When I was reading up on political violence info for the post below, I came across this Wikipedia passage about the assassination of President McKinley.
In his September 7 statement, Czolgosz said that he had read eight days prior, in Chicago, that McKinley would be attending the Exposition. He immediately took a train to Buffalo and found lodgings in a boarding house. Czolgosz attended the fair on September 5 for President’s Day and heard McKinley’s speech. He was tempted to shoot the President then but he could not get close enough. Instead, he returned to the Exposition the next day. Goldman’s speech from May was still “burning [him] up”. He joined the line of people waiting to shake the president’s hand. Czolgosz wrapped his hand in a white handkerchief to hide the gun he was carrying. Secret Serviceman George Foster later explained his failure to observe Czolgosz’s wrapped-up hand by saying that Czolgosz was too closely bunched up to the man in front of him. However, at the trial, Foster also admitted to not noticing Czolgosz because he was paying close attention to James Parker, a six-foot six inch black waiter from Atlanta laid-off by the exposition’s Plaza Restaurant, who was standing immediately behind Czolgosz.
Okay, so the black guy was a big black guy, not just your run-of-the-mill black guy. That must have made him scarier. Ironically, if the depiction I took from Wikipedia is accurate, Mr. Parker appears to have tried to save the President’s life.
After I read this I thought about a 60 Minutes story I watched back in the 1980s. In a county north of Miami, the Sheriff had a policy of pulling over every black male driver they saw on the main highway. He was unapologetic about it as he believed that it was an effective policy against the drug trafficking from Miami to the rural parts of the state. At the time I thought that all of the drug dealers in Miami who saw the piece would hire black drivers as decoys to be pulled over with the drug carrying vehicles with white drivers a minute or two behind them.
You have the moral and legal issues of profiling, but I do think McKinley’s death can reasonably be brought up to question the practicality of it.
The drawing is enlarged if you click on it.
Addendum: The depiction is correct. The profiled man was the hero. And then publicly attacked with his heroism denied and the Secret Service trying to take credit. Obviously the last thing the the Secret Service wanted was to be upstaged by the black guy.
Why haven’t I heard this story before?