I, Robert Fair, want you to know that I forgive you and the other officers for how we were treated in 1971. However, it is important that our story be told.
The Mississippi Highway Patrol officers would oftentimes set up roadblocks along Highway 22 in the rural area of Edwards, MS and harass Blacks, but when whites approached, they would exchange small talk with them and allow them to drive through. Whenever Blacks drove to a roadblock, the officers would rush to our vehicles and harass us by pointing their guns at us and, oftentimes, they would remove us from our vehicles and beat us.
In 1971, during a roadblock that was set up on Highway 22, in front of a local night club, I left the parking lot and drove on the gravel road across the highway.
When the officers heard my vehicle speed up, some of those officers came to the house that I’d parked at and yelled for me to come to them. When I complied, I was beaten and kicked. I said, “Lord, have mercy.” And they thought that was funny.
They handcuffed me with my hands behind by back, drove me back to the roadblock, and put me in the backseat of the patrol car where there was another Black man who was handcuffed behind his back. The other Black man had facial hair and one of the officers used wire pliers to pull his facial hairs out.
One of the officers put a shotgun against my face then asked, “N—–r, do you believe I’ll blow your brains out?” I said, “Yes sir.” Then he shoved the gun between my nose and lip, causing a skin tear.
Officer Dennis Abel would beat us because we couldn’t tell him what music played on his car radio. Whenever he and the other officers would ask the question and we tried to answer it, they’d hit us, then say to us, “Shut up n—-r.” When they’d ask a question we couldn’t answer, they’d say, “Don’t you hear me talking to you, n—–r?”
Three of us were taken to the Jackson jail and we were beaten as we walked up the flight of steps. When we got to the top of the steps, we were lined up against the wall. One of the officers said to me, “Come here n—-r.” As I walked forward, he clapped his hands against both of my ears, then he used the other officers to brace himself as he kicked me in the stomach.
One of the Black men was cut after he was kicked into a glass door and had to be taken to the hospital. We were taken into the room where there was a tall, bald-headed fellow that booked us in. He said, “Looks like you got a bunch of savages here. You should have killed these n—–s and saved me the trouble.” Then, one of the officers that had been beating us asked, “What are we going to charge these n—–s with?”
Officer Reese Schultz, if I recalled his last name correctly, wrote all of the tickets.
To my understanding, everyone that pulled up to the roadblock and was arrested that night was charged with reckless driving. While on the elevator, headed to a cell to be jailed overnight, one of the officers backed up toward me and said, “There’s my gun n—-r; you wanna grab it?”
Again, although the story needed to be told, I want you to know that I forgive you and the other officers for how we were treated in 1971.