Alex Constantine - January 23, 2008
Louisiana Gannett News Service
Richard Barrett has called himself the "parade expert." After victoriously arguing such cases in front of the U.S. Supreme Court and winning in a number of federal and district courts, Barrett said he knows his way around constitutional law.
Barrett is the attorney and spokesman for the Learned, Miss.-based Nationalist Movement.
He has advocated segregation, marched in opposition to Martin Luther King Jr. Day a number of times and hosted a "warrior weekend for skinheads" at his Mississippi home. Barrett is a constitutional law attorney who ran for governor and a congressional seat in Mississippi.
In 1989, Barrett's group marched with 40 robed Ku Klux Klansmen in Atlanta surrounded by National Guard troops in riot gear as hostile counter-demonstrators threw bricks and rocks. Five years later, the group marched through Boston, again protected by riot police.
The Nationalist Movement was established in 1987 in Forsyth County, Ga., and Barrett said the group has members in 36 states, although he wouldn't say how many.
The group originally met in a Georgia chicken coop, where members wrote the "Forsyth County Covenant" — first read by Barrett on Jan. 21, 1987, on the steps of the Forsyth County Courthouse. The covenant has 12 points, including majority rule, equality, heritage, freedom, democracy and patriotism.
"Racial integration in America must end, and non-white immigration must cease," the covenant reads. "The burgeoning non-white population explosion within our borders must be brought under control."
Although the group's members are described by many as white supremacists, Barrett has said even addressing that description isn't appropriate.
The group will be rallying and marching Monday in Jena to give a "voice to the voiceless," Barrett said. The "Jena Justice Day" event has a theme of "No to 'Jena Six' and No to MLK," he said.
The rally is on the same day the nation celebrates the life of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. A number of activists are calling on great numbers to come to Jena to "oppose the lynch-mob racists."
Most events Barrett has held have drawn more counter-demonstrators and media than those in support of his cause.
Many in Jena have spoken out against both those coming in support of the Nationalists and against it. Town officials made it clear the group wasn't wanted in a statement issued earlier this week.
And two of the Jena youth Barrett claimed were in support of his message vehemently denied any ties with the man.
Ben Gaines, 19, said Barrett is just coming to stir things up, and Barrett is not his friend.
"Everybody is trying to stay away from all this," he said of Monday's events. "Everybody's trying to get out of town, leave. I ain't going to be walking. I got black friends. I ain't a racist."
Justin Sloan said he also won't be anywhere near Monday's events.
"I'm just tired of hearing about it on either side," he said. "I wish they'd just all leave it alone."
In addition to Barrett, there will be three other speakers at "Jena Justice Day."
James Hart, who ran for Congress in Tennessee with the slogans "Equal rights for whites" and "No enemies on the white," said he's going to talk about how the case of the "Jena Six" was distorted by the media.
"The media would have us believe the Jena Six are like Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, but in reality they are like O.J. (Simpson)," Hart said. "They're just typical black criminals who have been allowed to go free by a corrupt court system."
Barry Hackney, who is a member of the Nationalists, said he will be talking about the importance of equal justice, no special privileges for anyone and equal protection under the law.
"Criminals need to be prosecuted," the Houston auto parts salesman said. "We see a lot of favoritism nowadays — certain groups are treated more equal than others. Certain people seem to be above the law. Hate crime laws seem to protect certain groups but don't protect Justin Barker."
Barker was the student who was attacked by a group of students at Jena High School on Dec. 4, 2006, according to court documents and testimony.
Montgomery, Ala., attorney Larry Darby, who also is scheduled to speak Monday, said he would like to see the 14th Amendment repealed and the Departments of Education and Energy abolished.