(TW: Racial violence, murder, desecration — video links may lead to graphic content)
(NOTE: As remarked in comments, there is video footage showing Rasheem Carter running in fear through the woods. I am not posting that video, and I would advise other commenters to please not post it in comments. None of our Black DKers need to see that and relive his trauma. Thanks.)
Rasheem Carter, 25 years old, was an entrepreneur who owned and operated Cali’s Express, a restaurant named for his daughter Cali. In 2022, he had a temporary job at a mechanical contracting company in Taylorsville, MS, but on October 1st, he texted his mother, Tiffany Carter, and sent her a terrifying message. He didn’t have a ride back to the hotel where he was staying, and he told her that white men in three pickup trucks were following him and shouting racial slurs.
And he added:
“Me and the owner of this company are not seeing eye to eye Mama… But if anything happen to me, he’s responsible for it… I’m too smart Mama, he got these guys wanting to kill me.”
Rasheem’s car had broken down two days before he was to start work, and a co-worker had offered to provide him with transportation. However, due to an argument, the co-worker put him out of their shared motel room; he had no place to say, was being harassed by white men in trucks, and his cell phone was dying with no way to recharge it.
Ms. Carter answered Rasheem’s text on October 2nd, telling him that her best friend would be coming to pick him up later that day. Rasheem gave her his exact location before ending the call. When her friend reached Taylorsville two hours later, Rasheem wasn’t there.
His remains were found one month later.
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Taylorsville, MS, is a “sundown town,” a place where Black people are not only made unwelcome, but made to fear for their lives as well. According to racial justice activist Marquell Bridges, “Taylorsville still has active Klan, it’s technically still a sundown town, and all of the Black people around Taylorsville pretty much know: ‘Don’t be caught around there.’”
As Clare Xanthos notes in her piece for Medium:
Contrary to popular belief, lynchings in Mississippi and other states have not disappeared in modern times; they have simply gone underground. The local police typically claim “no foul play”; the mainstream media ignore the story; and these “modern day lynchings” get swept under the rug. Jill Collen Jefferson, a lawyer and civil rights activist put it like this to the Washington Post:
“Lynchings in Mississippi never stopped. The evil bastards just stopped taking photographs and passing them around like baseball cards.”
Rasheem’s remains were located on private property on November 2, 2022. He had been decapitated and dismembered, yet after only one month his corpse was skeletonized — oddly, even the jeans he’d been wearing were gone. His skull was found in one place and his spinal cord in another.
The Taylorsville police — to whom Rasheem went for help twice, once on October 1, the second on October, before he disappeared and at his mother’s urging — gave Rasheem no help. Ms. Carter was able to hear her son’s interactions with the police (something they were apparently unaware of), and they informed him that they were (1) unable to give him a ride out of Taylorsville to his hotel; (2) unable to let him stay at the police station; and (3) unable to provide him with a phone charger. Nor did they even offer to call him a taxi. And when his remains were found, the police put forth the theory that Rasheem had been torn apart by wild animals.
As reported by Clare Xanthos for Medium, Attorney Ben Crump, representing the Carter family, rebutted that theory:
“His head was severed from his body… his vertebrate, his spinal cord, was in another spot they discovered away from his severed head.”
Despite the macabre state of Carter’s remains and the obviously sadistic nature of the crime, the local police immediately tried to push the theory that Rasheem’s body was torn apart by wild animals. But as Crump told Inside Edition, the fact that Carter was decapitated is indicative of homicide as opposed to animal activity:
“A head being decapitated seems to be not something that animals would do, but it seems like people would do.”
Furthermore, decapitation is something that has strong associations with the lynching of Black people in the American South. The Equal Justice Initiative (2017) notes that lynchings “often featured extreme brutality such as burning, torture, mutilation, and decapitation of the victim.”
The police have stonewalled the Carter family at nearly every turn, even as more of Rasheem’s remains were found — a third set on February 23, 2023 (his skull and spinal cord constituted two separate remains), and a fourth on April 30, 2023.
Horrifically, a fifth set may have just been discovered — and, according to Crump, the Carter family weren’t even notified by officials of the discovery via email, as per the third set, but were instead sent a video shot by a bystander of police retrieving said remains. Even when Ms. Carter was first informed of the discovery of Rasheem’s remains, when she traveled from her home in Pennsylvania to Jackson, MS to view his body, she was informed by the police department that she needed to fill out a form to do so — a form they claimed not to have, but which is digital. She has yet to see her son’s ravaged corpse.
While the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation is conducting a investigation into Rasheem’s death — after noting that it was “impossible” to determine a cause of death for Rasheem due to the state of his remains — the Carter family and Ben Crump are calling for the Department of Justice to enter the case, based on what Crump calls state authorities’ “stonewalling.”
"Mississippi, all America's watching to see if you're going to do right by Rasheem Carter," Crump said. "His brokenhearted mother has nightmares at night about what her son must have been doing as a result of this lynching in 2022." (Source: ABC News, abc7chicago.com/...)
In the meantime, Tiffany Carter has started a GoFundMe campaign to help defray the legal costs of investigating Rasheem’s death, as she has been unable to work due to the ongoing nature of the investigation and her own trauma from losing her son to what can only be called the American Nightmare.
EDIT: This story is gaining attention on Twitter as well. Below are some tweets regarding Rasheem Carter’s case — the first of which was brought to my attention by Denise Oliver-Velez in comments:
For those who have a problem reading Twitter, user Horatio Flamethrower (@blindmellojelly) states:
Wait one damn minute. He was decapitated and his body was found in a different location. The local authorities ruled no foul play? So the local LEO's thi k he cut his own head off and Sleepy Hollow walked his body somewhere else? IKYFL!!
A response to a letter from Chris D. Hennis, DA for the 13th Circuit Court District in MS:
Again, for those who can’t read Twitter:
More on the DA’s letter:
Officials in MS seem so angry but I feel like they have nobody to blame but themselves. They attack the family, they attack the public and the media.. Do they ever look in the mirror?
One hopes this is setting fire to the feet of the officials in Mississippi, but I would rather that it wins a response from the Department of Justice — a swift one that will do more to ensure that Rasheem Carter’s murderers are brought to justice than anything Mississippi officials are willing to provide.