Justice Department Must Investigate Mayoral Shootings, Threats Against Leaders in Louisiana

Jan. 11, 2007

NAACP President & CEO Bruce S. Gordon is asking U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and the U.S. Department of Justice to take the necessary steps to protect African American mayors in Louisiana who have faced intimidation and death in recent weeks. Gordon calls for an investigation into threats, shootings and the mysterious death of one mayor days before he was to take office.

"The families and communities deserve a thorough, objective investigation to uncover the facts in these troubling incidents," Gordon said. "There is no place for assassination or political terrorism in a democracy. We want the investigations to be fair and honest with a commitment to the pursuit of justice. We don't want to jump to conclusions. We just want the facts so we can act accordingly to ensure the safety of all public servants and those they serve."

Westlake Mayor-elect Gerald Washington's body was found by authorities Dec. 30 near his pickup truck at the old Mossville High School west of town. He was to have taken office two days later. The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office and Calcasieu Coroner's Office ruled Washington's death a suicide. State police took over the investigation after Washington's family questioned the findings, claiming Washington was murdered. He won the election by a wide margin last year.

Two shotgun rounds were fired into the home of Greenwood Mayor Ernest Lampkins on Monday. No one was injured, but the shooting is under investigation by Greenwood Police and the Caddo Parish Sheriff's Office. Leslie Thompson, who just took office as Jonesboro's first black mayor, has been receiving death threats at his home by telephone.

Yesterday the NAACP Louisiana State Conference also requested that the U. S. Department of Justice investigate recent shootings and threats made against the African American mayors.

Louisiana NAACP President Ernest L. Johnson questions why local governments have not set up information/tip lines or offered rewards to develop leads in the shootings. He describes the terrorist acts as outright voter intimidation and compares their impact on the community to that felt during the deadly spate of church burnings and bombings experienced in the 1960s and 1990s.

Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.

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