The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

White Supremacist Richard Barrett Murdered in Mississippi Home

By Sonia Scherr on April 22, 2010 - 6:36 pm, Posted in White Supremacist

Update: Police announced that they arrested Barrett’s neighbor late Thursday afternoon and charged him with murder in connection with Barrett’s slaying. Rankin County Sheriff Ronnie Pennington told The (Jackson, Miss.) Clarion-Ledger that Vincent McGee, 22, had done yard work for Barrett. Barrett was stabbed to death and his body set on fire. Though McGee is black, police have not revealed whether Barrett’s racism played a role in the killing.

Richard Barrett, a longtime white supremacist leader who generated more publicity than influence, was found dead this morning in his Pearl, Miss., home, apparently the victim of a homicide.

Firefighters discovered his body in a bathroom after neighbors reported a fire at Barrett’s home around 8 a.m., according to news reports. Few details have been released about the incident, which is under investigation by local, state and federal authorities.

Though Barrett, a lawyer, never became a major leader in white supremacist circles, he drew substantial press attention by organizing rallies and filing free speech lawsuits. “He was known not only for being one of the hardest of the hard-core haters but a gadfly as well, because of his limited legal knowledge,” said Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernandino. “And he was notorious for claiming legal victories, some of which he never actually won.”

Barrett led the Nationalist Movement, which advocated striking down civil rights laws, and organized white power rallies nationwide. Barrett’s “The Spirit of America Day,” which for 40 years honored high school student athletes, was recognized multiple times by Mississippi lawmakers, most recently in February.

Barrett, 67, had a long history of denigrating minorities, particularly blacks, immigrants and gays. Born in New York City, the Vietnam War veteran launched his efforts on behalf of white Christians when he moved to Mississippi in 1966, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). In his 1982 autobiography, The Commission, he called for resettling minorities groups to “Puerto Rico, Mexico, Israel, the Orient and Africa.” He also argued that “the Negro race … possess[es] no creativity of its own [and] pulls the vitality away from civilization.” And he favored sterilization and abortions of those deemed “unfit.”

During a failed 1984 run for U.S. Congress in which he faced three black candidates, he said voters had to decide between “the cotton boll and three lumps of coal.” (Barrett also ran repeatedly, and unsuccessfully, for governor of Mississippi.)

In 1988, he headed a protest against integration in predominantly white Forsyth County, Ga. Sixty-five mostly out-of-town activists took part, including 40 robed Klansmen. Barrett was among the protestors who signed “The Forsyth County Covenant,” which argued for the advancement of “America’s heritage as a free, white, Christian, English-speaking democracy” and asserted that “all efforts to make us a bilingual, bisexual or biracial society must be defeated.” That same year, he worked with two racist leaders of the National States Rights Party to organize a pro-white demonstration at the Democratic National Convention in Atlanta.

He also led rallies in Atlanta against the Martin Luther King Day holiday; in California (twice) in support of the Los Angeles Police Department officers acquitted of assaulting Rodney King; in Boston after a St. Patrick’s Day parade was cancelled when a court forbade the exclusion of gay groups; and in Morristown, N.J., to commemorate “Independence from Affirmative Action Day.” Each time only a handful of followers showed up, but the events attracted large crowds of counter-demonstrators and received considerable media attention. In 2003, he successfully sued York, Pa., after the city initially refused to give the Nationalist Movement a permit to hold a rally.

Barrett reached out to young skinheads in December 1988 when he hosted a weekend of paramilitary training in Learned, Miss., according to the ADL. The few teenagers who attended tried to hit a picture of Martin Luther King Jr. during target practice, the Jackson Clarion-Ledger reported. In recent years, Barrett ran an online forum for skinheads, despite criticizing the violence of certain extremists groups.

Barrett also campaigned on behalf of several 1960s-era murderers. After Byron de la Beckwith was convicted in 1994 of killing civil rights leader Medgar Evers, Barrett circulated a petition and led a march seeking a pardon from the Mississippi governor. (Another purpose of the march was to support a high school principal who lost his job after saying he would cancel the senior prom rather than allow interracial couples to attend.) In 2004, Barrett tried to sponsor a booth at the Mississippi State Fair backing Edgar Ray Killen, the former Klan leader who was found guilty of manslaughter in connection with the deaths of three civil rights workers. And in fall 2008, he planned a Louisville rally in support of James Forde Seale, who was convicted of facilitating the Klan murder of two black teenagers.

Barrett marched on Martin Luther King Day in January 2008 in Jena, La., to deride King and the six black teenagers subjected to harsh prosecutions for an attack on a white student. The marchers chanted slogans such as, “If it ain’t white, it ain’t right.”

  • Siena Kendall

    I believe he had a right to life, speech and action no matter how he chose to express himself.

    He embodied the worst side of this country that we really shouldn’t forget is still there and very active in our institutions.

    Sounds like he inspired a lot of people to rally for what’s right….

    How can you create peace with violence?

  • Timothy McLendon

    It takes so much of a person’s energy and time to hate; furthermore at what cost? I don’t believe in murder, but I do believe in defending myself.

    I wonder if the public will ever know the facts on barrett’s death. What really happen?

    What a sad little man that was full of hate and anguish. Good day all!

  • Alan Aardman

    This man was a gross violator of human standards of decency, but murder is not the answer. The solution to extremists such as Barret is to create a society which will condemn their hateful ideas to obscurity.

  • Shadow Wolf

    SkinnyMinny,
    I won’t dispute what you said. Whether the man actually believed in his work or not. But he will always be judged based on his character, his works and the life he lived. And I think its fair to say that he wasn’t well liked by pretty much everyone except for the few of his own.

  • Aristarchus

    I am so glad that we are all in agreement that evil must be punished.

  • skinnyminny

    Shadow Wolf,

    I read that too! I guess you can say that I am more concerned with the victims of hate crimes. If Mr. Barrett had told his followers not to go out and attack people due to their race-maybe I would have sympathy for him! Believe me, there’s no hard feelings with you, I’m just saying for me, I can’t accept this as an excuse. Example, Charles Manson had the Manson girls go out commit crimes. I guess what I’m saying is, whether he did it for fame, power, money, there are innocent victims left behind. I personally don’t like to glorify people that cause so much pain and losses to others. I believe his work will used in the future – and I believe his followers will continue his work and goals.

  • Difluoroethane

    Apparently, John Lee Clary (a former white nationalist who is now an anti-racist activist) has a photo of Barrett with his arm around Edgar Ray Killen, a convicted murderer. There is some other interesting information about Barrett here: http://www.johnnyleeclary.com/racists.htm

  • Shadow Wolf

    According to Charles Evers, the brother of slain NAACP leader of Jackson(Medger Evers) who had known Barrett a long time, believed that Barrett didn’t believed in the stuff he said. Like Hal Turner, he was probably doing this for a living:

    http://www.azcentral.com/news/.....-dead.html

    So in other words, he didn’t had his heart put into the WN causes he put forth. Whether WNs believed him or not, his “movement” can best be described as a sham.

  • skinnyminny

    IValueAmerica,

    I’m not sure if you understand what this man represented! Not many people are sad he is gone, nor the way his life ended. This man had a problem with Brown v. Board of Education, he had rallies in Black neighborhoods, represented the cops in the Rodney King beating, he was working on trying to deny certain voters the ability to vote, and the way I see it-he was working on a new genocide, he was alleged to be the leader of the skinheads – not sure if his site is still up at nationalist.org

  • Difluoroethane

    Looks like race was _not_ a factor in the the murder. There is, however, some disagreement as to what the actual motive is; here is a link with more: http://www.wlbt.com/Global/story.asp?S=12367018

  • Jennifer

    Why would anyone care if such an abhorrent creature dies. Any such extreme hater, be he/she black, white, yellow or pink, is no loss to anyone worthwhile. These types are a scourge on all that is decent.

  • Difluoroethane

    Looks like you’re right, Yama: James Edwards recently posted an essay attempting to use the Barrett murder to stir up more racial hatred. These white supremacists are so predictable.

  • IValueAmerica

    A fitting end to a troubled man.

    However, I do NOT think Stephen Childs is correct.

    Murder is wrong and it does not matter if it was a monster like this or Dr. Tiller.

    There is no excuse to take a life but in direct self defense. Rejoicing over his death is one thing, I do not shed a tear for this montster, but condoning violence is a failure to America, no matter if you are left or right, black or white.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Unlikely. Barret made many enemies in the movement. He had a definition of “white” which was very different than those of most WNs.

  • daemonesslisa

    One People’s Project reports that they found a suspect. But like Terreblache’s murder, the suspect apparently had no connection.

    http://www.onepeoplesproject.com

  • Yama

    They already have.

  • Difluoroethane

    One wonders if his followers are going to try and paint him as a “martyr”, as Eugene Terreblanche’s followers did a few weeks ago.

  • Mike Batey

    Is this justfied you ask?

  • Shadow Wolf

    Bad karma got to him. I am willing to wager it that his murder was a result of a dispute between him and another White hatemonger. History has shown us that White Supremacist leaders are almost 95% of the time, more likely to be murdered by their fellow Whites. We saw this same fate happened to George Lincoln Rockwell. Being a White Supremacist leader, you have a greater chance of being killed. We saw this happened to the racist leader of South Africa. Being an abhorrent White Supremacist is wrong. The Americans will not stand with these racist White beast of the far Right.

  • Difluoroethane

    The high school principal mentioned in the second-to-last paragraph was Hulond Humphries. Read more about him here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hulond_Humphries

  • http://www.awakenedawareness.net Steven L Childs

    Was this indeed a murder? Perhaps there is a higher law called Karma? Is anyone surprised?