As it happens, there is in fact another story with a racial dimension that has grabbed my attention – a Missouri story that could become national news.
On June 10, an altercation occurred between Poplar Bluff, Missouri teenagers. One boy was struck in the face. At this point, not much else is known publicly about that altercation.
Three days later, on June 13, fifteen year old Walter Currie, Jr., who is black, was seriously burned in an alleged attack by two white teenagers. It appears – though this is not confirmed – that this heinous attack was perpetrated by the June 10 victim and a relative.
On July 6, Currie was charged in the initial incident, according to his family. Local officials have announced that all individuals involved in both incidents have been charged with crimes.
On July 29, Currie’s uncle, Pastor Gregory Nichols of Kansas City, states in an interview with KCTV that he believes that burn attack was racially motivated.
Principally Political wishes the best to Walter Currie, Jr. as he recovers from his wounds. The attack was a brutal, inhuman crime against him and must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. If you are interested in helping the family with medical bills, Nichols can be contacted via his blog.
Nichols has painted this as a hate crime, and he may be correct. So far, officials have said that the incident does meet that criteria.
Much more on this later. Right now, it’s late.
Post Script: A bit of background on Southeast Missouri…..
Now, to those not from Missouri who may be reading the blog, a few words about Southeast Missouri. It is largely rural, with Poplar Bluff being one of the major population centers along with Cape Girardeau . It is white, but there is a decent sized black population there as well. It is one of the poorest regions of the state, and I believe produces rice and cotton as some of its chief agricultural products – crops you probably won’t see too many other places in the Show Me State.
Residents should correct me If I’m mistaken, but Southeast Missouri is also unique in that to a degree it considers itself Southern. Most of the rest of the state considers itself Midwestern, culturally and geographically.
It’s on the edge of the Bible Belt, but is not known to be as outwardly evangelical as Southwest Missouri. Economically, it has not experienced anywhere near the growth that it’s Southwest regional counterpart has. It’s fairly conservative politically but with strong populist impulses.
In short, Obama would probably consider this bitter-clinger territory.
I’ve been told by a highly authoritative source (someone involved for many years in public service in the region, who loves the region but is also honest about its sins and shortcomings) that racism still exists in Southeast Missouri. That cultural dynamic would seem to lend credence to allegations of racism in this case.
You can bet that the culture of the region will be brought up in future coverage of this story, and that’s why I’ve included a few notes on it here.