The tragic drowning of 3 black young people throughout a Juneteenth pageant in Texas in 1981

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The tragic drowning of three black teenagers during a Juneteenth festival in Texas in 1981

Hundreds of residents at Mexia, Texas had been on June 19, 1981, celebrating at a festival commemorating the releasing of slaves when a tragedy happened. That night, a few adolescents, who have been arrested on suspicion of using tobacco marijuana at the Juneteenth festival, drowned while being transported in a boat with a few legislation enforcement officers throughout a lake.

The teens, Carl Baker, 19 Steven Booker, 19, and Anthony Freeman, 18, were stated to be handcuffed when the boat ferrying them capsized, even however authorities preserved that their handcuffs were being eradicated before they were positioned on the boat.

On the night of the arrest, the adolescents were at Comanche Crossing, which rests on the shore of Lake Mexia, for the Juneteenth celebration, marking the day in 1865 when Texas slaves heard they ended up absolutely free. 

Booker, Freeman and Baker had been arrested that evening by deputies Kenny Elliott and Kenneth Archie, a black male. Probation officer David Drummond accompanied them.

There was a two-lane bridge more than Commanche Crossing at Lake Mexia but it was blocked by about 5,000 celebrants on the shore. Hence, the officers resolved to use a smaller aluminum fishing boat to ferry the young adults throughout Lake Mexia to patrol vehicles some 200 yards away on the other facet of the lake, about 80 miles southeast of Dallas, in accordance to stories.

But about 40 feet into the lake, the boat began taking on water and it capsized. The young people, who were being not provided lifestyle vests alongside statements that they had been handcuffed, drowned.

White officers
Elliott and Drummond swam to shore whilst black deputy Archie was rescued.
Archie afterwards explained he was upset that folks on shore couldn’t
assist.

“Thirty, forty, fifty people today or far more have been there … but did not none of them shift,” he explained. The bodies of Baker and Freeman were pulled from the lake Saturday though that of Booker was uncovered Sunday.

An eyewitness, Arthur Beachum Jr., stated he saw searchers clear away handcuffs from Baker’s human body prior to bringing it onshore.

“I observed them pull the human body from the lake and it even now experienced the handcuffs
on it,” Beachum said. “One officer took them off and place them in his pocket.”

Baker’s brother, Anthony, also wondered how his brother could have drowned. “My brother could swim,” he stated.

When Freeman’s entire body was located, news reporters stated officials circled it
with 3 boats right before pulling it from the water.

“They shielded the physique from our cameras onshore. They took a when ahead of they pulled the human body out, but we couldn’t see what they have been performing,” explained a Texas television reporter.

Booker’s mother, Virginia Nelson, also strike hard at authorities
for putting the youngsters on a boat.

“They should really
tell us some much more. I want to know if they were being handcuffed and why they did not
have on existence jackets.”

“They didn’t
have any small business placing them in that boat. They could have walked them all over
to the motor vehicle,” she explained.

Authorities indicated that no life jackets ended up in the boat mainly because they have been not anticipating any unique arrests at such a collecting, or that a boat would have to be applied.

A calendar year following the incident, an all-white jury acquitted the a few regulation enforcement officials who had been in the boat with the youngsters soon after they ended up found not responsible of criminally negligent murder.

They have been, nonetheless, suspended from their jobs. To day, thoughts encompassing the deaths of the young people have contributed to the ambiance of suspicion between legislation enforcement officials and the black group.