I have two very important reasons why I am writing this article! One is because my family never got justice for this egregious mistake. The second being, that if these obvious disregards of the law were covered up by the very people that are sworn to uphold it, that means there wasn’t anything done to correct and this is a big part of the reason why this still occurs today 40 years later. If we can spare another family the pain that this type of injustice has caused us it will have been worth it.
I have to say that I think that what happened to Milton & our family is extremely tragic. I think what is even more tragic is that his story is not unique. These tragic events happen so often in African American society that Black parents have two rules for their sons.
1. Do not be disrespectful to police.
2. If being detained by the police do not fight because it is more than likely to lead to their death.
Even when following these rules it is not always enough. I read a story while doing research on this article that broke my heart. A black home owner called police to report a burglary. Apparently, the homeowner’s 14 year old son was at home during the break in and hid in the closet. The police found 14 year old hiding in the closet and shot and killed him.http://openjurist.org/761/f2d/242/morrison-v-city-of-baton-rouge
I believe that the law should be respected. However, I also feel that law enforcement of any flavor as well as any elected officials should be held accountable for their actions & bad judgment just as any other American would have to. If they were held accountable there would be much less instances of excessive force and/or death, as well as corruption.
I have taken my liberties to add an excerpt from “Race & Democracy: The Civil Right Struggle in Louisiana from 1915-1972.” I wanted to show how prevalent law enforcement misconduct was in Louisiana during the civil rights movement and how often the agents involved were not held accountable.
The excerpt is as follows ” The killing of blacks by policemen presented the most egregious examples of alleged police brutality. These were also the cases most likely to move blacks to violent anger and least likely to incur legal retribution. In many cases, of course, policemen had to tackle armed and resisting suspects, situations that sometimes necessitated the use of lethal force.
Often, however, police shot and killed suspects who presented no physical threat, using flight or the slightest degree of resistance as a pretext for opening fire. “In this state,” Harvey Britton noted, “the mere suspicion that a Negro has committed a crime has proven to be sufficient reason for arresting officers to inflict bodily harm, and in many cases death.
”Actually, such grotesque overreaction was peculiar neither to Louisiana nor the South. Members of the Los Angeles Police Department, for example, routinely shot at fleeing suspects, killing and maiming dozens of people every year. Moreover, white politicians sanctioned such methods. As Baton Rouge district attorney Sargent Pitcher put it, “ I have always maintained that officers… are acting within the law when they have been forced to shoot at a fleeing felon.” Most whites, North and South, would heartily have endorsed this view. Juries everywhere were notoriously reluctant to indict or convict policemen accused of killing suspects, even if the latter turned out to be unarmed or innocent.
The fact that the policemen were far more likely to shoot blacks than whites underscored the belief, shared by virtually all black people, that the police placed little value on black lives and operated under a double standard of justice.
Some killings had so little justification that they occasionally shocked whites as well. A manager at a Shreveport steelworks witnessed the slaying of Ira Mason, a mentally disturbed black employee. “I would like…. to join you,” he wrote the local NAACP, “in bringing pressure on our Police Department to train and educate its members to handle situations such as these. I cannot in any way feel that Ira Mason had to be shot in order to subdue him.”
In Lafayette, a ringing burglar alarm brought police to a nightclub; battering the front door down, they killed the owner, Norbert “Baba” Landry, mistaking him for an intruder. A number of whites joined the NAACP in protesting the slaying. In New Orleans, the staff of the Human Relations Committee complained that the city’s police department continued to ignore suspect killings.
One particular police officer according to the City Attorney’s office – has killed six people in a year and a half. Two of the people were killed while the officer was off duty. Again, according to the City Attorney’s office, the last shooting was outright murder.”
This excerpt is about a book covering incidents in Louisiana from 1915-1972. Notice how similar this is to what is happening today almost a hundred years later? The only reason these issues are still prevalent today is because they were covered up in the past and never corrected. Hiding the truth does not change it. The book speaks of the time period from 1915-1972, however not much has changed in Louisiana to date. I spoke with a Louisiana state official concerning Milton’s death, & she told me as horrible as Milton’s death was, it so often happens in Louisiana people have become desensitized to it. Due to her statement I am very certain if there were a book named “Race & Democracy: The Civil Rights Struggle in Louisiana from 1972-2012 that the types of issues covered in the previous Race & Democracy would look about the same today. The only way we can learn from our mistakes it to first acknowledge them. I have added a few examples to make my point of.
http://www.louisianaweekly.com/cop-involved-in-fatal-shooting-makes-statement/ While noticing the number of fatal shootings by officers in LA of unarmed suspects in 2012, I decided to look into a case that involved my family and a fatal shooting by FBI agents that was covered up. The man that they were looking for was already in jail at the time the FBI destroyed our family. They even admitted their mistake & Yet haven’t done anything to rectify it.
Let me give you the back story that led to Milton’s death by the FBI in 1973. Milton had his identity stolen in 1972 by one Calvin Henry Wallace. Wallace used Milton’s identity to join the army in April of 72. There are lots unanswered questions in the handling of this case even though it occurred almost 40 years ago. The question is why 40 years later these questions still go unanswered even though it was investigated by the local police as well as the FBI? Calvin Henry Wallace joined the army in April of 1972 and ended up going AWOL in October of 1972. At this time unbeknownst to Milton, he was being watched by the FBI because of his religious affiliations. There is a report that shows Milton Leon Scott attended a Nation Of Islam meeting on 7/23/72 in Baton Rouge, LA. Which supports he was in fact being followed.
If having your identity stolen was not bad enough, Can you imagine how much worst it would be if it cost you your life? This is exactly what happened to Milton. On July 18, 1973, at 11:25am at a little shotgun house in Baton Rouge.
The morning of July 18, 1973, was supposed to be a normal day for Milton Scott. The former LSU Athletic Department employee said good-bye to his pregnant wife and daughter as he left to distribute Muhammad Speaks newspapers in the early morning hours closing the door of his home on Alaska St that proudly displayed a brass plaque centered on the front door that read “Milton X.” Scott was a 21-year-old Black Muslim. Scott returned home later in the morning. Shortly thereafter Special Agents Delbert W. Hahn & William B Woods of the FBI knocked on his door and told him he was under arrest for desertion from the U.S. Army.
Milton sold Muhammad Speaks newspapers, a publication for the Nation of Islam community. Scott had informed his wife he was being watched by “two white guys” as he went from corner to corner each day. Beverly stated Milton told her of several incidents when he was being watched or followed. Milton also stated “ The men never spoke to me, only followed me for two weeks. He didn’t know at the time they were FBI agents. He also stated “Whatever corner I go to, I look and they’re there,” his wife (Beverly) recalled him saying. “But they’re just stare. They don’t bother me.” They did not know what it was about at the time, but needless to say, it made them uneasy.
Milton mentioned that he thought he was being watched or even targeted by the government because of his religious affiliation. Black Muslims were accused of inciting deadly riots in Baton Rouge months earlier also known as The Black Muslim riot in which seven persons were killed in a gun battle with police. WBRZ anchor/reporter Robert Johnson was injured so badly that he spent the remaining years of his life in a nursing home. He died in 2011.
On February 18, 1973, the young couple Milton 21 and his wife Beverly 25 lost their 5 year old son (Andre) due to a tumor. This sadly was not to be the only grave loss the family suffered that year. On July 18, 1973, FBI Special Agents Delbert W. Hahn and William B Wood, came to the Scott’s home shortly after he got home from selling newspapers, to arrest Milton for deserting the US Army. Beverly claimed that the officers asked her husband if he was Milton Scott, & he said yes. The officers then proceeded to tell Milton he was under arrest for deserting the US Army. Milton told the two officers that he was not then nor had never been in the army. Then he informed the officers that they could not enter his home with the weapons they were carrying because of his pregnant wife and young daughter then closed the door.
The officers then proceeded to kick the door open which made them aggressors in the situation because without a warrant it was within Milton’s rights to deny them entry. Without a warrant, no government agent is allowed to enter or search your home, office (or any other place that is yours and private) The fact that they kicked in the door without a warrant is a clear violation of Scott’s civil rights.
Beverly claims the officers then dragged Milton from their home in the front of her (Scott’s pregnant wife) and their two year old daughter Andrea. Once outside a scuffled ensued which was witnessed at least in part by Milton’s neighbors, his wife, and three sanitation workers.
The Agents claimed when they kicked in the door Milton rushed them and tried to take their weapon, which is what led to him being first clubbed (hard enough to fracture his skull), shot twice and a kick in the back. According to Beverly the officers kicked in the door and dragged Milton outside and that is when the struggle ensued. Yet the agents claimed when they kicked in the door he rushed them in an attempt to get their weapons.
According to the FOIA one of the sanitation workers claimed they witnessed a black man pushing two white men off of the front porch and shortly thereafter heard two shots. He & his co-worker then ran to the truck and drove away.
The delegates of the black caucus claimed when they spoke to the Regional Director of the FBI Donald Moore & Head of the Baton Rouge FBI division Elmer Lichtfield concerning Scott and the fact that he was killed trying to defend his rights and stated that they were arrogant, insensitive & did not answer questions about if Hahn & Wood followed proper procedure. Nor did they answer if the agents had obtained a warrant of any kind prior to going arrest Milton. They also did not answer the question of why they didn’t have a photo of the man in question to make sure that the man they were looking for & the man they found were one & the same.
In reply to being called arrogant & insensitive Donald Moore made this statement “At the outset of the meeting with THESE BLACK PEOPLE, I indicated my sympathies & that it was indeed a tragedy. Just the fact that the agent said I told these black people, shows he was indeed being arrogant & insensitive. Moore then made the same claim that Hahn & Wood didn’t know Milton was a Muslim until they approached the house. Yet in Hahn’s report he said the instant Scott charged out of the door & he recognized the chant “Allah Akabar” is when he realized Scott was Muslim. Again due to the FOIA we know that this is indeed false.
The FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) stated that Special Agent Hahn had come to Baton Rouge the January of 72 to investigate the Black Muslim riot. The FOIA also shows that Milton was under surveillance since the summer of 72. You can see from the FOIA I have listed here that the report said Milton was a black Muslim, that he was not extreme in his beliefs and he mainly stayed to himself. All these things were noted on July 23, 1972 before Wallace (Scott) had even gone AWOL from the army. Which all points to the fact that they knew exactly who the real Milton was.
With that being said why did Special Agent Hahn claim that it wasn’t known Milton was a Black Muslim until they saw the plaque on his door that read Milton X? Hahn also stated that during his inquiry of the Black Muslims in January of 72 after the riot that he was impressed with the Black Muslims fanatic dedication to their Islamic teachings. I also want to point out Hahn had been watching Black Muslims due to the riot investigation, so it stands to reason he would have known that Black Muslims did not join the army due to their religion convictions that he claimed amazed him so.http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,905651,00.html During the black Muslim riot, two of the local cops died, as well as two of the Black Muslims. 31 others were also injured during the riot. Milton had been a Black Muslim at the time of his death. I don’t know if there is any correlation between the two of these incidents. However this goes a long way to show the level of racial tension that the area was experiencing. A list of contents from Scott’s (Wallace’s) military file was shipped to Fort Benjamin Harrison. It contained fingerprints, a photograph, medical & dental records. It also shows that they were trying to get Scott (Wallace) recommended for separation from the army because of drug dependency & was a constant disciplinary problem. It was determined when Scott (Wallace )went AWOL that he was being considered for a chapter 13 medical discharge. He was described by his superiors & contemporaries alike as being apathetic, lethargic & did not care for army service. So if they were trying to kick him out why go through all of the trouble to label him as a deserter?
Hahn also stated that the Muslims told him while they do not carry weapons they had no qualms with attacking police and using every weapon at their disposal. Given Hahn’s history with Black Muslims prior to going into this situation he had preconceived notions, it is reasonable to believe that this was more the reason Hahn hit Milton with the Billy Club hard enough to fracture his skull and shot him twice than the fact that Milton attacked him?
In the autopsy report other than his fractured skull and the two bullet wounds he sustained during the incident with the agents, the only other fresh wound Milton had was a small laceration on the little finger on his left hand. If he was fighting the officers enough to warrant being clubbed hard enough to fracture his skull and then shot twice because because they feared for their life, why didn’t Milton have more wounds?
How could a man of such small statue as Milton 5’7.5”149 lbs and barefoot beat up two armed and trained FBI agents who both were at least 6 feet tall and out weighed him by at least 40 lbs? Why would they have had a need to club him with their billy club hard enough to fracture his skull & then shoot him twice? Beverly (Scott’s widow) claims one of the shots came while Milton was on the ground and incapacitated. She asked the agents why did they shoot him when he was already down and the agents threatened to do the same to her and their two-year-old daughter too if they did not keep back.
Add this to the fact that the FOIA in one report stated the FBI didn’t question witnesses because the area where the incident occurred was a known hot spot for Black Muslim activity and they didn’t want to have to deal with another incident like what happened with Scott. Only to later come back and say they tried to question Scott’s wife but she was hostile in the same FOIA. If that wasn’t bad enough there is also another statement in the FOIA that says they didn’t question her because they did not want her to try and claim intimidation. None of these are valid reasons not to try and get all eye witness accounts involving this matter. So the question now becomes why did not questioning the witnesses seem like the right thing to do? The only reason I could think of for this is that they didn’t want to know what they saw or witnessed. This also shows that even 40 years later using self defense as a means to commit murder on innocent people is highly effective, especially when witness accounts are disregarded by law enforcement agencies
Mrs Scott wants justice because she lost her husband as well as the father of her children. All due the fact that several someones in the FBI and the DOJ did their jobs incompetently which cost Milton his life and also kept his family from getting the justice they were due. Because instead of them owning their mistakes they were to busy trying to cover their own butts.
A list of contents from Scott’s (Wallace’s) military file was shipped to Ft. Benjamin Harrison. It contained fingerprints, a photograph, medical & dental records. It also shows that they were trying to get Scott (Wallace) recommended for separation from the army because of drug dependency & he was a constant disciplinary problem. It was determined when Scott (Wallace) went AWOL that he was being considered for a chapter 13 medical discharge. He was described by his superiors & contemporaries alike as being apathetic, lethargic, a constant disciplinary problem & he did not care for army service. With this being the case then why go through all of the hassle of calling him a deserter? Was this really about Wallace AKA Scott deserting or was this a retaliation for brothers in arms that died at the hand of Black Muslim?
Why wouldn’t the FBI have had a picture of the man they were looking for to positively ID him? Why kick in his door during their investigation without first getting a warrant from the DA as proper procedure dictates? Basically what it means is that SA Hahn & Wood committed a crime while trying to apprehend someone they believed had commit one. Milton paid for their crime with his life and Hahn and Wood got away with murder & with the government’s blessing. I say with the government’s blessing because they didn’t even have the agents appear during the grand jury trial of which they were the major components of. How can two agents involved in a shooting not appear during the trial of said shooting especially with claims of foul play? In a statement according to Donald W Moore, the head of the FBI in Louisiana claimed the agents had Scott’s picture and it matched the suspect. Only for Moore to come back later and say that the agents did not have the picture of Scott at the time of his death and, sometimes their department is the last to receive this type of info. Then the question becomes why not wait until you have everything you need before acting? Like a warrant and proper ID so innocent people do not die and the witnesses are not traumatized for life.
In short, I think that this incident should be reopened to find out why the Scott family never got even an apology for their loss, let alone justice? To make matters worse according to a reliable source Agent Hahn was later forced to retire from the FBI due to unethical practices. While Agent Wood was on trial in 2004 for coercing Myrtle Poor Bear in 76 to sign affidavits against her will by showing her pictures of Anna Mae Aquash’s dead body and telling her they would do the same to her and could get away with it because they were the FBI. I have added links in regards to the Leonard Peltier, Anna Mae Aquash & Myrtle Poor Bear to support the pattern that Wood had.
Was there even a warrant for Milton’s arrest? Why was there no photo to be sure that the man the FBI were looking for were one and the same? What if there were more than one man named Milton Scott? Would they have rounded them all up and shot or arrested them? Was the normal procedure for finding a deserter used in Milton’s case? Was he singled out because the FBI was targeting Black Muslims or just Black men in general? In 1969, there was a rash of slayings of young black men in the Baton Rouge area by law officials. Then with the Black Muslim riot in 1972, I think either could be possible.
Who polices the police? How do situations like this keep getting swept under the rug? Until the officials sworn to uphold the law are governed by the same laws and standards they hold civilians to sadly it will continue to happen.
There are several events which place Scott in Baton Rouge during the period of 1972-1973, including his work, change of residence and application for a marriage license and reports from FBI that shows they were watching him. The Baton Rouge riots were protests organized by members of the African-American community, including Black Muslims organizers, many from Chicago.The political climate in Baton Rouge in 1973 was not hospitable to blacks, most especially Black Muslims.
There has been no public inquiry into the shooting and no further acknowledgment of the matter by any government agency. The question again is why?
Beverly says she hired a total of five lawyers to look into her husband’s death, three of whom died in questionable accidents while investigating the case. “It was very strange how every lawyer I obtained, something fatal happened to them.”Beverly & her family are looking for closure in this matter and believe their husband and father never received the justice he deserved. “We have always heard that justice delayed is justice denied,” It has been 40 years, but the fact that we are making progress in Milton’s death has now given us hope anew.” Please share this story! Help our family get the justice and closure they have waited so long for. Alone in this battle will make it much harder to bring it back into the light to get the closure we need. However, with the help of friends, family & people who just want to do the right helping we can accomplish much.