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The Militant, 4 May 1946

Harold Josephs

Toledo Man Uncovers
Lynching in Arkansas

(24 April 1946)

From The Militant, Vol. X No. 18, 4 May 1946, p. 8.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


TOLEDO, O., Apr. 24 – The scene of this hitherto unpublicized murder was not a concentration camp in Nazi Germany, but a small community in the United States, and it happened just a month ago. The story was revealed here in Toledo by the uncle of the victim.

Walter Reed, a 17-year-old Negro boy, was beaten and shot to death in Augusta, Arkansas, March 23, 1946. His body was hidden, his family refused even the right to bury it.

Young Reed worked as a sharecropper with his father on the property of Conner Stacy, a local land owner. He complained to Stacy of having to work every other night in addition to every day – a “day’s work” in the field means at least 16 hours.

Stacy reported Reed’s complaint to the deputy sheriff of McCrory County, who lived in the Stacy residence. The sheriff promptly threatened Reed with a beating if he should attempt to enter the armed forces as an escape from his virtual slavery. The idea of such an escape had not occurred to Walter before, but ...

Young Reed applied for enlistment in the navy. This innocent act proved to be his death warrant.

Informed of Reed’s application, the deputy sheriff hurried to the field where Reed was plowing and there beat him mercilessly. He took the boy into custody, and presumably started for the McCrory County jail.

This kill-crazy sheriff, however, had no intention of reaching McCrory jail with a living Walter Reed! He and his lynch gang again attacked their helpless prisoner. Reed attempted to run. The “peace officer” shot him in the back.

The sheriff then told Reed’s family that the boy had been arrested for horse-stealing. Whose horse? When? Where? Neither the deputy sheriff nor his friends can answer. But this lie was all the excuse needed to satisfy the “law-abiding” white citizens of this typical southern community.

Walter Reed’s body was hidden under a pile of sawdust until the next morning, when the sheriff returned to throw the body into a ditch filled 30-feet-deep with water.

Reed’s worried family was told that Walter, while attempting to escape, had run into the river and been shot there. To substantiate this lie, the cartridge from the fatal bullet was planted on the river bank. Then, to prevent the truth from being learned, the family was refused permission to recover his body.

Shocked and bewildered, the Reed family sent a frantic appeal for help to Walter’s uncle, Robert Goodman of Toledo.

Uncle Threatened

In Augusta, Goodman was warned not to investigate his nephew’s death – “for his own health.” Goodman ignored the threat. After overhearing a conversation between two women who knew that Walter lay in the water-filled ditch, Goodman found the boy’s corpse.

Local authorities, learning of Robert Goodman’s discovery, promptly jailed him on the charge that he had failed to obtain permission to recover Reed’s body!

The concealed murder of 17-year-old Walter Reed exposes once more the terror under which Negroes live in the “democratic” United States, where wealthy land owners who maintain virtual slavery on their fields, not only go unpunished, but are aided by lynch-law officials.

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