Man Convicted in Cop's Death Invited to City Hall - - Jackson, MS

Jackson 01/28/05

Man Convicted in Cop's Death Invited to City Hall

By J.P. Hervis

He was convicted in the death of a Jackson police officer nearly 25 years ago. Next week he will speak inside city hall.  Imari Obadele was invited by Councilman Kenneth Stokes to speak at a black history program Tuesday, and his appearance is causing quite a stir.

The scene was chaotic on Lewis Street in August of 1971 hours after Jackson police officer William Louis Skinner was gunned down during a house raid on Lewis Street .

“I heard the shooting. I was there when skinner got shot," said former JPD chief Jim Black.

The 32-year veteran of the Jackson Police Department was in the hospital when Skinner died.

"It was very emotional for all the police officer that were there," Black said.

Police and FBI agents were serving an arrest warrant. Inside were members of the Republic of New Afrika , a separatist militant group. Twenty-six-year JPD vet Jimmy King was nearby.

"It was quiet all of a sudden; sounded like a small war going on," said King.

"You just didn't lose an officer like that. It was very traumatic," Black stated.

In 1972, RNA president Imari Obadele along with several others was found guilty in the killing of Skinner. He served nearly six years. On February 1, 2005, Obadele will stand inside Jackson City Hall in front of an audience to talk about the RNA eleven.

"I think it's an abomination a slam on the good black people of Jackson and the good white people of Jackson," expressed Black.

The speech is part of a black history program. His host is city Councilman Kenneth Stokes.

"To me this would be like promoting Byron De La Beckwith. It's just a travesty," stated King.

The police training facility in Jackson is named after William Louis Skinner, remembering and honoring his service. But his colleagues say the invitation by a Jackson city councilman of Obadele will have the opposite affect.

Black says, "He is absolutely showing no respect for the man and woman who have given their lives in the line of duty."

Inside the training facility, Skinner's picture sits in between others who paid the ultimate price. Above is a sign saying lest we forget. Skinner's colleagues haven't forgotten, and their memories fuel emotional disappointment. An assistant to Councilman Stokes told WLBT he was out of state. When we offered to do a phone interview, she contacted him and Stokes declined. Just before 6:00 p.m. WLBT received a statement from Skinner's son justice court judge bill skinner. He says quote: "For more than 33 years my family and I suffered the loss of my father. This is not a black and white issue; it is a right and wrong issue. The fact that the city would celebrate a convicted felon who murdered my father tells me this is not the best of the new south."

City officials say this not a city-sponsored event. Councilmen have the right to invite speakers into city hall. Mayor Harvey Johnson released a statement saying he learned Friday about the event.

"The mayor's office has not been and will not be involved in the planning and implementation of this event," he said.

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