From Kansas City InfoZine:
Elderly Black Farmer Arrested on Terroristic Threatening Charges
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
By Monica Davis - Harry Young, an 82 year old black farmer from Owensboro, Kentucky has been released on $50,000 bond after being arrested on allegations of terroristic threatening. It all stems from a contested foreclosure and sale of his family farm in 2005.
Evansville, IN - infoZine - Young was arrested on allegations that he threatened a federal marshal five years ago and allegedly made a bomb threat to an employee of the Farm Services Agency over the phone a few days ago. Supporters are questioning the arrest on allegations that old, particularly given the fact that Young has consistently maintained an orderly, legal attempt to regain his land and has been in plain sight, presenting his case to Congress and to the world and working his rented fields for years.
Given the long standing feud between FSA employees and Young, critics also question the difference in the wording of the alleged threat, which changes, depending on whether the employee who received the “threat” is quoted, or whether the investigator is quoted.
Readers of a local newspaper question the “he said, she said” nature of the bomb threat. One reader noted:
“USDA has been known to use force and intimidation tactics before. And, it seems to me, they are using it in this man's case. Plain, cold fact here: the man is 82 years old. The government knows he hasn't that long to fight this and his children probably don't know first hand all the knowledge that can prove his case.
No sir, it's not just because you are Black. It's because you are old. (Maybe also) Notice they want him to go for a psych eval?
One thing usda never has: Proof. Did they record this conversation - no? His word vs theirs and I never have believed that lying government entity. (Evansville Courier, 4-24-09)
Since the foreclosure and auction his Utica, Kentucky farm in 2005, Young has given interviews, written hundreds of letters to Congress and newspapers and testified before Congress. His outspokenness has generated enmity from hate groups who have allegedly shot at his house, trespassed and vandalized his rented fields, and pulled gateposts out of the ground with a tractor. Young has also been the target of terrorist threats by phone.
Noting the historic institutional racism and anti-family farmer bias within the USDA, critics dubbed the USDA the “Last Plantation.” Even after years of investigations, lawsuits and congressional hearings, critics say the agency remains biased. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack says USDA and the Farm Services Agency (FSA) still have problems.
He told a group of black farmers at a conference sponsored by the Federation of Southern Cooperatives and the Land Assistance Fund, that "Some folks refer to USDA as the last plantation, and it has a pretty poor history of taking care of people of color.” (Congress Daily, 2-23-09)
Critics say the agency has been practicing agism, sexism and racism for so long, that discrimination against minority employees and farmers is part of the agency's work culture. “You've got outright bias and discrimination. Also you've got good people who don't even know that they're discriminating," said Vilsack. "It's necessary to begin the process of re-educating people." (Ibid)
Activists say “business as usual” at FSA includes document forgery, the illegal destruction of documents, identity theft and collusion with real estate developers, favored white farmers and county deed personnel. Farmers around the country have voiced complaints over alleged foot dragging and obstruction of Freedom of Information (FOIA) requests to the agency. Many say the information in their files is not accurate and often contains forged or incomplete documents.
As in the cases of tens of thousands of foreclosure cases, many documents are missing, or unavailable—even through Freedom of Information Requests. Mr. Young says he has a signed document from the local Farm Service Agency supervisor that his loan was paid.
This man is no terrorist. He's a Black man who has been done wrong. Plain and Simple.This systematic racism that pervades the Department of Agriculture....I'd leap to the betrayal of the Black Farmers by the President, but we'll get back to that in another post.