West Memphis revisited 

Race-divided city now finds blacks pitted against one another.

Page 7 of 7

Henderson, who is black, had been quoted in an Evening Times article earlier in the year as saying, "There is already a divide, not only on this [Democratic] committee, but in the whole county. ... We've got to come together."

Though Bob Paudert has moved on from the West Memphis Police Department, the reformers are not satisfied. They have a litany of complaints ranging from brutal, illegal searches to the reckless behavior of police that resulted in the wrongful deaths of six people, three black and three white. According to James Pulliaum, the new chief, Donald Oakes, has made improvements.

At the end of the day in Crittenden County, what constitutes an honest discussion about race seems to be in the eye of the beholder.

Grif Stockley is the author of "Ruled by Race: Black/White Relations in Arkansas from Slavery to the Present" published in 2008 by the University of Arkansas Press. He is completing a book about the 1959 fire at the Negro Boys Industrial School.


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