Dover Delaware, 2012

On October 6, 2012 in Dover Delaware this blogger was confronted with claims of a lynching, an attempted lynching and a cover up that were not immediately credible ... Here is my weblog as I struggle to place in some kind of order all the information coming in since then. Although the topics in this blog have grown beyond the original case, still ongoing and unsolved to the minds of many, the focus is the same. Equal protection under the law.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Poking holes in stories.

  In October of 2012, Myself and two other activists petitioned the City Council of Dover Delaware to conduct an independent investigation into three events:

 The suicide of Johnny Clark, found hanging from a tree by his own belt in Silver Lake park on May 12 2012.

The assault of one Henry J. Fordham at Silver Lake Park on September 21 2012, allegedly by two European American males who confessed to killing Johnny Clark and who did vacate their apartment in Mr. Fordham's neighborhood the same day Fordham was assaulted.

A racist leaflet campaign in Downton Dover Delaware in December 2011.


This is a scanned image of a flyer that was found along Division Street, New Street, and Governor's Avenue in downtown Dover Delaware. The flyer also found it's way to Delaware State University where students marched and at least one arrest was made.

 Antonio Prado, reporter for the Dover Post filed this story on October 22, 2012.

  The hardest part of this story for me to believe was the report of Henry J. Fordham being assaulted and the police refusing to take a complaint or investigate. There is also a report of the Attorney General's office refusing to take a complaint of a hate crime.

  The police chief of Dover stated on WBOC news that Fordham changed his story more than once and that Mr. Fordham was well known to the police as a person involved with illegal narcotics. Apparently this is adequate reason to dismiss an criminal assault, quite possibly with a weapon.

According to Police, Fordham first said that he was abducted in a home invasion and police confirmed that no such event had taken place. According to Police Mr. Fordham next said that he was walking his dog and was abducted at gun point. Police 'poked holes' in that story when they learned that Mr. Fordham did not own a dog. Fair enough.

  Still, if nothing happened to Mr. Fordham why did the Dover Police Department contact Henry J. Fordham at Silver Lake Park in Dover at approximately 0600 hours on September 21 2012?

 Antonio Prado interviewed Dover Police Chief Holsted and then printed this:

 "City police also investigated the September incident alleged by Fordham, Hosfelt said. Police first contacted Fordham at 6 a.m. Sept. 21 because a resident reported he was in her backyard acting irrational."

Hosfelt admitted that Dover Police did not pursue the assault of Henry Fordham because they 'poked holes' in his story and on television (WBOC) Hosfelt stated that Fordham was known to Dover P.D. and involved with illegal narcotics. All of which is irrelevant.

   However, we now have a police story full of holes. Fordham's account of what led to the 911 call is at odds with the statement of Hosfelt to Dover Post. So on November 4 I tracked down the address the call originated from and interviewed a member of the household.

  Yelling, screaming, and sounds of a fight woke the caller and her husband. It was bad enough that she got out of bed and turned on her outside floodlight. That's when she saw Fordham in her yard falling to the ground and yelling for help. He was obviously injured. That's a far cry from "acting irrational(sic)".

Fordham 911 call recording confirms police chief Hosfelt is not telling the whole truth.

  If the police can disregard the account of Mr. Fordham because they 'poked holes' in his story, should not the public disregard the findings and pronouncements of Dover P.D. now that we have 'poked holes' in their story? 

 Either the Dover P.D. or the Attorney General need to get behind this yesterday. Either we have killers running loose or people fabricating a socially destabilizing narrative. A narrative taken as truth in the community where Johnny Clark and Henry Fordham lived.



Saturday, November 24, 2012

Modus Operandi and the man we didn't know

 Modus Operandi means roughly mode of operation.  In Investigative circles it's a pattern that can be spotted. Holdup man with white high top sneakers and small revolver, for a quick example. How something was done. Four cars stolen by taking out passenger window with a brick for instance.

  After a local newspaper covered the story of three activists petitioning city council for independent investigations into a death ruled suicide and a reported attack on a local man, something happened. A phone call was made to Dr. Jahi Issa by a person or persons who knew a young man named Charles Conley.

   His death in October 2010 was also determined to be a suicide. Black man, hanging in a tree, in public, in Dover, not far from where Johnny Clark would die two years hence . Hanging from his own belt just like Clark. Ruled officially to be a suicide just like Johnny Clark.

    In October of 2010 and May of 2012 a black man died hanging from  a tree by his own belt. In the case of Mr. Johnny Clark, local barber on May 12 2012 it was apparently the belt he was wearing. Charles Conley' mother has stated that in October 2010 Charles hung from two of his own belts tied together. Do not know if he ever wore two belts.

  It it possible that two men hang themselves from trees in public in such a small place? Dover Delaware is a small city with less than 40,000 residents. Only 38% of that number are African American. Then you have the general tendency of folks to kill themselves in an isolated place. Remember that Non Hispanic Black males are less likely to commit suicide than Europeans and Asians.

  Then we are left with the modus operandi. Both deaths occurred with the victim's own belt. It could be speculated that Henry J. Fordham would have heard something about Johnny Clark's means of demise and incorporated it into his own narrative. Even so, this ligature mark on Henry's neck may be consistent with his statement. Namely that these two European American men tried to strangle him with his own belt.

  Said attempted strangulation occurring at the same park where Johnny Clark died.

  At the end of the day, we have two men with nothing in common except skin tone hanging from trees in Dover Delaware by their own belts within a small geographic area near Silver Lake, and another man with a mark on his neck from what he claims is an attempt at strangling him by two men. Two men who according to more than one source confessed to killing Johnny Clark, one of the suicide victims.

   For your ease of review, videos taken by War on the Horizon are posted here. Whether or not you agree with agenda of WOH, I admire them for getting out into the field with their crew and capturing these interviews to video.

Last but not least, here is a google earth screen capture showing the relatively small area where these events occurred The area where Charles Conley was found is lower right, Silver lake park where Johnny Clark was found and Henry Fordham was assaulted are upper left. There is a football field at the college for scale. Looks like less than quarter mile distance walking. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

What happened to Henry Fordham?

  My first post on this blog was an attempt to tie together the information that has pretty much taken over my life. On October 6, 2012 at a political meet and greet in Dover Delaware six candidates including myself were put on the spot.  Nobody was interested in hearing about why they should vote for us. A group of people were upset over what the city was calling a suicide and an attack on another man that was being swept under the rug.

  The death ruled a suicide befell Johnny Clark of Dover on May 12, 2012 in Silver lake Park in Dover Delaware. The man who was assaulted in the same section of Silver Lake Park on September 21, 2012 is Henry J. Fordham who also was residing in Dover in the same neighborhood as Johnny Clark.

 On October 17, 2010 a star athlete from Edison New Jersey and a Freshman at Wesley College was reported hanging from a tree in an alley off of the 200 Block of North Governor's Avenue in Dover. Allegedly hanging from his own belt, same as Johnny Clark. The only thing the two victims had in common is skin tone and the manner and proximity of their public deaths, both ruled suicides.

  In December 2011 there was a racist leaflet distributed in Dover Delaware. The leaflet depicted a lynching, a swastika and contained racist language implying that the streets should be cleaned one African American at a time.

  Checkmate. For some reason I couldn't turn the group down when they asked for assistance in early October. I would do my best to get to the truth of the contested demise and get justice for the man who was assaulted.

  At first the only mention of the death of Johnny Clark and the assault on Henry Fordham could only be found here:

WGMD News in the morning anchor Bill Colley first read the above post on air and called the claims specious. Local paralegal and community activist Eshed Alston called in to the show and shared his observations from his contact with the assault victim whose complaint was refused by police.

 I had a hard time believing the claims. I asked if there was any proof of the assault victim's claims.  A wound, ostensibly from a dull knife is telling.

  With the police and reportedly also the attorney general refusing to act on the assault the victim spoke to a film crew associated with an arguably radical website.

   The mutilation near his ear and report of the attackers trying to cut off his ear and penis is a troubling set of circumstances and allegations. This man may or may not have known that his report is consistent with patterns of behavior seen in lynchings of black men going back well over a century.

  Mr. Fordham identified his attackers and their address and vehicle are also kown, along with their first names.

 Officially, Dover Police maintain that there is no probable cause to investigate an assault on Mr. Fordham because they 'poked holes in his story' (concerning how he came to be in contact with his attackers) and he is 'known to them'.

 Here's the thing. Fordham claims that his attackers confessed to killing Johnny Clark. Clark's death by hanging from a tree by his belt in the very same public park was ruled a suicide. Johnny Clark's brother reported that the last people he saw his brother with on May 11, 2012 were the same two white males named by Mr. Fordham as his attackers.

 Johnny Clarks brother testifies to the Dover Human Relations Commission:

  The problem inherent in the current situation is easy to spot. Dover Police and City Counsel are standing firm on ruling Johnny Clark's death by hanging a suicide and are refusing to investigate the assault into Henry Fordham.

  If Mr. Fordham and Johnny Clark's brother are correct, there are two murderers on the loose having committed heinous crimes. If the two are fabricating the story then that's also a very serious matter because of the potential for social destabilization.

 Either way we need to know and the key to understanding is the assault on Fordham. Fordham identified two individuals by first name, race and gender, vehicle, and address. Said individuals confirmed to exist at said address by neighbors. These two white males also reportedly vacated their residence the same day that somebody stuck a knife in Henry's head.

   Unconfirmed but wide ranging reports from the street indicate that these two white males were involved with dangerous drugs, possibly to include some form of PCP. That alone should warrant police attention.

 When will Dover P.D., City Counsel, or the Attorney General step in here?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Is the first state dead last in civil rights?

  Two men, nearly two years apart in death. They died the same way, hanging from trees in Dover Delaware in a time and manner which convinced local P.D. investigators and officials that both deaths were suicide. Two black men. That's all they had in common except for the way they died, how they were found, where they died.

  Between the death of the first and second man, a racist leaflet was distributed in Dover along Division street downtown. The flyer contained vulgar racist language and the image of a black man hanging from a tree by his neck as well as a swastika.

  One a street wise barber . One a star athlete 19 years old. From Edison New Jersey and a freshman at Wesley College. The only thing besides their manner of passing they had in common was skin tone.

 On October 17 2010 in an alley in Dover a  black man was seen hanging from a tree by a passing motorist.

This is what made it to the Newspaper:

"But to the shock and sadness of many in New Jersey and Delaware, Conley, who recently turned 19, died suddenly on the morning of Oct. 17. His death was ruled a suicide, according to Carl Kanefsky, a spokesman for the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services. According to Dover police, Conley’s body was found by a passerby in an alleyway near campus around 7:30 a.m."

 "... died suddenly ...." ?  There's a Win The Future type of moment there.

The Police Press Release:

Student Commits Suicide
Complaint Number: 50-10-26769
Date of Incident: 10/17/10
This News Release was entered 10/20/10 by Captain, Tim Stump 
Location of Incident:
200 Block N. Governors Ave

On Sunday 10/17/10 at approximately 0730 the Dover Police Department responded to a report from a motorist driving in the alleyway, east of N. Governors Ave, that a subject was hanging from a tree. Detectives identified the victim as a 19 year old Wesley College student from New Jersey. There is no foul play involved and detectives found information from the victim detailing his intent to harm himself. 

This is one account from the Campus paper on the tragedy.

  Friends and family have expressed doubt over the finding of suicide.

  On May 12, 2012 Johnny Clark died at Silver Lake Park in Dover. A black man, the official Dover Police Department report indicated that he had committed suicide by hanging himself from a tree. For many reasons his family didn't buy the official story.

  There was no press release from the police, no local media coverage. Until very recently the only mention of Clark's death online was at

  That website post was challenged by WGMD News in the Morning host Bill Colley who subsequently interviewed Mr. Alston of Dover on air. Then the Antonio Prado of the Dover Post printed this report of a Dover Town Council meeting:

    • ###
      Former Delaware State University professor Dr. Jahi Issa and Dover resident EShed Alston continued their push for investigations into lynchings in Dover in the 21st Century during Monday night's Dover City Council meeting. Joining them in their cause was local political candidate Doug Beatty, an Independent.
  • Dover resident EShed Alston, former Delaware State University professor Dr. Jahi Issa and state House of Representatives District 34 Independent candidate Doug Beatty also demanded that the city continue to investigate the vulgar leaflet that depicted a racial slur that was circulated within the city beginning late in 2011.
    "This flyer says, 'Cleaning up the streets of Dover one nigger at a time,'" Alston said, holding up the leaflet before council during its Monday night meeting. "And it contains an image of a black person hanging from a tree [next to a Nazi symbol]."
    Alston said he suspected the city had conducted a "cover up" of what he described as the lynching of Johnny Clark, who was black, in Silver Lake Park, on May 12.
    "According to the official city line, he committed suicide," Alston said. "Since then and subsequent to that, we had another individual who was treated in the same way at the same location. This is not an individual circumstance involving Mr. Clark."
    After public comment, Alston presented the Dover Post with an affidavit in which Henry Fordham, a black man, alleged that "two crazy white boys" attempted to lynch him in Silver Lake Park on Sept. 21.
    "What I'm demanding here is an investigation because our kids mean something to us, gentlemen and ladies," he said. "If this was a situation where this was a Caucasian who had been tortured or killed by black domestic terrorists, then something would be done in the city of Dover."
    In response, Dover Police Chief James Hosfelt said after City Council's meeting Monday night that investigations concluded that Clark's death was in fact a suicide while Fordham's allegation that he suffered an attempted lynching was found to be unsubstantiated. He called the persistent belief that a lynching and an attempted lynching had occurred "unfortunate."
    Back during public comment, Issa said he had written extensively on the sensitive subject of lynching. His doctorate in American history focused on the South, which officially includes the state of Delaware according to America's geographic divisions.
    "This flyer that Mr. Alston showed you started circulating at the end of last year," said Issa, who was fired from DSU after leading a student protest. "I first got a hold of it in February. I started investigating it as a member of the NAACP to see if there was any validity to it.
    • "I don't know if the city really understands the seriousness of this. But, as an African American intellectual who has a Ph.D. in history, I know what that means," Issa said. "Lynchings are political. They're more than just a murder. And they have a long history of white supremacist behavior. I never thought I would in my lifetime be an advocate against this, which intellectuals like W.E.B. DuBois [fought] a hundred years ago. Here we are again."
      Issa was arrested during a student protest March 1, 2011 for what DSU officials said was disorderly conduct. He was subsequently fired in August.
      Beatty, of Magnolia, said he first learned of the alleged lynching in May, the abduction in September and the racist leaflet during a Dover Post candidates forum held Oct. 9. That is when Alston asked Beatty, and Republican incumbent State Rep. Donald Blakey for the 34th District and Democratic challenger Ted Yacucci if they were aware of the alleged lynching and attempted lynching. None of them had heard and were perplexed by Alston's question in the 21st Century.
      "I've spoken to the second victim on the phone, I've interviewed fourteen people on the street and I've talked to some of our legislators," Beatty said. "One of the state senators said this was all B.S. and somebody was trying to start a race riot. If that's true, I want to know who."
      Beatty added that members of Clark's family and other community members did not believe that Clark committed suicide.
      Hosfelt said Dover Police conducted a thorough investigation into the death of Clark as well as a review of that investigation and concluded that his death was in fact a suicide.
      "It's an unfortunate thing," he said.
      City police also investigated the September incident alleged by Fordham, Hosfelt said. Police first contacted Fordham at 6 a.m. Sept. 21 because a resident reported he was in her backyard acting irrational.
      Fordham's initial report was that he was kidnapped from the halfway house he lives in on North New Street, Hosfelt said. He said two white men forced entry into his house at 15 N. New Street and removed him at gunpoint and drove him down to Silver Lake to try to drown him.
      "When we got there, his clothes were dry and the [New Street] homeowner rebutted claims about anyone invading her home," Hosfelt said. 'Then, he changed his story to he was walking his dog when two white men drove up in a pickup truck and [forcibly took] him."

      • Police poked holes in that story when the New Street homeowner said Fordham did not own a dog, Hosfelt said.
        Police then transported Fordham to Bayhealth-Kent General Hospital for treatment, but he became argumentative with staff and fled before he could be treated, Hosfelt said.
        As for the racist flyer, police had no leads, Hosfelt said. Anyone with information was urged to contact police.
        Mayor Carleton E. Carey Sr. said he had the utmost confidence in Dover Police's investigations. And the racist flyers would not be tolerated, he added.
        "We take this stuff very seriously," he said. "We want Dover to be a good place for our citizens to live."


          Perhaps worth noting that Mr. Alston had requested in writing through channels the opportunity to speak on the agenda for the City Council meeting. The Council seemed to do everything possible to keep our statements off the official record. Kudos to Mr. Prado for printing the article.

         Jump to September 21 2012. At approximately 6:00 a.m. Dover Police Responded to a residence near the same area of Silver Lake park where Clark died in response to the resident's call concerning a man in her yard. Dover P.D. Chief reports that the resident reported a man acting irrationally.

         Henry J. Fordham had visible injuries that warranted transporting him to Kent General Hospital. He claimed to have been abducted by two white males who attempted to lynch him. Police dismissed his story after he reportedly gave two demonstrably false accounts concerning how he came to be in the custody of his alleged abductors.

        This picture of Fordham taken on September 21 in the daytime. Mr. Fordham reports that this injury ensued from a knife attack by his assailants in the early morning of 21Sept2012. 
        Photo by Dr. Jahi Issa.

        According to Dr. Issa and local paralegal Eshed Alston this wound is a cut from the outside of Fordham's mouth that goes through to the inside of his mouth.
        Photo by Dr. Jahi Issa.

        Mr. Fordham maintains that this mark was caused by his assailants trying to strangle him. 
        Photo by Dr. Jahi Issa. 

        All photos taken on 21 September 2012

          On September 27 2012 there was a meeting of the Dover Delaware Human Relations Commission. Henry Fordham, Wanda Clark, and Donald Clark spoke to the commission about what they felt was a murder and an attempted murder.

           A family member testified that he had last seen his brother Johnny alive with the same two white males that allegedly abducted and assaulted Fordham. These individuals lived in the neighborhood where Clark and Fordham resided. The family member said he had been in a program with one of the white males.

        Video taken at Dover Human Relations Commission Meeting on 27Sep2012

          These two suicides defy suicide statistics in a town of less than 40,000 which is only 38% African American  within the very small geographical area where these deaths occured. That's quite a coincidence to put it mildly.

         Please don't take this blogger's word for that, check suicide statistics for yourself. Non Hispanic black males are generally less likely than whites and Asians to commit suicide. Firearms are the most prevalent method of suicide for this demographic and location. Hanging from a tree in public view in two cases within blocks of each other and occurring in the context of a leaflet campaign between the first and most recent death makes the cases even more suspect.

         Factor in friends and family of both victims still in disbelief that their loved ones took their own lives.

            That alone should warrant a full review in view of the statistical improbability of two such suicides occurring in the manner suggested in a sick leaflet distributed to neighborhoods along Division St. in Dover after the first death and before the second.

          The mayor having full confidence in the police department's actions should welcome an independent review of both cases to vindicate the Dover P.D.. If this is not the case the issue won't be resolved within the City.
        Perhaps a committee should be named by the City Council to release as much information as possible to the public while conducting an impartial factual review of both cases.

        UPDATE: Henry Fordham and a resident of the house where the 911 call originated both refute the official line that a resident reported "a man acting irrational(sic)" in her yard. According to Mr. Ford and the resident, sounds of an altercation, yelling and screaming awoke the resident who turned on a floodlight. Both parties agree that Mr. Fordham fell to the ground yelling for help. Not at all irrational considering his injuries.

          Regardless of Mr. Fordham reportedly being evasive as to how he came to be in the company of his assailants, or his criminal record it would appear that there is probable cause to investigate an assault of Mr. Fordham. There is no case number, no complaint has been taken, and Chief Holsted when asked told me there was no probable cause to investigate an attack on Mr. Fordham.

          Probable cause must mean something else in Delaware. In general probable cause is observable facts or circumstances that would convince a reasonable and prudent person that an crime has been committed and in fact committed by a specific person or persons.

         Fordham identified two men who lived in his neighborhood, two men who haven't been seen by neighbors since the day Fordham came into contact with Dover P.D. at approximately 0600 hours on 21Sep2012.
        Something ain't right.

        Original portions copyright 2012 Doug Beatty.