02-25-2021  5:04 pm   •   PDX and SEA Weather
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NORTHWEST NEWS

Black Restaurant Week Comes to Portland

National event highlights Black-owned restaurants, cafes, and food trucks, creates countrywide database to support Black businesses

Portland Police Launch Team to Investigate Shootings

 The Enhanced Community Safety Team will be comprised of three sergeants, 12 officers and six detectives, and will staff a seven-member on-call unit to respond to shooting scenes, examine evidence, interview witnesses and do immediate follow-up investigations

Oregon National Guard Deploys As Power Outages Persist

The Oregon National Guard will go door-to-door in areas hardest hit by last weekend’s ice storm to make sure residents who have been without power for a week have enough food and water

Vancouver Drops Most Police Killing Protest Charges

Hundreds marched through the city from Oct. 30 to Nov. 1 to protest the shooting death of Kevin Peterson Jr. by two Clark County Sheriff’s Office detectives

NEWS BRIEFS

Seattle Black Artist To Be Featured in Amazon Prime Series

The Northwest African American Museum (NAAM), in Seattle, Washington, is launching a call for artist...

NIKE, Inc. and Goalsetter Partner to Increase Financial Literacy Among America’s Youth

Goalsetter uses digital platforms to engage youth and help them better understand financial well-being, while saving for their future ...

Six Trailblazing Black Judges to Discuss Overcoming Challenges Feb. 26

The online program panel judges include Justice Adrienne Nelson, the first Black justice of the Oregon Supreme Court and the first...

Launch of the Center for Black Entrepreneurship to Help Fuel Black Innovation

The facility is the first-ever academic center of its kind to assemble, educate and empower a new class of Black entrepreneurial...

Medical Centre to Screen Film and Hold Panel on Black Men in Medicine

Seattle-based Virginia Mason Franciscan Health has invited 100 students to take part in the virtual event, which aims to inspire Black...

Oregon Senate hit by another GOP boycott, now over COVID-19

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Republicans in the Oregon Senate boycotted Thursday's session, using a tactic they have employed in the past two years to assert their will by stopping work in the Democratic-led Legislature — this time over the state's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.Senate...

Governor extends Oregon’s state of emergency due to COVID-19

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Gov. Kate Brown on Thursday extended Oregon’s declaration of a state of emergency until May 2 as confirmed COVID-19 cases drop but hundreds of new cases continue to be reported daily.“Throughout the pandemic, Oregonians have made smart choices that have...

Ex-Cardinals coach Wilks new defensive coordinator at Mizzou

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Steve Wilks is returning to coaching as the defensive coordinator at Missouri.Wilks, who was hired by Tigers coach Eli Drinkwitz on Thursday, took last year off after spending the previous 14 seasons in the NFL. The stint was highlighted by a year as the head coach of...

Music City Bowl between Iowa and Missouri canceled

The Music City Bowl between Missouri and Iowa was canceled Sunday because COVID-19 issues left the Tigers unable to play.The game scheduled for Wednesday in Nashville, Tennessee, is the second bowl called off since the postseason lineup was set on Dec. 20, joining the Gasparilla Bowl. Overall, 18...

OPINION

Democracy and White Privilege

“White Nationalists” who believe that America only belongs to its “White” citizens, who live and have lived according to “White Privilege” are ignoring the words of the Declaration of Independence ...

The Leadership Conference Submits Letter in Support of H.R. 40

H.R. 40 finally forces the U.S. government to recognize and make amends for the decades of economic enrichment that have benefited this nation as a result of the free labor that African slaves were forced to provide ...

Letter to the Editor Re: Zenith Energy

The time is now for Portland City Council to stop Zenith Energy’s transporting fossil fuels into and out of our city. ...

The Heroes Within Us

Black History Month, as it exists today, continues the practice of “othering” Black people in America. ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

BLM launches Survival Fund amid federal COVID-19 relief wait

NEW YORK (AP) — The Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation is formally expanding a million financial relief fund that it quietly launched earlier this month, to help people struggling to make ends meet during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.The foundation, which grew out of the...

Chief: Police heeded Capitol attack warnings but overwhelmed

WASHINGTON (AP) — Lawmakers pressed the acting U.S. Capitol Police chief Thursday to explain why the force wasn't prepared to fend off a violent mob of insurrectionists even though officials had compiled specific, compelling intelligence that extremists were likely to attack Congress and try...

US Park Police names Pamela Smith its 1st Black female chief

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Park Police on Thursday named Pamela Smith as its new chief, making her the first Black woman to lead the 230-year-old law enforcement agency.Smith, a 23-year veteran of the force, announced she would begin her term by establishing body-worn cameras for all Park...

ENTERTAINMENT

'Blinding Lights' and more hits the Grammys left in the dark

NEW YORK (AP) — The wattage in The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights” wasn’t strong enough to compete at the Grammys – but the song isn’t the only electrifying No. 1 hit that the Recording Academy snubbed.The Weeknd joins an exclusive club of songs that were...

Quotes from Stephen King interview with The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — Stephen King spoke recently to The Associated Press recently about his new novel, “Later,” but he also covered topics ranging from the famous people who have turned up at his readings to what happens when he looks up his own name on the Internet. And he think he...

Stephen King talks about crime, creativity and new novel

NEW YORK (AP) — Stephen King doesn't think of himself as a horror writer. “My view has always been you can call me whatever you want as long as the checks don't bounce,” King told The Associated Press during a recent telephone interview. “My idea is to tell a good story,...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Conservative gathering to feature Trump's false fraud claims

WASHINGTON (AP) — A gathering of conservatives this weekend in Florida will serve as an unabashed...

Medical oxygen scarce in Africa, Latin America amid virus

DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — A crisis over the supply of medical oxygen for coronavirus patients has struck...

Brazil death toll tops 250,000, virus still running rampant

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil’s COVID-19 death toll, which surpassed 250,000 on Thursday, is the...

S. Korea injects first shots in public vaccination campaign

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea on Friday administered its first available shots of coronavirus...

Amnesty report describes Axum massacre in Ethiopia's Tigray

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Soldiers from Eritrea systematically killed “many hundreds” of people,...

Senegal, Morocco, Caymans added to terror finance watch list

PARIS (AP) — An international agency that monitors terrorism funding kept North Korea and Iran as the only...

By Holbrook Mohr of the Associated Press

FERRIDAY, La. (AP) --Arthur Leonard Spencer says sure, he made some mistakes back when he was a "snot-nose kid," like joining the Ku Klux Klan. But murder?
No, the 71-year-old Spencer says, a small-town weekly paper got it wrong when it reported recently that he may have been involved in burning down a black man's shoe repair shop in 1964 with the owner inside.
"I feel sorry for his family, but I didn't have nothing to do with it," Spencer said.
No law enforcement agency has named Spencer as a suspect. But for the dead man's family, still praying for justice 46 years later, it's a welcome if not entirely solid lead.
The allegations were reported by the Concordia Sentinel of Ferriday, whose editor, Stanley Nelson, has dedicated the past four years of his life to an all-consuming investigation of the blaze that killed 51-year-old Frank Morris.
Nelson has written more than 100 stories about the case, culminating in an article that quoted Spencer's estranged son, his ex-wife and her brother as saying the former Klansman confessed to taking part in the crime.
Morris' slaying is one of more than 100 unsolved cases from the civil rights era that the FBI reopened in recent years. But for Nelson, the Morris case was unique, because it happened in his town. He has pledged to solve the crime once and for all.
The motive for the attack is not clear.

By most accounts Morris was well liked around town by both his black and white customers. He was separated or divorced and lived alone in a back room at his shop.
He was not known to be actively involved in the civil rights movement, which made black men targets in those days. And FBI documents indicate at least one witness debunked rumors that Morris had courted white women _ a virtual death sentence in that era. Still, just being a successful black businessman with a white clientele and having contact with white women was enough to enrage many people back then.
Others have speculated that Morris may have been targeted for refusing to do shoe repairs for a corrupt sheriff's deputy, who wanted the services for free.
Whatever the case, heavily censored FBI files from the time paint a chilling picture of Morris' death.
Morris was asleep inside the wooden store in Ferriday on Dec. 10, 1964. He woke up about 2 a.m. to the sound of breaking glass and crept to the front of the shop. Two men were standing just outside, one of them holding a shotgun.
"Get back in there, nigger," one of the men said. The other tossed a match onto the gasoline they had poured inside. The gas exploded and Morris ran out the back door, his body in flames. Two police officers who arrived within minutes took him to a hospital. He died four days later _ but not before describing his attackers.
They were "kind of small," maybe 30 to 35 years old, Morris told FBI investigators in one of several interviews. They had been in the store before. He later described the attackers as men he thought were his friends, but he never told investigators their names.
It's not clear whether he didn't know their names or was scared of further attacks. It is also likely that his severe injuries and heavy doses of medication impaired his ability to help investigators.
There may have been at least one other man waiting in a getaway car, Morris said, but he didn't get a good look at that person.
Nelson believes one of the men may have been Spencer, and said so on the front page of his newspaper. Nelson received reporting help from an organization he helped found, the Civil Rights Cold Case Project, a team of investigative reporters, academics, documentary filmmakers and others who want to tell the stories of unsolved cases from the civil rights era.
Among those Nelson quotes is Spencer's former brother-in-law, Bill Frasier, who was a sheriff's deputy at one time. Frasier told The Associated Press that he and Spencer were chatting decades ago about Spencer's days in the KKK when the subject came up unexpectedly. 
"I asked him, `Did y'all ever kill anybody?''' Frasier said in an interview. ``He said, 'We did one time by accident.'''
Frasier alleges that Spencer went on to explain that the group burned a store when nobody was supposed to be inside, though Spencer didn't name Morris as the victim and insisted that he stayed in the car.
Spencer's ex-wife, Brenda Rhodes, didn't return calls from the AP. Efforts to find Spencer's son were unsuccessful.
Rhodes was quoted by the Concordia Sentinel as saying a friend of hers, a man now dead, once claimed that he and Spencer participated in the crime. The son, an ex-convict named Boo Spencer, told the paper that his father admitted taking part in the crime, adding that the Klan didn't like that Morris owned a business.
Boo Spencer has served time in prison for theft and other crimes, and authorities said the father helped them on at least one occasion when they were investigating the son.

The FBI won't discuss Spencer in detail.
"We are aware of these allegations, but allegations alone are not proof,'' the agency said in a statement. ``As with any case, the FBI is committed to a thorough investigation of all information we receive.''
Spencer, a stocky man with dyed black hair and a salt-and-pepper beard who spent his life working as a trucker and mechanic, denied any involvement in the crime during a recent interview with the AP at his home, a small white house at the end of a long gravel road outside Rayville, La., billed as the ``White Gold Capital of the South'' because of its vast cotton fields.
Spencer said he was questioned by the FBI last year. He said he cooperated and has nothing to hide.
So why would people say these things about him? The $10,000 reward? Vengeance?
Spencer said his son, his ex-wife and her brother are all mad at him because he left the family. ``It's like a fatal attraction _ you know, like that movie. They won't leave me alone. And now they're tying to put a murder on me that I don't know nothing about,'' he said.
No one has ever been charged in the case. And it's not clear how much evidence the FBI has to go on after so many years.
The FBI obtained a portion of a finger that had been found two days after the fire in a parking lot or alley near Morris' burned store, according to FBI documents from the 1960s. There have been conflicting reports about whether Morris was missing a finger, but some hospital officials told investigators he was not. Spencer isn't either.
There was little other evidence: soil and clothing samples and a five-gallon container that provided no fingerprints. Rosa Williams, Morris' granddaughter, said she has ached for answers for most of her life. Now, she said, she has hope because she knows the FBI has been working the case. And she believes Nelson will see it through to the end. She has learned more about the case from him than from anyone else, she said.
"It's been a long battle. It's hard. It still is. We are hoping there will be justice,'' Williams said.
Jake Davis was 13 in 1964 and worked at Morris' shop. In a recent interview with the AP, Davis said he saw Morris arguing with three white men on the day of the fire but doesn't know whether one of them was Spencer. As a young black boy, Davis didn't even mention the three men when the FBI questioned him at the time.
"If I had talked then, I probably wouldn't be around now," he said.



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