Rexdale W. Henry, 53, long-time civil-rights activist and beloved leader in his Choctaw community, was found dead in his cell in the Neshoba County Jail in Philadelphia, Miss., sparking family and friends to seek an independent autopsy, reports Jackson Free Press.
Henry’s body was found at around 10:00 a.m. on the morning of July 14, about 30 minutes after he was last seen alive. The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation is allegedly investigating the case, but, knowing the history of Neshoba County, Henry’s supporters (justifiably) aren’t satisfied with just that.
Henry’s body was flown to Florida for an independent autopsy paid for by anonymous donors. His friends, long-time civil rights activists John Steele and Diane Nash, co-founder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), are helping Henry’s family with their independent probe.
Read below for more from the Jackson Free Press:
Henry, a member of the Choctaw tribe and a lifelong community activist, coached stickball and had been a candidate for the Choctaw Tribal Council from Bogue Chitto the week before his arrest on July 9 for failure to pay a fine.
“At a time when the nation is focused on the terrible circumstances of the brutal death of Sandra Bland, it is critical to expose the many ways in which Black Americans, Native Americans and other minorities are being arrested for minor charges and end up dead in jail cells,” McDonald said in a statement.
This is not the first time that an activist has turned up dead after a stay in the Neshoba County Jail.
On June 21, during the Freedom Summer of 1964, three civil-rights activists—James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Mickey Schwerner— were booked into the Neshoba County Jail on minor (and bogus) charges. The trio soon vanished and their bodies were discovered in a dam 44 days after they went missing.
The jail has since been moved, but its legacy remains firmly rooted in 1964 and Mississippi is still burning.
According to the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, Native Americans ages 25-35, 35-44 and 20-24 represent four of the top five groups most likely to be killed in law enforcement incidents. They accounted for 1.9 percent of victims in police killings even though they represent less than 1 percent of the entire population.”The racial group most likely to be killed by law enforcement is Native Americans, followed by African Americans, Latinos, Whites, and Asian Americans,” the August 2014 report stated.