News From the National Territory: 215 Secret Graves in Jackson Mississippi

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News From the National Territory: 215 Secret Graves in Jackson Mississippi

numbered grave markers
Numbered posts marking unnamed graves in Mississippi

Within the NAIM, when We think of the Hinds County Mississippi We often think of El-Malik, or many of Our movement elders building independence for Our people in the heart of dixie. On December 18th when NBC News published the identities of 215 buried bodies that had been secretly hidden behind the Hinds County Penal Colony in a ‘Paupers’ graveyard. These 215 people were all buried there between 2016 and December 2023. In total 672 people were buried at this location. Although each of the 215 graves were marked by a metal pole with a number attached indicating unclaimed or unidentified remains, in truth each one of these 215 people were identified by the Hinds County officials and were only unclaimed because officials did not attempt to notify kin of the deceased.

The Wade Family

Of the hundreds of the affected families one of the most striking stories is that of the Wade family, whose matriarch Bettersten Wade was instrumental in bringing the existence of the secret graveyard, next to the jail, to public attention.

In 2019, Jackson pigs pulled over Bettersten’s brother, pulled em out of eir car and slammed em to the ground in such a way that it caused eir death. Eir sister, Bettersten Wade, became a recognizable figure in the local Jackson community as ey waged a relentless public battle to advocate for prosecution of the pigs who were responsible. One of the pigs was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to a mere five years. Subsequently, Bettersten Wade filed a wrongful death suit against the Jackson Police Department, this lawsuit is ongoing and has been highly publicized in the local news.

On 5 March 2023, Bettersten Wade’s 37 year-old son, Dexter Wade, left home with a friend but never returned. Bettersten Wade filed a missing person’s report and continuously contacted Jackson and Hinds County officials for months but never got a reply. Then, five months after the fact, an investigator came to eir home to inform em of Dexter’s death.

The story coming from the pigs is that an hour after leaving home, Dexter was hit by a police vehicle driven by a off-duty pig. The illegitimate authorities claim they’ve been unable to reach Ms. Bettersten Wade for months, despite finding Dexter’s wallet with eir I.D. and Ms. Wade’s address, and with Ms. Wade being a known local figure due to eir struggle against police murder of eir brother. Nevertheless, Dexter’s body was buried behind the jail with the number 672 stuck to the pole. To make matters worse, once Ms. Wade found the burial plot ey was told ey would have to pay $250 to the county to have eir son’s remains retrieved, as eir body was considered property of the state of Mississippi!

Ms. Wade and eir lawyer requested to be present when the body was examined, and ey was denied even that dignity and eir humyn courtesy. Dexter’s remains were not embalmed, nor put in a casket, but were stuck in a bag causing rapid decomposing in a shallow grave. When Ms. Wade and eir lawyer arrived the remains of Dexter had already been dug up, “breaking the chains of custody” necessary to determine Dexter’s actual cause of death.

From the results of a later independent autopsy, Dexter Wade’s body was in advance state of decomposition, showed multiple blunt force injuries to the skull, ribs, and pelvis; in addition eir left leg was completely amputated from eir body. Eir body had been completely ran over by a police vehicle. By secretly burying the body without notifying the family, it makes it unlikely that the official findings of “accidental death” could later be questioned. Number 672 was never meant to be uncovered. But ey was. And the hidden horrors connected to Dexter’s death and burial would subsequently lead to many more families coming forward, finding missing loved ones secretly buried in Pauper’s graveyard behind the prison.

The striking similarities between the Emmett Till murder and attempted cover-up among county and state officials, and this contemporary tragedy highlights the ever present need for programs for decolonization in Jackson and the National Territory more generally. Each tragedy and struggle the people experience in which the inadequacy and/or corruption of the U.$. colonial government can be implicated, is an issue We can organize around to intensify the class struggle for national unity.

Intensify the class struggle for national unity

Our lives depend on it!

Re-Build to win!

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