Inside the chaos of the uprising, Black and white leaders were trying to quell the violence. As rioters set fire to white-owned businesses, police officers were told to shoot to kill. In this episode, we tell the stories of the six Black men killed by white police officers. The victims, who were all shot in the back, would be remembered as The Augusta Six.
Shots In The Back (Episode 4): Shoot To Kill
CORONER REPORTS FOR EACH OF THE SIX VICTIMS:
Host: A warning to our listeners, this episode contains graphic descriptions of violence. If you are just joining our podcast, go back to the beginning. It is a more powerful story if you do.
Previously on "Shots in the Back."
Grady Abrams: You can't stop a riot.
Cecilia Johnson: And I just looked at him, and I said: "Would you kill me?"
Louis Dinkins: He said, "What happened him?" And I said, "I shot him."
Claude Harris: Now, we really don't care if we hurt you or not. We gonna hurt what you love the most — things.
James Carter: And I never dreamed in my life that I'd see tanks coming down my street, with a guy standing up in the hold of the tank with a machine gun at the ready.
Host: From Jessye Norman School of the Arts and Georgia Public Broadcasting, this is "Shots in the Back: Exhuming the 1970 Agusta Riot." I'm your host Sea Stachura.
Archival Newscaster: Things just seemed to fall apart last May 11th, when Blacks teed off on a 100 block area — and when police moved in to put a stop to it all, bullets whizzed through the air. And when it was all over, six Black men were dead. People....
Host: We followed how the protest escalated from a peaceful demonstration to a full scale revolt. But in this episode, we're taking you even deeper into the events. Why were 10 people shot by police that night — and why were six more shot in the back and killed? These people ranged in age from 18 to 45 years old. In this episode, we'll hear from family members who remember that night, and we'll share details from witnesses to those deaths. Those details will often be as new to you as they are to the families of the victims. No official ever spoke to the families about these investigations. Some hadn't even seen their loved ones autopsy.
When a person dies, a coroner or a medical examiner fills out a form and it's going to tell you the manner of death. Basically, they check a box — but it's a very important box. It answers a legal question: was the death homicide justifiable, accidental, suicide or natural... at least, that is how it was in Augusta in 1970. In ideal circumstances, today or back then, the checkmark clarifies what happened, because let's say the coroner checks accidental or justifiable — a prosecutor then can't reasonably argue that the death was a homicide.
So let's take a present tense example: did George Floyd die from a knee to the neck or was it an underlying medical condition? It was really up to the coroner to decide this. And in the preliminary autopsy, the medical examiner said the death was accidental — the police bore no responsibility — then he revised his report. Here's an anchor for a Minneapolis's Care11 News explaining the change.
Newscaster: The updated Hennepin County medical examiner's report says George Floyd died of a heart attack, complicated by the officers restraint. And the manner of death was homicide. It also goes on to say that George Floyd had underlying health issues. A few hours ago, the doctors who performed the independent autopsy at the family's request said they found no underlying health conditions and that George Floyd died from having two officers kneel on his back, compressing his lungs. And then Officer Chauvin kneeling on his neck for some eight minutes.
Host: That change was really important, because doing so allowed the prosecutor to upgrade the charges against Officer Derrick Chauvin. Here is the family's lawyer, Tony Romanucci, and he's explaining what their independent autopsy found.
Tony Romanucci: What this really was, was the weight of the Minneapolis police department on George's neck. Not only was the knee on George's neck a cause of his death — but so was the weight of the other two police officers on his back. That makes all of those officers on scene criminally liable — and without a doubt, civilly responsible.
Host: Connecting this back to May of 1970, Augusta's coroner largely avoided checking any boxes. He left the manner of death up to interpretation for almost all of the six victims. Instead, he typed "shot in race riot" for three of the victims. For another two, he typed a question mark next to justifiable. Only one death was marked as homicide.
In 1970, police were legally allowed to shoot a fleeing suspect. Each of these teens and adult victims were fleeing. They were all shot in the back. And each of them had at least one bullet wound that was level with the heart. So the coroner could have checked justifiable for each victim — but that's if they were suspects. But he didn't have any police reports to review. The Augusta police told the mayor the reports would be done soon. A month later, the FBI arrived. And police officials said to them that they didn't have the time or the resources to write those reports.
People like Hosea Williams thought they knew why that was. Williams was the head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, or SCLC.
Hosea Williams: Well, at least — some of the local police are the ones guilty of the crimes. And it's very difficult to ask the man to investigate himself. And that's what you ask him when you ask the local police to investigate the situation.
Host: How did these deaths happen then? The FBI files paint a really clear picture of what happened to most of the victims. And we're going to tell you the story of each of those people. Sammie McCullough, John Bennett, William Wright Jr, John Stokes, Charles Mack Murphy and Mack Wilson. The Augusta six. Marvin Bennett would have been the seventh. But he survived.
Marvin Bennett: I was shot five times.
Host: He is not related to John Bennett, who was shot and killed that night.
Marvin Bennett: Was shot in the stomach, back, arm.
Sea: Twice in the stomach, twice in the back, once in the arm, yeah?
Marvin Bennett: Uh-huh.
Host: Bennett and I went to the intersection where police shot him.
Marvin Bennett: When we standing, and then it used to be — used to be a gas station here, used to be a liquor store here, you know.
Host: At that point, he wasn't too much further from home. But he'd started about two miles back, in downtown at a barber shop. He and some friends had gone there after school — hoping to get their haircuts — and then, as the uprising picked up speed, busses stopped running. So they were forced to walk home. And they took their time.
Marvin Bennett: It was sort of quiet on the street that we was on.
Marvin Bennett: So, you know, somebody yelled out "here come the police." And we start running, you know. You see, at the range that I was shot, probably between me and that door there — close range.
Host: Bennett spent three weeks in the hospital. He lost one of his kidneys and he was still in his wheelchair when he graduated that June. It might not surprise you, but Bennett doesn't talk about what happened to him much — in fact, many people didn't know that it had happened to him. And part of the reason for that is that, he has heard those questions: "Well, if you weren't doing anything, then why would you run?" "How do you expect us to believe that you weren't involved?" He ran because he heard gunfire.
And he ran because, all too often, contact between Black people and law enforcement results in arrest records, jail time and far worse. And often without cause.
Police say they were following orders and that's why they fired on the radio.
Sea: Did you guys ever get any instructions from your chief as to like how to handle this or what to do?
Louis Dinkins: Beck — they said, put out a shoot to kill over, over the radio.
Host: They meaning his fellow officers. This is former Sgt Louis Dinkins. And he wasn't in the car at the time of that announcement. Beck was the captain of the police. The chief was Broadus Bequest. But according to Dinkins, Bequest stayed home during the riot — Beck was the one in charge that night. You may remember Beck from the last episode. He was the officer who had the submachine gun, and he fired off an entire magazine in the direction of protesters. According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation report, police captain James Beck actually told his officers to, quote, "use whatever force necessary to stop the riot and to protect yourself," unquote.
Several officers were not willing to do that. James Walton was one of them. As were two others, who quit during the actual riot.
James Walton: Well, they were just ready to shoot. They were — they were got to go. They were ready to go. It's like rabbit hunting. You know, like they’re deer hunting — they were ready to shoot.
Host: According to Walton, some of the white officers saw any work in the Black neighborhoods as beneath them. And others saw Black people as, in general, needing to be taught a lesson.
James Walton: If they got a chance to shoot a Black, they would shoot him.
Host: When police Captain Beck ordered his officers into the melee finally, he wanted them well equipped. And so he made a deal with weapons stores. They provided police with more guns and ammunition than they already had. And one of the things that the department was criticized for was not stopping the riot sooner. Police Chief Broadus Bequest responded by saying, quote, "What could the police department have done? We could not go in there and shoot the protesters down, could we?"
That does seem to be what happened to Sammie McCullough. He died about a quarter of a mile from where Marvin Bennett was shot. McCullough and his friend Russell Cunningham were hanging out, as they always did, on Monday night. They were best friends and they worked at the hospital together.
Cunningham told the FBI that they'd heard about the warehouse fires on 15th — and they weren't too far away, but McCullough had polio. So they drove over to see them. Here's an actor reading from Cunningham statement.
Russell Cunningham, actor: We watched the fire burn for about 10 minutes. Then we thought, "we better get home." As we walked out 15th Street, we had no fear of any danger.
Host: To get back to their car, they turned down a side street and that was when they saw Colonial Thrift Bakery getting ransacked. And then, out of nowhere, was gunfire.
Russell Cunningham, actor: I do not think the first shots hits either of us — but the firing did not stop. Samuel decided to run. He could not go very fast because he had polio in his leg. Samuel was trying to get to the car, but he never made it. I took my hands up and begged him to stop shooting. My leg stung. I grab for it and fell to the ground. My leg was just grazed. The bullets in Samuel passed through his body.
Host: Cunningham was taken to jail with a shotgun pellet in his leg. McCullough was delivered to the hospital. He had been shot twice in the mid back. The first bullet, quote, "entered the right chest and coursed upward, perforating all three lobes of the right lung and shattered the right clavicle." He was 20 years old, and his death is the only one the coroner listed as a homicide. But no one was ever charged. The Washington Post interviewed his father, Sammie McCullough Sr., and he asked the reporter a question. Here's an actor reading what he said.
Sammie McCullough Sr, actor: Do you understand that they murdered my son in cold blood. Do you understand that, don't you? What happens out here on these streets of Augusta, Georgia, it was murder. They had no call to kill my boy, none.
Host: The next victim was John Bennett. And just a reminder, the two Bennetts in this story are not related. I drove to the street where John Bennett was killed by police. And along with me was my student, Tiara Dugger.
Tiara Dugger: So I know this used to be Sunset.
Host: On one side of the street was where Sunset Homes used to be. It's now torn down.
Tiara Dugger: I had a couple cousins that used to live out here, and my mom used to play out here with them when they — when she was younger and stuff. So I remember what this looked like. They were brick apartment and you could clearly tell that it was the projects. It was like, a lot of streets, but they felt like alleys, like dark alleys. So you will walk down the street and night and you'd be kind of like "ohhh, what gonna happen out here?"
Host: John Bennett lived in Sunset. And he died running back to it. That's where his wife and his three children were waiting for him. He was 28 years old and he was Donna Jackson's favorite uncle.
Donna Jackson: But he was larger than life to me. My parents were separated, and he took up a lot of time with me — even though he had three small children of his own. And he would come and get me, and just take me places. Do things with me. And I knew that he loved me so.
Host: On the night of the riot, John Bennett and some friends were hanging out. They were at a house that was across the street from Sunset and also not too far away from Hitt’s Grocery. Tiara and I wanted to figure out exactly where that would have been.
Sea: There was like a grocery store real close and...
Tiara Dugger: I think it's down there. I know... Yeah, it's like a little store. I know there's a store here and I know exactly what you're talking about because I've seen it.
Host: The night of the riot, Hitt's Grocery had been looted. And security guards stood out front. They were waiting for police to arrive. When they did, the sirens drew everybody's attention. Three police cars pulled up. Six officers got out. And all of them were carrying shotguns. Betty Ann Garnett was hosting a gathering nearby. John Bennett was one of her guests. And everyone heard those sirens. The FBI interviewed her. This is how they summarized her statement.
FBI file: Everyone went on her porch to investigate what happened. When outside, John Bennett noticed that his car had been stolen and went to call the police on the telephone to notify them of the theft.
Host: For Donna Jackson's part, she wasn't surprised that his car was gone.
Donna Jackson: My uncle was notorious for leaving his keys in the car. I can remember my mother going toe to toe with him about leaving the keys in the car. "Don't leave your keys in the car. Something's gonna happen." Now, did that happen that night? I don't know. But he would do it. Yes, ma'am. He would do it. He was — "ah, nobody want that raggedy car" and he'd keep going.
Host: The car actually hadn't gone very far. One of his friends noticed it. It was parked at the back of Hitt's Grocery. So Bennett walked over to the police. They were standing outside. He approached hands up and asked if he could talk to them. One of his friends, a man by the name of George Council, heard what Bennett and the officers were saying to one another. And this is how the FBI summarized his remarks.
FBI file: He heard the Negro tell the police that the car which was parked there belonged to him. And Council stated that the police officers asked the Negro, "What is the car doing parked here?"
Host: One of the officers who was talking to Bennett was Louis Dinkins. And Dinkins remembers Bennett's vehicle as a truck.
Louis Dinkins: Well this guy was, was — I mean, he was a looter. He had about 20 boxes loaded up on a truck of beans and stuff, you know, canned goods and things like that.
Host: None of the neighbors say Bennett was looting, and that's according to FBI documents. And quite a few people were actually watching. Mary Sue Fulcher was standing on the porch with George and Betty. And she was watching Bennett — watching the six officers. She says the police got rough. Here's a voice actor reading her affidavit.
Mary Sue Fulcher, actor: We couldn't actually hear what he said to the police, but we did see them ordered him to spread his legs so they could search him. After searching him, they began beating on him until he was almost too weak to stand up. Then they threw him into the backseat of the police car. While the officers were conferring, John threw open the door, began to run, brushing up against the fence as though he was off balance. As he attempted to escape, the lone Black policeman told us to get in the house. He wasn't bullshitting.
Host: Dinkins says that Bennett got across the street and then ran around a building into Sunset Homes.
Louis Dinkins: But again, it was pitch black. When I went around the corner, this guy was running. And there was two shots fired, almost simultaneously. One was a shotgun the other a pistol about 100 yards away, which is good range.
Mary Sue Fulcher, actor: When they saw John running the policeman in the night watching began shooting at him. As John headed down 15th Street towards such as we thought he had made it.
Louis Dinkins: I was up right behind the — the guy that fired the shot. He fired before I did. One of them had connected because he went down. So I don't know who shot him. I don't know who actually hit him.
Mary Sue Fulcher, actor: After the shooting, the police told us to get in the house. And we asked him, "How many times he had been shot?" To which they replied, "It didn't matter. He still dead." One of my girlfriends, Betty Anne, picked up John Shoe from the street and we went home.
Host: When we return, we'll tell you how the remaining four people lost their lives. That's ahead on "Shots in the Back."
Host: This is "Shots in the Back." I'm Sea Stachura. Welcome back. My student Tiara and I are driving around Augusta's South Side. We're visiting some of the neighborhoods affected by the rebellion. I point out a restored house. It sits between older homes and a new housing development.
Sea: Oh that's a really dressed up house.
Tiara Dugger: It used to be a very decrepit. The windows were broken in, the roof was falling in, and when they started putting all these houses up, I thought, that looked mighty weird next to all these, like new houses. But I have not seen that in a minute.
Host: I didn't know that she used to live around here and she didn't know that the uprising stretched into this area.
Sea: OK, so we're looking at this St. Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard and that's right here, right. We're just past this spot like, right — this little dot right here, that's where Charles Mack Murphy died. And he would have died like, right, right near that.
Tiara Dugger: Next to the church.
Host: The coroner listed Murphy's death as shot in a race riot. He had recently moved back to Augusta to work at a furniture store. He was 39 years old, a husband and a father of four. And they were all still back in Florida.
The evening of the riot, Murphy was headed home. He normally would have taken the bus, because it was three miles between where he worked downtown and his mother's house, where he was staying. But without the busses running, he had to walk through the chaos. Esther Mae Alexander was walking with a friend around the same time, on the very same three lane road. She passed liquor store, and then Wirtz-Hernlan, a department store. Someone had actually just set fire to it. So people were running out with clothes and then she heard police sirens. Here's the FBI summary of what she saw.
FBI file: She stated that all the people started running and she observed the police car with two white officers, one with a shotgun, arrive. She stated that the officer with the shotgun jumped out and started shooting. She stated approximately four shots were fired and she looked back and saw a man with a green shirt fall. She stated she did not know where this man with the green shirt had come from and had not seen him prior to that time.
Host: Murphy's autopsy shows that he was shot in the back. The wounds were from a shotgun round that was powerful enough to penetrate a car door at 1300 feet. The nine or so pellets inside these rounds scatter as they leave the barrel. And in this instance, they struck Murphy in seven places. Most of his left lung was shot away. He was only three blocks from home when he was killed. No one identified the officer who shot Murphy. Louis Dinkins says that was partly due to the dispatcher.
Louis Dinkins: He didn't know where anybody was. So when the call came in, he would say, any units that can respond, at so-and-so and such and such place. He didn't know how many people he had that he could send or not.
Host: Many of Augusta's officers repeatedly acknowledged they had gone to the scene of a shooting. But nearly all of them said by the time they arrived, the situation was under control, so they left. Officers remained anonymous in other ways, too. They refused to let the FBI take their photographs. Agents summarized Officer John Britt's reasoning this way. Quote, "When Negro militants who looted and burned Augusta voluntarily furnish their photographs, he would voluntarily furnish his."
Thirty minutes after police killed Murphy, they killed 18-year-old William Wright Jr. He was at a gas station about a mile northeast of Murphy. On Wright's autopsy, the coroner typed a question mark next to the word justifiable. Wright was the oldest of ten children. His sister, Grace Stewart, says he was a senior in high school at the time.
Grace Stewart: He was a drum major at first. and then he started playing basketball. Oh, he was good.
Host: I met with Stewart and several of her siblings to talk about their brother. We met at their childhood home. They told me William was planning on getting married to his sweetheart the next weekend and he was headed to her house that Monday afternoon. Walter Wright remembers his brother phoning home.
Walter Wright: He call home to let Moma know that it was rough out there. And mom told us, "What I did — I called your girlfriend" and, and, and then momma said that, “Y'all can stay 'till morning. Y'all can stay until morning and then cool off.” But in the process of trying to get there, that's where, that's when the police officer came round corner.
Host: Well, it's possible that William Wright Jr made that phone call from the S.O.C gas station, where he died. According to the FBI reports, Wright and his friends had stopped to put out a fire in the parking lot. They were watching the action, too. People were robbing the gas station. That's why Sgt Louis Dinkins and others were called to the scene. Dinkins and I were at a cafeteria when he told me about it.
Louis Dinkins: We ran up on a service station that was closed when they had broken the lock on the pumps. And they were filling gas bottles and soaked rags and they'll putting them in a bottle... and the kids ran everywhere. Oh, and I was first out of the car and I fired a shotgun up in the air and I blew the gas sign all to hell, just to scare them off.
Host: Wright's best friend was John Collier. And he was at that station too. Here's what he told the FBI, read by an actor.
John Collier, actor: I stopped to tie my shoe. And in doing so, I noticed that the police were returning. I said, here come the cops. Everybody began to run because we felt that they might arrest us.
Louis Dinkins: They took off running. And the people who were in the three cars below us, these kids ran toward their, and it was all kind of shoot going on. And one — one kid got hit.
John Collier, actor: Instead of running around the fence, I ran right through a hole in the fence. I noticed that William started running, but then he just stopped and threw his hands up. I then heard several shots. At no time did I hear an officer yell, "halt! There was no warning given to any of us.".
Host: To The Washington Post, Collier added:.
John Collier, actor: "The shots knocked William up in the air and his hands flew up. His hat fell off. He landed on his face. I watched to see if he will move. I was hoping he'd be alive."
Host: He wasn't. He died at the scene. Walter Wright spoke with everyone he could find about his brother's killing. They told him that the police dragged his brother's body.
Walter Wright: They picked him up, they drug here — the police picked him up and drugged him, and throw him in the ditch and left him there.
Host: Paramedics later found him on the side of the road. The coroner report lists nine entry wounds in Wright's body. As a reminder, this doesn't necessarily mean police fired nine times. Buckshot scatters. That said, witnesses said they heard three to five gunshots. And despite pages and pages of FBI interviews and affidavits, none of the officers could be identified as a shooter.
John Stokes death was labeled as shot in race riot. He was 19 years old. The day before had been Mother's Day. And that Sunday morning, Stokes had sung in the choir at Hale Street Baptist Church. Then he cooked his mother dinner. His brother, Vernon Stokes, remembers him as fun loving.
Vernon Stokes: All way around — never had no trouble with anybody. He'd keep your laughing. In your worst of moments. He'd keep you laughing.
Host: Vernon Stokes had a vision of his brother's death.
Vernon Stokes: Well, I saw death before it happened. They wouldn't believe it. When nobody believe it 'till it happened. Like me and you sitting here today. And then, weren't no justice out of it though.
Host: Stokes wasn't too far from home when he went inside of Davis' Market. And that's where he died. Twelve year old Carole Larry saw it happen. She and some friends were headed home and they joined a crowd for safety. As the group came upon Davis market, she could see people inside. Here is a voice actor reading the statement Carole made to students at Howard University.
Carole Larry, actor: The window was already broken and a few people were in the store. People in the crowd went through the window to get some of the food. I want some too. So I climbed through the window. I was stooping down, picking up candy and some food. All of a sudden, someone hollered: "here comes the rollers." Everybody started running for a door.
A tall, fat cop jumped through the window and shot. He didn't call stop. He just shot two times. I ran away from the door to hide behind a bread table. The police man say, "There's a little girl over here." He said to me, "Come on out here. There ain't anything wrong with you." After he made me come out, I saw a tall boy lying down by the counter. He had his hands on his chest and there was some blood. The police officer said, "Get your (bleep) up. There ain't anything wrong with you."
Host: Carole Larry says the officer took Stokes his arm from his chest. And let it drop. In an interview with The Washington Post, she recalled what the officer did next:
Carole Larry, actor: Don't give up, (bleep). You ain't dead yet. Then after determining he was dead, he said to the officer's, that's the fifth or fourth (bleep) we got tonight.
We got tonight police cars surrounded the store and eventually an ambulance arrived. Vernon Stokes has never gotten over his brother's killing.
Vernon Stokes: It's like when someone turns off a light switch. Just like that. I can see him moving... dead. Sometimes I wish it was me instead him, then I probably wouldn't be feeling the way I feel now. I had a lot of anger in me. I still got a lot of anger in me — but ain't nothing I can do about it.
Host: The last victim to be delivered to the emergency room that night was Mack Wilson. We don't know exactly when he died, but we do know that he was 45. His friends called him Mr. Mack. He had a loving wife, a three year old daughter and best friend. On his report, the coroner placed a question mark next to the word justifiable. The Washington Post spoke to both his wife and his best friend. Both were simply called Mrs. Wilson and Shorty. Here's what Mrs. Wilson had to say about her husband. This is read by a voice actor.
Mrs. Wilson, actor: He was such a nice man. Like you take Shorty. Shorty was behind in his rent by a hundred and some dollars. Mr. Mack went and paid the landlord and Shorty didn't even know it until after.
Host: Shorty and Wilson often went drinking. Anderson's bar was one of their hangouts. But the black owner had closed because of the riot. Shorty told the FBI that they found a way in and poured themselves a few drinks.
Shorty, actor: After a while, this law came up, he threw a spotlight into the bar — come on out, old man. And then he made two shots. When the law left, I went over, said, “Come on, Mack, let's go.” But he did answer. I went back to the car, sat down.
Host: Wilson's body was found on a small dirt road that ran behind the bar. And it's likely that Wilson dragged himself out there. The shelves and floor of the bar's store room were covered in blood.
That brings us to the last story that we want to tell you in this episode. You might remember Rev. Claude Harris — he was one of the only people who acknowledged participating in the rebellion. By the end of the night, he was in that packed city jail.
Claude Harris: The jail was packed. And that's how we keep ourselves going. Fourteen men in this four man cell. And we sat around, and we would holler through throughout the jail, and holler people's name to see if they were in jail or if they were dead.
Host: Like Marvin Bennett, Harris was lucky to make it out of the rebellion alive. At one point during the night, he came within a hair's breadth of dying. He and others broke into a cleaner's near one of the housing projects.
Claude Harris: It was a white guy that owned it. They've been taking money for years from themBlack people, cleaning their clothes, overcharging them. Let's give them the clothes. But let's take all these clothes, run them across tracks, drop them off to the projects in. Anybody wanted them can get them.
Host: While Harris was in there, six police cars surrounded the building and Harris had a moment of reckoning.
Claude Harris: We were inside the cleaners. One of the guys jumped on the counter and climbed up into the attic. But he didn't close it. One the other guys went to hide behind some clothes in the back. I decided, no need for me to hide. The cops already out front. And when I looked out the window, one of the guys took off running. The cops said nothing. Shot him in his back and he fell in his insides.
Host: This young man was most likely Alex J. Holmes. He was a Paine college student. And in surgery that night, doctors had to remove segments of his small intestine and his colon. He'd been struck three times, once on either side of his lower spine and once in his shoulder. In his statement to the FBI, he denied any involvement in the uprising.
Claude Harris: I never will forget this young cop. When I saw that, I walked out the door. It didn't matter anymore whether he shot me or not. He pulled his 32 — this is something that I haven't told nobody. These cops went home and got their personal weapons. At the time, they were carrying 38s.
He put a 32 in my face: "Here, run (bleep) cause we've been looking for you all day." I will never forget, I was crazy. I took my hand and moved his gun out of my face... And I walked around him and I opened the police car door and I sat in the police car. And I sat there crying because... this young man was dead, hadn't done anything.
And the whole time I was wondering, was this worth it? Was it worth it? Was it worth it? Me throwing that garbage can through this window? Was it worth that little boy getting shot? Was it worth him dying? Was it worth all of these people getting arrested? Was worth it have tanks ride down street down to hunt you down like your animals. Was it worth it to have soldiers on rooftops, aiming rifle at you? Was it worth it. I'm afraid now that my parents going to get shot.
Where they going to go with this. Are they going to go through my neighborhood and just shoot people at random. They do this — and they got the badges.
Host: Was it worth it? That's ahead on "Shots in the Back" I'm Sea Stachura. Thanks for listening.
To see the autopsies of these men and a map of the night's events. Go to our Web site, GPB.org/shots. Shots in the Back is reported and hosted by me, Sea Stachura, and assistant producer, Rosemary Scott. Our editor is Keocia Howard. Additional assistance by Nefertiti Robinson and Lars Lonnroth. Research support comes from Corey Rogers at the Lucy Craft Laney Museum of Black History and John Hayes at Augusta University. Our theme was composed by Tony Aaron Music, additional music provided by De Wolf Music. Mixing by Jesse Nighswonger.
We heard archival material in this episode from WSB News film collection at the University of Georgia Libraries, oral histories courtesy of Reese Library Special Collections at Augusta University.
Sean Powers is our podcasting director and Mary Lynn Ryan is the station’s vice president of news. Gary Dennis is the executive director of J-N-S-A. This podcast is funded in part by a South Arts grant.