old without an
attorney present. He was told that he would be released from the
local jail the next morning if he signed it. He was not released.
is an egregious wrongful conviction
and the Scott Sisters have suffered now 14 years 8 months
of double life sentences.
and Gladys Scott are housed in Pearl, Mississippi. Their ID
numbers are Jamie Scott #19197 and Gladys Scott # 19142.
to discuss strategies to organize the release of Jamie and Gladys
Scott, to sign the petition, and to donate to the Committee to
Free the Scott Sisters, please contact:
Volunteer Legal Analyst
Committee to Free the Scott Sisters
641-715-3900 - ext. 99222
BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board member, Lenore Jean Daniels, PhD,
has been a writer, for over thirty years of commentary, resistance
criticism and cultural theory, and short stories with a Marxist
sensibility to the impact of cultural narrative violence and its
antithesis, resistance narratives. With entrenched dedication
to justice and equality, she has served as a coordinator of student
and community resistance projects that encourage the Black Feminist
idea of an equalitarian community and facilitator of student-teacher
communities behind the walls of academia for the last twenty years.
Dr. Daniels holds a PhD in Modern American Literatures, with a
specialty in Cultural Theory (race, gender, class narratives)
from Loyola University,
Chicago. Click here
to contact Dr. Daniels.