After years of documenting organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan and various elements of the white nationalist movement, I wanted to broaden the scope of my work. In 2015 I started investigating murders that took place at the hands of rogue Ku Klux Klan members during the civil rights era. After two months of utilizing the Freedom of Information Act, reading hundreds of pages of FBI documents and cross-referencing locations with Google Earth, I compiled a list of 13 crime scenes that I felt compelled to visit (some crimes occurred outside of the civil rights era).
My journey took two weeks, across hundreds of miles in the deep south. After spending so much time reading the intimate details of these crimes I felt deeply affected. This was especially true in Homochitto National Forest, where based on testimony in 1966, the body of Ben Chester White was discovered by a family who had gone on a picnic.
Through their testimony and cross matching geological references I was able to find the location where Mr. White’s body was thrown into Petty Creek. The most troubling aspect of this particular shot was that I wasn’t exactly sure which side of the creek his body laid. There would only be a ten-foot disparity if I chose the wrong side of the creek, but this project was all about being precise. I then noticed the remains of a poached deer that had been tossed into the creek. The irony that there was a body discarded here in 1966, and here I was nearly 50 years later, with another life discarded in the same location.
Looking back, my time in Natchez, Mississippi was not only haunting after all those hours of reading testimonies, but also walking those same footsteps was heavy on my soul.