On July 14, 2015, Rexdale Henry, 53, was found dead in his prison cell at Neshoba County Jail. Now a private autopsy is being conducted to determine the cause of Henry’s death, which contributes to the ever-increasing body count of people of color dying at the hands—or in the supposed protection—of the United States criminal justice system.
A member of the Choctaw tribe, Henry committed himself to community activism and to his tribe’s traditions. He served as the medicine man for the Bogue Chitto Choctaw community and coached stickball. On June 9 he was arrested and ultimately imprisoned in Philadelphia, Mississippi’s Neshoba County Jail for failure to pay a fine. He was found dead in his cell one day after Sandra Bland was found hanging in hers.
Syracuse University law professors Janis McDonald and Paula Johnson, together with activists John Steele and Diane Nash, are aiding the Henry family as they navigate an investigation into this tragic and obscure death.
“At a time when the nation is focused on the terrible circumstances of the brutal death of Sandra Bland, it is critical to expose the many ways in which Black Americans, Native Americans, and other minorities are being arrested for minor charges and end up dead in jail cells,” said McDonald in a statement quoted by the Jackson Free Press.
At the time of his arrest, Henry showed no evidence of medical complications. The autopsy results should be released to the public once they are available.
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