Thursday, January 04, 2007

Mayor-Elect “Suicided” in Louisiana

Originally posted by Nadir at

Mayor-elect Gerald WashingtonSo let me get this straight…

After three terms on the city council of your small town (Westlake, Louisiana; population 4,700 or so) you just won the office of mayor with 69% of the vote. You will be the town’s first new mayor in 24 years, and you will be the first black mayor in a town that is 80% white.

Most people would view this as a cause for celebration, not a reason to commit suicide, but officials in Calcasieu Parish want us to believe that Gerald Washington killed himself on Dec. 30 outside an old elementary school with a single self-inflicted gunshot to the chest.


The family doesn’t buy it either.

“Calcasieu Parish is known to be racist,” Geroski Washington, Gerald Washington’s son, said in a telephone interview. “There were lots of folks who didn’t want my father to become the mayor.”Too many details of the case fail to make sense, Washington said, adding that his father “had no reason to kill himself” and was eagerly anticipating taking over as mayor after 12 years as a member of the City Council.

There was no suicide note, the son said. Moreover, his father was right-handed, but the gun was found on the left side of his body and his left hand was bloodied, according to crime scene photographs Washington said he was shown at the sheriff’s office.

Even more perplexing, the son said, sheriff’s deputies drove his father’s truck back to the family’s home just two hours after the body was found by a passerby.

“If a vehicle is on the scene of a murder, shouldn’t that be towed away for investigation?” Washington said.

White town residents don’t see any explanation besides suicide, however.

“There was no way this could have been racial–we just don’t have racial problems in this town,” said Dan Cupit, a council member and friend of Washington’s. “He was probably one of the most popular guys in town. You could not dislike him.”

Maybe not, but as Geroski Washington implied, that doesn’t mean you want a Black man as mayor.

Geroski Washington sharply disagreed, asserting that racial tensions in Westlake run deep. He noted that only about 1,000 voters cast ballots in the mayoral election, suggesting that most whites stayed away from the polls.

“My dad was popular, but you have to understand, he was popular so long as he wasn’t running the city,” he said. “Once he won the election, now that an African-American was going to be running the city, that’s where the problem came in.”

Chicago Tribune


Post a Comment

<< Home