SAN JOSE, CA—Billie Holiday sang in 1939: “Southern trees bear a strange fruit, blood on the leaves and blood at the root.”
Recently, suspicious deaths of African-American men have occurred in the South and across the US. When victims are discovered hanging – their deaths rapidly termed “suicide” – families call for answers. On Feb. 21, 2012, ID TV exposed this in “The Injustice Files: at the End of a Rope.”
In San Jose CA, Gregory Johnson, Jr. (nicknamed “Junior”) was reported found on Nov. 22, 2008, hanging from a pipe in the Sigma Chi fraternity where he lived.
No adequate investigation of Johnson’s death occurred. As the house was connected to San Jose State University, campus police–ill equipped to investigate a possible murder–took charge. They never called on the San Jose police.
Campus cops made inquiries only when pressured by Junior’s mother, Denise Johnson, delaying most significant interviews until February 2009. Questions asked of witnesses were designed to buttress the suicide theory.
Questions arose about the autopsy. Although bags were placed on Junior’s hands, the bags were discarded at the autopsy. Also, the report does not indicate that any x-rays were taken. Denise said Junior’s skull was cracked, and there were no ligature marks on his neck.
The campus police report that Johnson (6’2” tall) was hanging from a pipe which is only 5’10” high. The family feels suicide was impossible, as Junior was supposedly found in a seated position, his buttocks only 6” off the floor.
Like any mother, Denise struggles to find out what happened. The campus police provided a copy of their report—with several pages and all photographs missing. The autopsy report was provided—again no photographs. The FBI checked on the case but took no action. Denise tried to obtain FBI reports. Although the FBI told her there were 300 pages, she received only ten. This mother deserves answers and a real investigation.
Denise said, “There is no good reason for the coroner, police, and FBI to withhold photographs and reports. I don’t have a college education, but I do have common sense. I feel shame not for my wonderful son but for the due process that has been denied me for four years and counting.” See http://strangefruitatsigmachi.com/.
Not only for Denise, but for everyone, having the police investigate a suspicious death is a civil right and a decent standard of justice. If someone’s child is found hanging, the family deserves a thorough investigation.
The “Injustice Files” exposed suspicious “suicides” of hanged black men which may have been lynchings. One 60-year-old man was found hanged about 35 feet off the ground in a tree. As a fascist culture is created, is lynching again showing its ugly face in America? All of us have to do everything we can to stop it.
If people know of similar cases, please email or write the People’s Tribune, and send letters of support to the People’s Tribune for Denise Johnson to have her son’s death reopened and investigated.