Ten years after James Byrd
Black man dragged to death in Texas
Published Oct 30, 2008 11:23 PM
Brandon McClelland’s dismembered body was found Sept. 16 in the middle of
a Paris, Texas, road. Three days later, according to the young Black
man’s mother, bits of his skull could still be found on the road where he
The 24-year-old man was killed by two white men, Shannon Keith Finley and
Charles Ryan Crostley, who are alleged to have been friends of his. The white
men ran Mr. McClelland down with their truck and dragged his body more than 40
According to the story of the two white men, they had an argument with
McClelland after having driven across Texas/Oklahoma state lines to get beer.
When Mr. McClelland got out of the car to walk home, the two white men ran him
down with their truck, trapping and dragging his body in the undercarriage.
The murder is similar to the lynching of James Byrd Jr., who was tied to a
truck by his ankles and dragged for miles by three white supremacists. That
incident occurred in Jasper, Texas, on Sept. 16, 1998—10 years, to the
day, of McClelland’s death. Jasper is about 200 miles south of Paris.
The lynching of Byrd sparked an international outcry and many protests. It
thrust the New Black Panther Party into the spotlight, when the group announced
a march through Jasper to defend the Black community there against a threatened
march by white supremacists.
Paris authorities have asserted that the killing had nothing to do with race.
Stacy McNeal, the Texas Ranger in charge of the investigation, said, “I
don’t see how it was racial, being as how they were good
However, McClelland’s family, Black residents of the town and activists
with the New Black Panther Party, the Nation of Islam, the NAACP and the
Millions More Movement believe differently.
The killing occurred around 4 a.m. on Sept. 16, and initially it was declared a
hit and run. According to a Free Speech Radio report, authorities told the
McClelland family that a gravel truck had killed Brandon. Crostley and Finley
had tried to cover up the incident by washing the blood off their truck and
hiding it from sight.
It appears to many that not only were Crostley and Finley trying to cover up
their malicious act, but that local and state authorities want to hide the
reality of life for the small Texas city’s Black inhabitants.
It wouldn’t take a lengthy search to uncover the racism that exists in
Paris. In 2006, a 14-year-old young Black woman named Shaquanda Cotton was
handed down a juvenile court sentence that could have led to her spending seven
years in detention for pushing a hall monitor. Many juxtaposed Cotton’s
sentence to that of a young white woman, whom the same judge sentenced to
probation for burning down her family home.
McClelland’s family and activists will continue to fight for justice and
that the men responsible for his death be charged with a hate crime.
Jacqueline McClelland, Brandon’s mother, was questioned by the district
attorney’s office as to why she spoke with Jesse Muhammad, a writer for
the Final Call, who broke the story. Ms. McClelland told Muhammad: “I
have lost my son. What do I have to lose now? I am going to keep on pushing. I
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