It’s a mouthful just to say but on September 13th, a hearing will take place in Grundy County in front of Justice Angel for Error Corum Nobis, and other issues. At the same time a Habeas was filed to the Federal court in which senior judge Curtis Collier has ordered the state to respond. The State, this time meaning the attorney Generals’ office, asked for more time, and until after the hearing in Grundy County. Getting interesting huh? Presented in both are the affidavit of Sgt Mike Brown and a juror who has come forward, as well as other new evidence, including a witness statement that seemingly disappeared. Sgt Brown, the investigator who handled the case the night of the murder states that evidence was tampered with after he turned the body of Malcolm Burrow over to the Sheriff Myers. Chief Lonnie Cleek and TBI agent Larry Davis. Other evidence presented being that of current Sheriff Clint Shrum saying records were destroyed by former Sheriff Myers.
Since Justis Collier was appointed, or appointed himself, which ever the case may be, there has been quite a bit of speculation of what he might do if the case does go to him. Perhaps this is based on Grundy’s own peculiar history. Though I doubt this would effect a decision, people talk.
In 1961, Grundy County’s Highlander Folk School was shut down. It is no secret why, the place had become a hotbed for strategy in the civil rights movement. Where Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King learned valuable lessons from Myles Horton about organizing. Grundy County has a history as a defiant people who fought hard for better conditions and pay in the mines. Pre-Highlander, there were many bloody showdowns. One being an assassination plot, which was barely thwarted, on the president of Tennessee Consolidated Coal which is the subject of a fascinating document that you can find at the Grundy County Historical society. Where one man known only as agent S-3 is sent to Tracy City by the Burns Detective Agency to infiltrate an unauthorized KKK meeting. Where plans were being laid to blow up the mine and murder the owner. An assassin was dispatched to Nashville to do the deed, but by chance the owner was not to be found. By the time he was located, the strike was settled. And to a great credit of the men in Tracy, they voted to work side by side with scab labor saying “those men’s families had to eat too.”
It is in this moment we see the heart of Grundy.
These plans of violence were not born in a vacuum. Whole families were being locked out of their homes and pushed out into the cold. Those men, who by their own backs had built up the company, soon found themselves hunted down like wild animals. By private detectives, hired to clamp down on those who dared speak out. Companies who came to the mountain to strip out what sellable assets there existed beneath the ground of a people who had nothing more than to call this the land they were born. With such brutal action, it was often hard to see equity or justice by the company’s hand, even if they at times had difficulty making a profit.
Still, the violence was notorious at the time Myles opened Highlander in 1932. He was thus introducing a nonviolent approach to solving labor strife, not creating the problem.
In the course of organizing unions, Myles became a pioneer in bringing the races together. Whites and blacks learning a practical strength in numbers was gained that outweighed any imagined differences. Soon they got to know each other, and found the other wasn’t that bad after all; this being for many the first such experience in working together for a common purpose.
All of this taking place right up on “the mountain.” Grundy County TN
Hard to believe for some.
A case can be made that Myles Horton was the father of the civil rights movement. Or Highlander itself, as there were many other important figures such as Septima Clark teaching at the little School on Justis road between Tracy City and Monteagle.
To make this case though, It’s important to know that Martin Luther King was not well known until after the Montgomery Bus Boycott succeeded. Well after Rosa Parks’ had studied at Highlander. Prior to her refusal to give up her seat.
Whether it be inspiration or training is a matter of some conjecture. Partly because of Myles’ teaching style and opinion on charismatic leadership. He almost never told people what to do, but rather allowing folks to draw their own conclusions by analyzing an experience, still leading them in a direction.
For instance, when a farm union organizer asked Myles what a group of black people were doing at a certain meeting, Myles simply said, “don’t know, why don’t you go ask them.” The man did just that, and that was how Myles taught.
Myles did not want to be a charismatic leader, and he said so.
In any event, there were practical lessons to be learned on how to protest from the mountain’s near decade of labor strife. The people of Grundy having a history of hatching plans going back well before Myles School was erected. Back as far to when the old stockade was burned to the ground and the prison labor being housed there were packed on a train and sent back to Nashville where they came from. The men not wanting to compete against cheap prison labor, and taking matters into their own hands.
A few years after the bus boycott, an informant took Martin Luther King’s picture during an event at Highlander. This was soon plastered on billboards throughout the south and disseminated via millions of pamphlets by the Georgia Commission on Education, with the caption: “Martin Luther King at Communist School.”
Everything of this era is subject for conjecture. Including the assassination of King. Did James Earl Ray kill King in Memphis? If he did, did he do it alone? Or was he a patsy?
When Harry S. Avery of the Tennessee Commission of Corrections brought up issues about Ray being the lone shooter after questioning Oswald on many occasions, Governor Buford Ellington removed him from office. A TBI investigation of Avery’s contentions back in 1969 was turned over to the congressional committee, then placed under seal until 2029. A Republican-sponsored state Senate resolution passed a few years ago sought return of that document to the Tennessee Secretary of State for public release. U.S. Reps. John J. Duncan Jr. and Stephen Fincher also endorsed the idea. The request was ignored.
What all this means is again something we can’t know, not knowing the contents which are under seal.
As far as the connection to Grundy County, King said he had been to the Mountain Top. And yes, he had been to Grundy Mountain.
When Highlander was removed from Grundy County, it removed a large percentage of the black population. Septima Clark herself was arrested for possessing alcohol, though she didn’t drink. If you get the point.
Now there is a senior Federal Judge, Honorable Curtis Collier, who may get the chance to decide the fate of a Grundy County man who many think was framed for murder. Framed to cover up for an illicit pill operation of which the murdered man was involved, which the prosecution, judge and law enforcement just happened to fail to mention.
Though the case first goes back in front of Justice Justin Angel, Justice Collier has received the Habeas and ordered the state respond to the charges of evidence tampering by its officials. This claim coming from a Grundy County officer who was not allowed to testify. Also is the claim of Jury tampering by a juror who says she was bullied by the foreman, who brought in outside rumors as evidence. And then we have the Sheriff altering his own witness statement to fit Adam Braseel. Last but not least being the TBI agent who changes his testimony, (lies, perjures, etc) to hide the fact that weapons (a small ball bat and fire extinguisher) claimed to have been found in the house was not proven to be in the house at all.
As the witnesses told police the night of the murder that the assailant had a silver colored hammer. Yet no hammer was found. Just a ball bat and fire extinguisher. The prosecutor morphed the silver hammer into a black ball bat. The irony being the only known person to have his hands on the ball bat with his mother’s blood on it is Kirk Braden. The only known person in the mix to have a record for domestic assault is again Kirk Braden.
So what reason would this judge have to help this young man? Hopefully because he is an honest judge.
Hopefully he reads that the TN appeals record claims Malcolm is a saintly shade-tree mechanic. When in fact he was a major prescription drug dealer under investigation.
Hopefully he reads where they claim Malcolm’s body was found by SGT Troy Brown, when it was Sgt Mike Brown who found the body. Asking the question of why was there a Troy Brown testifying when there should have been a Sgt Mike Brown testifying. And why did Sgt Mike Brown not get called to testify. And why was the State lying, saying Angie White testified to seeing a car with a dent in it when she explicitly was shown a picture of Adam’s car and said that was not the car she saw, the car she saw had no dent. Which makes perfect sense when you know Myers took a statement from a man who says he saw a gold colored car and the driver was NOT Adam – and yes, when the original statement disappeared, it was then misrepresented by Myers. It is only that the statement was found again that we know he lied about its contents.
In this way he will learn the Tennessee courts from beginning to end have altered, changed, rigged, perjured and other wise manufactured evidence when there is none. Prosecuting Adam Braseel before the results came back from the lab should tell him everything he needs to know about the good ole boys gone wild.
I am quite sure that those who have done wrong are very worried about the new judge, as they should be. But mostly, I believe judge Collier will see that Judge Justin Angel made the correct decision in the first place to set aside Adam’s conviction. And this time, for the sake of a man and his family that have been yanked around and devastated in every form imaginable. I hope there is the decency to just be done with it and let Adam walk free on September 13th.