Tues. Sept., 18, 2018 at 9pm on 99.5FM WBAI/NY or simulcast live on the web at wbai.org

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Eddie Hatcher

Eddie Hatcher, political prisoner

Gay Indigenous Political Prisoner Eddie Hatcher:

In this segment, our guests will tell the story of the late Eddie Hatcher, a gay Tuscarora activist in Robeson County, North Carolina, a very poor rural area with a large majority population of African Americans and indigenous people. The late 1980s witnessed over 20 unsolved murders of Black and Native peoples and the refusal of law enforcement to find the killers and bring them to justice, sometimes because those killers were themselves cops or sheriffs. These deaths were closely tied to a culture of government corruption connected to the drug trade. (more background on inner page, sound to be added after broadcast.)

Melanie Kaye Kantrowitz

Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz

Remembering Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz

Lesbian activist, organizer, educator, writer, poet Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz died July 10, 2018 at age 73 of Parkinson's Disease. She was the author of numerous books, including "The Colors of Jews", "The Issue is Power" and  book of short stories "My Jewish Face". She was the founding Director of the NYC organization Jews for Racial and Economic Justice and later director of the Queens College/CUNY Worker Education Center. She was leader in explaining the connections among racism, antisemitism, mysogyny, heterosexism and class oppression. Around 1990 Melanie also co-founded “Beyond the Pale” : The Progressive Jewish Radio Hour, a radio program that aired weekly on WBAI (99.5 FM) which “mixes local, national, and international political debate and analysis, from a progressive Jewish perspective with the voices and sounds of contemporary Jewish culture”.  
   

On September 15th about 300 people came together to celebrate her life and honor her work. This is the presentation at that memorial event by Melanie's life partner, progressive political organizer Leslie Cagan. Leslie mentions a website with various writings about Melanie, on http://melaniekayekantrowitz.com/ which features a number of obituaries and a place to share your own rememberance. Melanie was awarded a "risk taker" award in 2013.

The Remarkable Life of Eddie Hatcher, Gay Indigenous Political Prisoner  (1948-2009)

(This is the first part of the 9-10 PM Out-FM show -- progressive LGBTQ news, culture, analysis, cohosted this week by Bob Lederer and John Riley)


Guests:

Dr. Malinda Maynor Lowery, Associate Professor of History and Director, Center for the Study of the American South, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, author of the new book, The Lumbee Indians: An American Struggle, and herself a Lumbee

Dr. Mab Segrest, Professor Emeritus of Gender and Women's Studies at Connecticut College, author of, among other books, the classic Memoirs of a Race Traitor, largely about her work as a white lesbian activist with North Carolinians Against Racist and Religious Violence in the 1980s


Host: Bob Lederer

This segment is another in our continuing series spotlighting courageous LGBTQ activists who took great risks to fight for radical change, not necessarily including the issue of gay rights, and faced or served prison time as a result -- and in some cases, became political prisoners.

In this segment, our guests will tell the story of the late Eddie Hatcher, a gay Tuscarora activist in Robeson County, North Carolina, a very poor rural area with a large majority population of African Americans and indigenous people. The late 1980s witnessed over 20 unsolved murders of Black and Native peoples and the refusal of law enforcement to find the killers and bring them to justice, sometimes because those killers were themselves cops or sheriffs. These deaths were closely tied to a culture of government corruption connected to the drug trade.

In the face of unending racist brutality, Eddie Hatcher became one of many local residents -- Tuscarora, Lumbee, Black, and white – who formed a reform group called Concerned Citizens for Better Government that pressured local government to address these problems. In 1988, Eddie, then 30, seeing the ineffectiveness of these methods and fearing for his life after obtaining a document that suggested involvement of many local officials in the drug trade, teamed up with a 19-year-old fellow Tuscarora activist, Timothy Jacobs, and stormed the offices of the town’s daily newspaper. The two held 20 staff members at gunpoint for ten hours. They released the hostages unharmed after the North Carolina Governor agreed to their demand to appoint a task force to investigate “the unsolved murders of Indians, alleged drug trafficking, the county criminal justice system and conditions at the county jail.” The action brought national media attention to the entrenched racism and corruption of Robeson County.

Hatcher and Jacobs were charged under the then-new federal anti-terrorism act, and acquitted by a majority-Black jury. But then the state prosecuted them for kidnapping, a local jury convicted them, and they were sentenced to 18 years. In prison, Hatcher later told the national gay magazine The Advocate that he was exposed to HIV during unprotected gay sex in prison and almost died due to denial of adequate care. After 7 years, due to considerable nationwide pressure -- including from Amnesty International, the National Council of Churches and various Congressmembers -- Hatcher was released.

Yet just 6 years later, in 2001, Hatcher was again charged, this time with shooting to death a local resident from a truck 200 feet away from that person's house. Prosecutors sought the death penalty. He insisted on his innocence, and supporters said that the prosecution was retaliation for his early release and his more recent continued anti-corruption activism. Despite a lack of evidence, he was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Due to continuing inadequate medical care, Eddie Hatcher died of AIDS in prison in 2009 at the age of 51.

For more information on Eddie Hatcher's life, go to:

1999 brochure explaining legal cases, by Defense Committee:
http://freedomarchives.org/Documents/Finder/DOC510_scans/Native_Prisoners/510.eddie.hatcher.execution.date.pdf

UNC exhibit about the newspaper takeover by Hatcher & Jacobs:
https://exhibits.lib.unc.edu/exhibits/show/indians-take-back-robeson/background

Article in national HIV/AIDS magazine about Hatcher being openly gay and living with HIV:
https://www.poz.com/article/Hatch-a-Plan-7665-6388