In Memory of Leo Coleman Jr., and His 1997 Suspicious Death: ‘It’s About Time!’

Demonstrators briefly gathered for a photo, but practiced social distancing for most of the evening. Photos by Annelise Pierce.

Wednesday night, June 17, in the sleepy, small town of Anderson, Calif’, almost three dozen people gathered in memory of Leo Coleman Jr.

His suspicious 1997 death, by hanging at age 31, is still an open case with the Anderson Police Department. While the case was officially ruled a suicide by the police, many feel it was more likely he was lynched. An article about Coleman’s death, published in March of 1998 by the Commemorator, a Black Panther publication, indicates that no autopsy was done (despite promises made to the family) because the coroner had never done an autopsy on a black man. According to that article, Coleman’s father found swastikas and other racist Aryan symbols etched into the wood of the trees surrounding where his son’s body was found, but when he returned to the site later, the etchings had been obscured.

Wednesday night, Leo Coleman Jr.’s daughter, Taneisha Coleman, stood on the curb in front of Anderson Police Department in a white shirt with her father’s name written on it in black Sharpie. She was alternately tearful, hugging friends, and proud, smiling and cheering as passing cars honked and held up raised fists. She said she wholeheartedly supported the community coming together for the memorial event, meant to shed light on the tragic death of her father. Her family’s goal, she said, was to encourage those who have information about Leo Coleman’s death to bring it into the light.

Stan Lowrence, holding a sign next to his wife Kat, said of the community’s recent attention to Leo Coleman’s death, “It’s about time!” Both said they feel that the case has not been taken seriously enough, and they want to see justice done for Leo Coleman Jr. and his family.

The event’s organizer, Chris Solberg, was happy with the turnout. “It’s so peaceful,” he said. “There’s no yelling, no screaming. This is a memorial. I’m really happy the family are here.”

A driver stops to drop off water for demonstrators. He told Richard Keiser, the demonstrator holding the water, that he is a retired police officer who believes in the cause of protestors.

Minister Kennith Schjoth Jr., of St. Marks Ministry Baptist Church, also stood with a sign and with his right fist raised. Schjoth said he believes the religious leaders around Shasta County need to come out and support the people during the protests for black equality. He seems to be serving by example as he’s participated in six protests since George Floyd’s death.

“The young people here give me hope for our future,” Schjoth said.

One of those young people to whom Schjoth referred is Heather Fullmer. She’s been protesting at City Hall every night for weeks, raising attention for racial inequality and police brutality.

Regarding Leo Coleman’s suspicious death, Fullmer said, “This is one of the stories I heard that really made a difference. We walked to this curb from my house. You can’t get away from that. Everyone knows it’s right here at our doorstep. Anderson needs this protest.”

Heather Fullmer wears a t shirt a friend made in memory of Leo Coleman Jr. The QR code on the shirt links to the Black Panther article about Coleman’s death.

A woman who asked not to be identified said she’s always cared about racial justice, but the issue became personal to her recently when one of her own grandchildren experienced racist treatment when visiting her at work.

“Big things happen because the little things are allowed to happen,” she said. “When little kids can be called the N-word it’s systemic.”

Ruth Jones, a long-time friend of the Coleman family, holds a sign with a picture of Leo Coleman Jr.

Ruth Jones was at the memorial with a sign that depicted a photo of Leo Coleman Jr. Jones told the group she met Coleman’s parents, Ernestine and Leo Coleman Sr., shortly after moving to the area in 1964. She spoke tearfully of how hard it’s been for Ernestine.

“She’s been through a lot.” Jones said. “It’s not easy for someone to take your child and not get justice. You want to know what happened to your child. A lot of people want to push things under the rug, but it’s not supposed to be like that. We would like to see justice come.”

Although Anderson Police Chief Mike Johnson did not attend the Wednesday night event, he released a statement following the protest. Johnson said he’s paid careful attention to Leo Coleman Jr.’s suspicious death since arriving at the Anderson Police Department (APD) in 2013. In January 2020, he said, APD assigned their most senior and experienced investigator to the Coleman case.

“The men and women of APD care about this community and are committed to uncovering the truth, seeking justice, and serving without bias, prejudice, or regard. We will continue to investigate this matter and vet out all information, leads, and suspects before rendering a final disposition.”

Individuals with any information related to Leo Coleman Jr.’s death are asked to contact the Anderson Police Department.

Annelise Pierce
Annelise Pierce is fascinated by the intersection of people and policy. She has a special interest in criminal justice, poverty, mental health and education. Her long and storied writing career began at age 11 when she won the Louisa May Alcott Foundation's Gothic Romance short story competition. (Spoiler alert - both hero and heroine die.) Annelise welcomes your (civil) interactions at AnnelisePierce@anewscafe.com
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110 Responses

  1. Avatar bruce vojtecky says:

    I imagine someone will point out the Black Panther article was in 1998 not 1988.

  2. Avatar Vivian Dawson says:

    To: Leo Jr’s parents. Sincere Sympathy, 23 years late.
    In 1979-’80, it was my pleasure to have Leo in one of my English
    classes at Sequoia. He was such a nice person. It is never acceptable
    when a ‘child’ dies before the parents. Whatever the reason, it will
    never leave you, Mr and Mrs. Coleman. As much as possible, focus
    on the wonderful memories of Leo, Jr. I do also.

  3. Frank Treadway Frank Treadway says:

    A Secret Witness Fund needs to be set up for this horrible incident.

  4. Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

    A young black man is found hanging from a tree in a rural area. There is no note. You’re the Sheriff/Coroner. Your working hypothesis/assumption until it is suitably falsified is: (1) suicide, or (2) lynching.

    Show of hands. I’ll go first.

    Lynching

    I am NOT saying that Leo Coleman Jr. was lynched, because of course I don’t know. I’m only saying that until lynching has been definitively ruled out, that’s the potential cause that I doggedly pursue as Sheriff/Coroner, and the case isn’t closed until I’m damned sure that’s not what happened.

    That kind of investigation is clearly not what occurred.

    • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

      Good write-up. However, I believe this case was actually closed three days after Leo Coleman’s body was found. Any current investigation will obviously be hindered by the fact that no autopsy was performed, for which there was no legitimate excuse.

      Shasta County’s long, sordid history of racism was still very much a reality at the time of this hanging. The MLK area (to which the local Black population was largely confined until about 15 years ago, when the City’s vast gentrification activities forced many of them from their homes, with nowhere to go) was the most neglected part of town in terms of services and upkeep. At one point local officials decided to “improve” the area by constructing barriers in the middle of the streets. According to an acquaintence who worked for the police department (although I admit I have no first-hand verification of this claim), the purpose of these barriers was to limit the movement of residents the police wished to interrogate.

      Several years ago I spoke with a young woman who still cried when she recounted a field trip she took with her grade-school class during the same general period to swim in the pool of a local fraternal organization. As the only Black child in her class she was forced to sit on the sidelines and watch as her classmates enjoyed the pool, since Black people weren’t allowed (that policy has since changed, although much more recently than it should have). There are – unfortunately – many more examples.

      • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

        About 2.5 decades ago when I first hit town, an Gomer acquaintance said, “The n****** in Redding were fine when they knew their place.” I sat in stunned silence for a beat, wondering if I’d heard that right. His Goober friend quickly interjected, “You sound like a dumb-ass rube from Cottonwood.” I was satisfied with the put-down by his friend, from whom a rebuke would have meant something.

        Upon recollection, I think the Goober friend might have meant, “Dude, you don’t say shit like that in front of a guy like this (meaning me). He’s one of those lib college boys from the big city.”

        When I think on it like that, a part of me wishes I’d just broken Gomer’s nose. That would have made the proper impression—something he could have understood.

        • Avatar Linda Cooper says:

          Steve, really, I’m glad you didn’t break a nose. Meanwhile, referring to your post, I have some friends that think I’m lucky my house burned, and I got out of Dodge. Also, when I first arrived in (old) Shasta in 1992, after a re-organization with State Parks I had to deal with the fact that I was a (gasp) museum curator. Over and over. People of color, curators, etc. we are a group to be feared for sure. I am so sorry for this family.

        • Avatar John Dunlap says:

          Mr. Towers, I am fairly new to aNC but I have read your articles and expect you are granted some credibility.

          Prior to making my observation I wish to state the following. In the 1950’s I was serving in the military in Asia when Emmett Till was lynched. That effected most of us hugely, and still does. In addition the fellow that worked next to me was black, if that is a currently a proper word. He was a teacher with a advanced degree. He was very much respected in our organization, but I did know he was subject to some discrimination elsewhere. We all grieved over Emmett and that could occur in the country we were defending, and spoke out about it.

          Now I find your comments appalling. “. . I think the Goober friend might have meant . .” then you impose your unsupported interpretation that supported your public, unsupported diatribe. Then identifying your support of violence ” . . wishes I’d just broken Gomer’s nose. . . something he could have understood.” In between, you took the comment from the observer that chastised the jerk, and then again interpreted to once again support your premise.

          Mr. Towers, because of your public presentations, I now publicly identify you as a major part of the problems we are facing. Your bias in freely interpreting the comments of others as it suits you and embracing and promoting violence should have some level of confidence in your future presentations if there are any.

          I respect aNC and its editor, and regret this is my first comment posted.

          • Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

            I don’t understand your reaction to Steve’s post.

          • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

            Wanting to take a swing at someone who says “The n*****s in Redding were fine when they knew their place” seems like a perfectly reasonable reaction to me. There was also nothing about that remark that was open to “interpretation”, or that left anything at all to the imagination.

          • Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

            John Dunlap, if you’re still around to read, I have to point out that I’ve never hit a man first in my life. But have I ever reflected back and thought, “a part of me wishes I’d just broken xxxxx’s nose”? Oh, hell yeah. Admitting to such sentiments is not the same as advocating violence. Most of us would probably be incarcerated if we were devoid of impulse control.

            As for the Gomer and Goober labels, I agree that we shouldn’t toss ’em around too casually, even though white folks ain’t exactly a persecuted minority–although some NASCAR fans no doubt feel persecuted because they no longer get to see Confederate flag likenesses whirl around a race track.

  5. Avatar Ted Woodward says:

    There were no ligature marks or defensive wounds on the hands, arms, or legs (they had not been bound nor did they show signs of a struggle); the evidence of supposed “torture” was consistent with 10+ days of wildlife feeding on soft tissue; and those racist markings were found 60 yards away.

    In the weeks since George Floyd’s death 3 black men across the US have been found dead hanging from trees with many people jumping to the conclusion that they surely must be lynchings. It seems the only way people accept the possibility of suicide is when the event is captured on video, as it was with Malcolm Harsch.

    Despite the myth of rarity, black suicide rates have skyrocketed since the 80s and, like whites, hanging is the second most common method behind firearms. Less than 1% of hanging deaths are homicide and those almost always show signs of a struggle or victim incapacitation.

    Then consider how many people must have been in on the conspiracy for it to have been a lynching. Two witnesses, half a dozen police officers, two detectives, the coroner, and the Allan & Dahl funeral home – plus the perpetrators! If you hear hoof beats think horses, not zebras…

    • Avatar Joanne Snyder says:

      Saying that there were no ligature marks or defensive wounds on the hands, arms and legs is hearsay since no autopsy was performed by a qualified medical examiner.

      • Avatar Ted Woodward says:

        No, such markings would have been readily apparent from even a cursory external observation. There was a very thorough external examination which did note Coleman’s cut and previously scarred wrists, the location and direction of which were clearly self-inflicted rather than defensive. A witness even confirmed Coleman had admitted to prior suicide attempts by cutting his wrists and had seemed sad when she dropped him off days before he went missing. He had declined her offer to seek help from a mental health professional.

        Aside from the external examination, the coroner also ran a urine toxicology screen which showed methamphetamine & cocaine. He was unable to run the blood due to Coleman’s exsanguination.

        Full autopsies are not generally performed when the the cause of death is obvious, as it was here. The family can request an autopsy, but they never filed such a request.

        Cowardly racists did send the family an awful drawing depicting a lynching, but only after the newspaper had reported on the suicide. And there were racist markings found 150+ feet from the body, but they were old. The damage to Coleman’s nose & lips was consistent with bird feeding, his skin coloring was consistent with exsanguination, and his penis showed normal postmortem sloughing consistent with 10+ days of exposure to November temperatures.

        In short, this was clearly a suicide from a depressed young man who had made previous attempts yet declined to get help.

        • Avatar Chad Magnuson says:

          Ted,
          If the coroner did not know how to perform an autopsy on a black guy, how would he know there were no ligature marks.

          Can we really trust any official account of the events?

          • Avatar Ted Woodward says:

            The examination was performed by Gerald Shearman not Ray Bailey, the man to whom the Commemorator attributed that statement. Both were perfectly capable of performing an autopsy on anyone, regardless of race.

            The Commemorator seems to conflate the coroner, office staff, and funeral directors so I won’t even hazard a guess where that statement originated.

        • Avatar Leslie says:

          How convenient to murder an already depressed man, no autopsy is done, and strong encouragement to cremate the evidence hung from a tree in a redneck racist communty in an area of White Supremacy markings etched in the trees. My cousin did not hang himself, I know what he said to my brother before he was killed.

  6. Avatar Doug Cook says:

    After the death of George Floyd, for a few days everyone was in agreement. We all saw the tape. We were all outraged, America would totally accept protests and demonstrations, would understand expressions of anger and pain. But what happened?

    We lost the messaging, What Americans wouldn’t accept was looting, violence, arson. We’re now supposed to hate cops. No. Hate bad cops, help good ones. A great cop does as much to help society as a great doctor or nurse, and is in the line of fire. We have lost the messaging folks…We have white anarchists taking over parts of Seattle for what? To protest police brutality? To help black Americans? Defund the police is the new cause…although everyone disagrees with what that actually means. Biden came out against defunding the police, and ironically so did Stacy Abrams. Why? Because she wants to be his VP. Only 15% of Americans want to defund the police, not a campaign issue winner.

    Nothing but distractions and lack of messaging. The BLM movement has turned into cancel culture. Empty gestures. Does it make those that are victims of police brutality feel better that Gone with the Wind is off the air? Or Live PD? Is that going to solve any problem? How about we take a serious meaningful look at the problem, let’s look towards the future, not the past. Why go back 23 years to dig up Mr Coleman’s death? In the necropsy report, an interview was done with a friend of Coleman that stated he was depressed and “acting very sad.” The friend noticed cuts on his wrist, “…Barker asked Coleman Jr. what happened to his wrist and he said that he was very upset and had tried to cut his wrist and end the problem,” “…Barker asked Coleman if he wanted to get mental health treatment, but he declined help, the report says. Instead, she drove him to Martin Luther King Jr. Park in Redding and dropped him off. That was the last time she saw him, ”

    If APD wants to reopen the case, ok…go ahead. But what will it do to fix the current situation? I brought up the idea that Gov’t Service unions help keep bad cops from being fired, If a bad cop does get fired or leaves a dept…the union makes it easier for a bad cop to switch depts. Isn’t that what we want to do? Get rid of the bad cops and reward the good cops? Of course when I brought the subject up, it was roundly dismissed. Can we agree that education is important? Only about half of black boys will graduate high school? Haven’t heard much talk about that? Because apparently it is more important to tear down statues of Thomas Jefferson. How about having a discussion about Charter schools? Vouchers to improve the opportunities of our inner city kids to get an education? Is the family structure an issue? Is anyone bringing up the 73% unwed mothers in the black community? Does anyone bring up the genocide of young black men on our city streets? Why do we ignore the 600 black men killed in Chicago every year? If that happened in a white neighborhood…the National Guard would be called out.

    If you want to focus on Mr Coleman…fine, go ahead. But don’t pretend you are making any difference in today’s current situation. Let’s look to the future, not looking at the past.

    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      Holding racists accountable for heinous past crimes isn’t a waste of time. We were still pursuing Nazi war criminals decades after WWII.

      I remember reading the Sheriff’s Office report, including the coroner’s report, for an RPD shooting a decade ago. I was shocked—absolutely aghast—at how far the report went to whitewash the shooting. Particularly shocking was the disconnect between the report’s
      description of the deceased multiple bullet wounds, and the medical examiner’s sketch. I put close to zero stock in what was put in a report by local LE more than two decades ago.

      I applaud Chief Johnson for his interest in this unresolved case

      • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

        Doug Cook,

        You seem to have missed the national articles pointing out that the federal intelligence community has determined white supremacist groups are largely responsible for the violence and destruction at these protests, in an efforts to discredit BLM and its cause.

        And I learned long ago not to believe everything published in the Record Searchlight, and/or claimed by local officials.

      • Avatar Bill Vercammen says:

        “I applaud Chief Johnson for his interest in this unresolved case.”

        Given the unresolved circumstances, the current racial agenda, and the state of today’s political scene, I’d say it was an obligatory call, and perhaps the first of many concessions we will see going forward.

        I was just coming of politically cognitive age during the civil rights movement of the ’60s, and this all smacks of Déjà Vu to me. The residual crises, remediations, and attempts at conciliatory politics lasted the best part of a decade. In hindsight, many positives were logged, but at great cost especially to businesses that were compelled to create a mandate for affirmative action compliance, modifying hiring and compensation practices, but that had been long overdue by any standard. All JMO…

    • Avatar jeff says:

      How about having a discussion about Charter schools? Vouchers to improve the opportunities of our inner city kids to get an education?
      Kindly tell me how this is going to change the overall structure of education in this country. So, you give a kid a voucher, her waitress mother piles her into the family Volvo and drives her into the next school district so she can get a better education. Meanwhile the school in the poorer district gets their budget cut again due to the loss of another student and the kids left in that Charter Schools and vouchers will solve the problem of under funded school districts. The answer here is to fundamentally change the way we provide funding to the schools. Why is it that here in Shasta county that the schools in the Gateway district don’t get the same funding as schools in more affluent districts.

      • Avatar Doug Cook says:

        That’s fine, Jeff…then let’s have that discussion. We aren’t though. I’m fine with changing how we fund education. Let’s do both, let’s give parents the choice. What’s wrong with that? We are lucky in Shasta that we have pretty good schools..my kids got a pretty good education in public schools. But what if you are in Baltimore? In fourth and eighth grade reading, only 13 percent of city students are considered proficient; Only 15 of the 141 city schools met federally mandated progress goals in reading and math. What if you are a parent in Baltimore? Wouldn’t you want a better chance to educate your children?

        I have mentioned before about my work mentoring young minority teens, and going to these under performing schools, and the difficulties the kids that want to learn have. This is what irritates me. We aren’t having these conversations… tearing down statues, and blaming Trump is not going to help those in need. It is the gritty grind, helping one child at a time that does the real good.

        • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

          Doug,

          Under the Trump/DeVos voucher plan most of the funding will go toward small, inferior, fundamentalist church schools with no public oversight, with a much smaller amount going to charter schools.

          In addition, many charter schools are abysmal failures, with lower test scores and educational progress than public schools. As mentioned above, robbing public schools is not the answer.

          • Avatar Doug Cook says:

            Would you want your kids in a Baltimore public school?

          • Avatar Randy says:

            If the ” Baltimore public school” taught factual science and historical truth that would be preferable to teaching religious dogma filled with fantasy level nonsense and historical lies. There is a good reason why our founding fathers quite purposfully seprated church and state.

          • Avatar Doug Cook says:

            I have no clue what you are talking about, Randy…as I posted, only 15 out of 141 schools are meeting goals in reading and writing. That’s the problem…the schools aren’t teaching anything. They are failing. I’m not a terribly religious person, I don’t belong to any church…but if I lived in Baltimore and had the opportunity to get my kids out of public schools and get a proper education in a religious school, I would jump at the chance. An hour or so of religious education would be fine with me if a religious school can teach my kid to read and write…and by the way, not all charter schools are religious in nature.

            I also wouldn’t give a crap about robbing public schools..I have one concern, the education of my kids. Baltimore has been run by Democrats since like forever…they screwed up the schools. It’s their fault. If they can’t fix it…then I’ll go somewhere else.

          • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

            Actually even charter schools are now being taken over by churches and religious organizations all over the country (as Bethel Mega-Church has taken over public charter schools in Shasta County, where it admittedly teaches its various “ministries”), so even students in charter schools are no longer safe from having primitive superstition, blatant sexism, and anti-science foisted on them.

            And of course those are the charter schools that will get the lion’s share of the charter school funding under the Trump/DeVos voucher scheme. De Vos admits that “bringing God’s Kingdom” into the classroom is her #1 goal.

          • Avatar Doug Cook says:

            You are missing the whole point of my comments, Patrecia. The well meaning protests and the messaging about police brutality and racism is being lost by virtue signalling, cancel culture, tearing down statues of Thomas Jefferson, and white anarchists taking over parts of Seattle. Causing much of the country to bail on the cause.

            What I am advocating for is digging deep to look at the root problems…education being a big one for me. Moving more poor black people into the middle class, and poor white people for that matter, will do much more than defunding police forces. But let’s have that discussion. let’s look at the pros and cons of Charter schools and vouchers in our failing inner city schools as an example of raising graduation rates of our black teens.

            I still remember when a few years ago I mentioned the foundation I worked with while in the Air Force, how we mentored minority teens. Do you remember what you said about me volunteering? You said I wasn’t concerned about the kids, that “I just got off telling black kids what to do” That’s was a ridiculous comment. It does no good to push the ‘all white people are racists’ narrative. That is the new theme now, and why many in this country will bail on this movement.

    • Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

      Doug, should I surmise that you’re against, in general, using law enforcement resources to investigate cold cases?

      • Avatar Doug Cook says:

        Hal, I am not against looking at this case at all, or any cold case for that matter. Ted Woodward, in a comment above this one has given an in depth description of the investigation , including interviews from a friend of Mr Coleman noting his previous suicide attempt, and his mental state at the time. The evidence, to me, is overwhelming that Mr Coleman committed suicide.

        What I question is why after 23 years, the new focus on this death? Is it a genuine concern or is it just another way to try and reinforce and prove racism claims? Are we respecting this man’s death by using him as a pawn to somehow show how racist us white people are? Ted brought up the case of Malcolm Harsch, a black man that was found hanged. There were protests and outrage over his death, until officials found a surveillance video of the poor man hanging himself.

        If APD wants to look at the case, I’m fine with it. I doubt that there will be a different outcome, though.

  7. Avatar Annelise says:

    Doug, for Mr Coleman’s family members who are no doubt reading these comments, I think it’s you who will appear to have lost the message, at least the message of this article. Here it is again. A man died. Family and friends do not believe it was a suicide. APD Takes it seriously enough to have assigned a new senior investigator in January, before protests began.

    You could always send your sincere sympathy to the family in the comments too.

  8. Avatar Bill Vercammen says:

    “If you want to focus on Mr Coleman…fine, go ahead. But don’t pretend you are making any difference in today’s current situation. Let’s look to the future, not looking at the past.”

    I think we are looking at a necessary part of the healing process, Doug, and revisiting past social pains will be the agenda for a while, before the focus turns to gainful future stride. I wouldn’t be too impatient with the process – I think it will likely outlive the pandemic crisis by many years to come.

    Unfortunately, in the case of poor Mr Coleman, statistically speaking – cold cases that old seldom bear fruit, unless their is DNA evidence. I’m not saying it’s a lost cause, just that it’s an unlikely resolved this far gone past peer analysis. My sympathies go to Mr Coleman’s survivors.

  9. Avatar Jist Cuz says:

    “… in today’s social media society where one blog or meme can change your life FOREVER.” +!+

  10. Avatar Candace says:

    To the family of Leo Coleman Jr., I sincerely hope you get the answers you’re after. My heart goes out to all of you and I’m sorry for your pain.

  11. Steve DuBois Steve DuBois says:

    The death of Leo Coleman Jr. is tragic. To his family: I’m so sorry for your loss. I truly hope there will be justice for Leo. I hated hearing about this. Thank you, Annelise, for doing this story.

  12. Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

    Trump’s latest racist outrage is to claim that he made Juneteenth famous by holding his rally in Tulsa at this time, and that no one ever heard of it before now. I’ve been aware of this commemoration for years, as have millions of other people.

    https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/elections-2020/trump-rally-has-tulsa-on-edge/ar-BB15LsJW?ocid=spartandhp

  13. Avatar StJude says:

    *WARNING GRAPHIC*

    You can find the complete story of the hanging of Leo Coleman and 3 letters to the editor here
    #JusticeForLeo

    https://oakland.access.preservica.com/download/file/digitalFile_6d8a8e94-d5aa-449d-8974-2577a8770a83

    • StJude,
      yes the news article from the panthers is very revealing.

      With the amount of hatred toward blacks, his hanging is not at all above the Lynching so many here in the north state.

  14. Avatar Bill Vercammen says:

    “…and that no one ever heard of it before now.”

    Patrecia, this remains one of the least desirable Trump characteristics. Taking credit where credit is actually due others. It is an ugly form of scabbing that borders on plagiarism. He has also tried taking credit for coining the term “fake news”. This is the same presidential gem that last year awarded the Medal of a Freedom to Rush Limbaugh.

    Past recipients have included Madeleine Albright, Bush Sr, and Louis Lamour.
    To my thinking, this makes the Donald a bit of a minimally expressive asshat.
    Disbelievable to the core…

    • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

      An interesting development is taking place right now. Trump’s rally is actually under-attended, with many vacant seats. In fact he had to cancel a planned speech earlier because the audience was nearly non-existent.

      Of course he’s falsely claiming that “radical protestors” and aggressive media people are keeping his attendees away, which are nowhere in evidence. And we have only his campaign’s word that a million people sought tickets for this rally.

      • Avatar Candace says:

        Anyone could buy two tickets to Trump’s rally. The only thing one had to do was furnish a phone number. Just sayin…

  15. Avatar Linda Cooper says:

    Annelise, I got so worked up over the comments, that I forgot to mention that I deeply appreciated your article. I hope it helps the family.

  16. Avatar Donee says:

    The sad thing in all this though is no one even asked Leo Sr and Earnestine parents of Leo jr if they wanted to re open Pandora’s box….they should have been consulted first…

    And yes I do know them and am aware of some things

  17. Avatar Christopher Dale Staffin says:

    Note: No denial of my insinuations from Doug.ster +!+

  18. Avatar Jist Cuz says:

    #blacklivesmatter +!+

  19. Avatar Joanne Snyder says:

    Thank you Annelise for an excellent article. This horrifying event happened before I moved to Redding and I only learned about it through a Black Panther publication. My thoughts are with Leo Coleman Jr’s family.

    • Avatar Melody Brewer says:

      Seems that most skipped over the comment “indicates that no autopsy was done (despite promises made to the family) because the coroner had never done an autopsy on a black man.” In 1998???? Seriously!!!?? Piss poor thing excuse if you ask me. To quote my mother “you cut him and he bleeds”.

      • Avatar Doug Cook says:

        Yeah, Melody…I was going to make the same point. That is a ridiculous comment that I assume came from the Black Panther article

        • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

          Doug,

          You obviously have no idea just how racist Shasta County still was 23 years ago. It was a good 50 years behind the rest of the state to the south.

          • Avatar Doug Cook says:

            Patrecia, I moved to Shasta County 20 years ago, and no…Shasta was not 50 years behind everyone else. I was a member of the Shasta County Grand Jury 10 years ago. Part of our duties was to look at the Coroners office. I even attended 2 separate autopsies, a decision that I ended up regretting. We had long interviews with the Deputy Coroner and the Forensic Pathologist, who was there in ’98. I can’t remember the doctor’s name, as well as the detectives assigned to the coroners office. The idea that the coroners office would have a policy of not doing autopsies on black people is preposterous.

            Where does that information come from, Patrecia? What is your source? This is the garbage that does no good…that does nothing but stoke up racial tensions unnecessarily. You have absolutely no proof of your claim.

          • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

            Doug Cook,

            I knew quite a few members of Redding’s Black community in the 1990’s (and beyond), and was heavily involved with the community in general, in ways that most of Redding’s 97 percent lily-white population wouldn’t even consider. I personally witnessed a number of racist horrors (some of which involved law enforcement and local officials), and heard first-hand accounts of many more. Your insistence that there was no racism in Shasta County 23 years ago (based on nothing REAL) is reprehensible.

          • Avatar Doug Cook says:

            Patrecia, This claim was made, “… indicates that no autopsy was done… because the coroner had never done an autopsy on a black man.”

            I cry BS on that claim, a claim that you seem to believe. I am asking what proof, evidence or source that you can find to support the claim that Shasta County has never done an autopsy on a black man as recently as 1998?

            Nowhere did I say there was no racism in Shasta County…there is racism in every city in America. What I dispute is racism in Redding was similar to 50 years ago, during the Jim Crow era. You accusing County officials of never doing autopsies on black people is what is reprehensible. So once again…please show me the source of the autopsy claim.

          • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

            First of all Doug, it was 1997 (1998 was the year of the Commemorator article, whose authors I assume did their research during the intervening year). Before you call them liars, can you name a Black man Shasta County performed an autopsy on previous to that time?

            And Shasta County in 1997 wasn’t just “everywhere” – it was an isolated place in the boondocks where men still called women they didn’t even know “darling” and “babydoll” and “little lady”, where nearly the entire Black population was confined to one neglected area (and left that area at their own peril, both from law enforcement and the general public – something I personally witnessed on multiple occassions), where Black people law enforcement didn’t recognize were accused of being gang members and drug dealers and told to move along, and per my earlier comment were not allowed to use swimming pools and were discriminated against in a variety of other ways that places like Sacramento or the Bay Area left behind decades earlier.

            It appears that racism is far from gone in Shasta County, judging by the hysterical responses by some of its defenders on this thread.

          • Avatar Doug Cook says:

            Patrecia, You are the one making the claim. It is not up to me to prove they did do autopsies on minorities. If you wish to make that particular claim, then you Damn well be able to prove it. But you can’t. Again, ir is reprehensible to call someone a racist with no facts or proof. That is one of the reasons we are in this period if racisl tensions. Irresponsible of you

          • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

            Doug Cook,

            Actually I just looked back through my posts on this thread, and I don’t see where I made the claim that Shasta County had never done an autopsy involving a Black man in 1997. That claim was made by the Commemorator article, and repeated in the article above. I claimed that an autopsy was never performed in this case, which even local officials admit. That was indefensible.

            Racism doesn’t go away just because you choose to ignore it – especially in a county that voted 70 percent for Trump, and that is loaded with militia-type groups that go to BLM protests armed, and looking for a fight.

          • Avatar Doug Cook says:

            No…you didn’t make that claim, but you believe it is true as shown by your subsequent comments. Do you or do you not believe that an autopsy wasn’t performed because of racism? I’m not trying to belabor the point…but I do think it is very important that readers don’t just skip by a ridiculous assertion that Shasta County had a policy of not doing autopsies on black people in 1997. What you are doing, Patrecia is unnecessarily stoking up racial tensions, which we don’t need right now.

            So let’s get to the bottom of this…Once again, do you, or do you not believe that Shasta County’s Coroner Office did not perform an autopsy because of racism?

        • Avatar Leslie says:

          Excuse me Doug, but I am a family member and that article speaks the truth. Just so you know.

          • Avatar Doug Cook says:

            Then I will ask you..what proof do you have that the Shasta County coroner had a practice of not doing autopsies on black people back in ’97?

  20. Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

    Thanks for posting this, Annelise. I hope this cold case can be solved, and that Leo’s family will gain some peace.

  21. Avatar StJude says:

    With the Colemans permission we shall have another event perhaps a group or a church or non profit with someone other in group hosting and being the face of this next event. The pastor that spoke at the memorial from Saint Marks did such a fine job perhaps they are interested.

    My idea is a food drive in Leo Coleman Jrs name and giving the proceeds to Redding MLK Center perhaps.

    Maybe a yearly gift of a Leo Coleman Jr college scholarship fund given to local Shasta County black college students?

    The Secret WITNESS Reward is a fantastic idea !

    Perhaps the Colemans themselves have an idea?

    Whatever it is WE are happy to promote and …

    “Justice For Leo Coleman Jr”

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/258978458706393/

  22. Avatar CHRISTIAN Gardinier says:

    Annelise, Thanks. We need a US Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate, tell the story of our racism, and collectively find meaningfully, not just a white washed – let’s all feel good and go home – solutions, to deal with our systemic problem.

    It is very important that we look into the Leo Coleman Jr. story further as it looks like the “authorities” didn’t, and sadly that’s not surprising. As we all know, there is a long and continued history of white supremacist racism in Shasta County, but this sickness is also part of our national heritage from day one, to this day, and sadly tomorrow as well. Clearly, suppression of, and denial of the truth isn’t working.

    However, perhaps there is a way to change the corse of systematic and institutional racism in the mist of the deep racial divide ripping at the fabric of America today, and it starts with this: It’s time to tell the truth.

  23. Avatar Chad Magnuson says:

    My apologies for name calling toward Doug and upsetting Hal.
    I never thought of it as name calling.
    I was using a conservative reference from Doug’s favorite President Reagan.
    Reagan came up with the reference to “welfare Queen”. Which was of course nothing but a dog whistle to inflame right wing conservatives.
    I certainly don’t need to remind those of us who lived through those times, that not only was it a proud conservative lie, repeated over and over again, it remains one of the most disgusting and republican racist taunts until trump stained our presidency.

    For the record. I have no animosity toward pilots or small craft flying.
    I have flown in the right seat of Cessna plans of all sorts. Hundreds of hours a year for 20 plus years.
    I’ve also flow in Bell Huey helicopters in over 25 combat assaults while serving in Vietnam as an infantryman.
    I’ve loaded more bodies into dust off’s than I care to remember.
    I’ve communicated with dozens of navy pilots bringing in air support.
    Not bragging.
    Simply illustrating my use of a Cessna in place of a Cadillac.

    • Avatar Annelise says:

      Chad. Well done. I appreciate a person who can apologize. I also appreciate your reference which I better observe now as somewhat tongue in cheek. Your comments are intelligent and interesting. Thanks for being part of the conversation.

    • Avatar Bill Vercammen says:

      “For the record. I have no animosity toward pilots…”

      There exists an interesting love/hate relationship between pilots and their mechanics. A fellow with Hal’s helicopter experience can attest to the anticipated mechanic’s response after he has been compelled to sign in on a log book entry such as “Turbine outlet temp exceedance in excess of 980C for 10 seconds ”, “Main rotor overtorque in excess of 120%”, or “pilot seat unfit for human occupancy – repair before further flight”. Fun, fun, fun…
      Right, Hal?

      • Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

        Bill, there is a bit of a “chicken or the egg” element to that love/hate relationship between pilots and mechanics. But, y’know, I have to put most of the blame on the pilots. I look at many of my pilot coworkers at PHI as brothers and sisters, but I would say that a good ten percent of them came across as total dicks to maintenance folks. It was no wonder that it typically took awhile to convince a mechanic that you weren’t an A-hole. Now, I’m not saying that mechanics were blameless, but in my gut, I always felt that the bulk of the blame went to the pilots.

        Oh yeah, logbook write ups. One of the few times that I really went off on a copilot was when he wrote up the airborne radar as inoperative when there was an entry in the logbook that the airborne radar was MEL’ed. If that wasn’t bad enough, he turned the logbook to the maintenance office without telling me that he’d made the write up.

        But really, the take-the-cake write up was entered by my best friend from Army flight school. When we arrived in our unit at Fort Ord, we were both given transition training into the OH-58/Bell 206A. The 206 with that short landing gear was notoriously difficult to land (when I went to work for PHI a few years later, I loved the taller skid gear in the civilian 206s.) My friend from flight school was a rather proud fellow, and perhaps could not recognize that his hard landings happened because he was lacking in technique.

        Thus, his logbook write up: “Aircraft will not land softly.”

        I kid you not. The mechanics seemed to have a hard time taking him seriously after that.

        • Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

          Oh geez, Annelise. I’m sorry to hijack your comment thread. I’m tempted to do the childish thing and blame it on Bill V., but at least Bill was concise.

          • Avatar Doug Cook says:

            I’m guilty too Hal…as you know, it is difficult to get pilots to shut up about their flying exploits Sorry Annelise.

          • Avatar Bill Vercammen says:

            “I’m tempted to do the childish thing and blame it on Bill V…”

            No sweat. I take all the heat for this one. I knew better but couldn’t resist the prompt. Just like a shark, I sleep with eyes open for even a momentary attempt at a laugh. Sorry, Annelise.

          • Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

            ” . . . it is difficult to get pilots to shut up about their flying exploits . . . ”

            Yep, Doug, and that’s just one more reason why aircraft mechanics love us so much. Am I right, Bill?

            Oops. There I go again. Maybe, in addition to the Open Conversation page, Doni will start a “Self Indulgent BS for Old Pilots and Aircraft Mechanics” page.

    • Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

      Chad, thanks for taking the time to offer an apology. As Annelise mentioned, your reference of how the term “welfare queen” was tossed about during the Reagan era does tend to make me look at your comment as more tongue in cheek.

      Thank you for your service. When I started Army flight school in early 1975, most of my classmates had served in Vietnam. When a TAC officer announced that April that Saigon had fallen, the looks on the faces of my classmates hit me like a punch to the gut. When I meet someone who served in Vietnam, I feel humbled, and I think about the way my classmates looked after the announcement.

      I have to admit that I feel like kind of a hypocrite for taking you to task over the comment directed at Doug. I’m probably guilty myself of harshing him for being an Air Force pilot by making comparisons such as, “In the Army, we called it a cup of Joe; in the Air Force, they call it a vanilla latte.” It’s one thing to offer such things in jest in a forum made up of military veterans; it’s maybe another in a forum such as on ANC.

      Plus, I worry that my jesting may have scarred Doug emotionally, and I’ve been worried about him since.

      Thank you again for your service, Chad. I’m glad for your presence on ANC. Now, please post something objectionable so I can criticize you and stop feeling like such a butt kisser.

  24. Avatar StJude says:

    “The mutilated body of 31 year-old Leo Coleman, Jr. of Redding, California was found hanging from a tree in the nearby town of Anderson by two teenage boys November 24, 1997. Police reports document that Officer Ed Ochoa received three separate ‘ reports from three different people on November 24, that Leo Coleman, Jr. was the victim of hanging by adherents of so-called “white pride” elements in the local community.”

    “The Commemorator”

    Officer Ed Ochoa lives in Red Bluff today…

  25. Avatar StJude says:

    Interesting what pops up now when you use search words “Leo Coleman Jr Anderson” in Bing search engine now 🙂

    I wonder who the Chief of Anderson police was at time of tragedy?

    And several years later a black woman in Anderson had a 8 foot tall burning cross put out on her front lawn, were those people caught and arrested? Do they live in Anderson today..?

    “After Cross Burning – A Town Marches Together”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fRlE_oNeH-k

  26. Avatar John Dunlap says:

    I am not sure how comments in aNC are followed, but I request the participants review my reply to Mr. Towers above. Your reactions would be appreciated.

    • Avatar Bill Vercammen says:

      “I am not sure how comments in ANC are followed…”

      Hi John,
      Normally, disputed posts are handled directly by Doni, Annelise, or Barbara Rice – and usually PDQ. I suspect the holiday has found those gals out and about, enjoying the day. Please be patient, as I expect that when Steve catches up on his reading he’ll likely reply to you directly.
      Cheers…

      • I’m here, using a light touch with regard to the delete button. So far, just a few comments have been removed from this piece tonight.

        (Mr. Dunlap, welcome to ANC. I’m not sure what you’re requesting.)

  27. Avatar Jist Cuz says:

    He’s being “satyrical” using a rudimentary point as to reason suggesting that the ill diatribe perpetrators were TOO STUPID to understand anything short of violence +!+

  28. Avatar Chris says:

    During the time line that Mr. Coleman was found I don’t understand why the police would have reported this as suicide. Did they not look at who he was dating? That could have been motive. Mixed couples. I was born in 1967 in Los Angeles half German, half African American. My mother told me how she was treated for dating my father.

  29. Avatar J Dunlap says:

    It seems I have come to the wrong place. Redneck, Gomer? Are wop, spic, gook, greaser, fatso, and all of those acceptable?. The name calling and public strutting and crowing “should have punched” by a staff writer? I expected insights and historical perspective. And what is this hiding behind anonymous names? In parting, I hope the Colemans get their inquest. The Shasta County review committee who took the lead in making the Coroner an appointed position rather than elected recommended the Sheriff not be made Coroner for exactly that reason. They recommended a full time independent pathologist. Mr. Towers, don’t bother responding. I won’t be here.

  30. Avatar bruce vojtecky says:

    Steve Towers has gone to Colorado to bring his mother to California. He is probably too busy to respond on here.

  31. Avatar StJude says:

    FYI for you Doni

    I just ran into the sister of one of the juveniles who found Leo Coleman Jr hanging that day. She said he had to get counseling after what he saw and SYMBOLS were carved into the body.

    • Avatar Doug Cook says:

      I just ran into a cousin of a friend of my sisters and he said that a friend of his woke up in bathtub of ice with a note saying to call 911 because his kidneys were taken out. You story has about as much legitimacy.

      During the external examination it was noted that their was some soft tissue damage caused by wildlife. There were no symbols carved in his body noted by the forensic pathologist.

  32. Avatar Jist Cuz says:

    Doug is doing a LOUSY JOB @ DAMAGE CONTROL… as usual +!+

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