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Racial Tensions Flare Over Arrests of Black Men

September 15, 1986

KOUNTZE, Texas (AP) _ No new violence was reported over the weekend following cross-burnings in a community where three blacks were arrested and accused of raping two white teen-agers.

″It’s been peaceful ever since Saturday,″ said Sheriff H.R. ″Mike″ Holzapfel. ″It was the quietest, nicest weekend.″

After three reports of cross burnings were investigated, Holzapfel ordered increased patrols of city, county and state law officers, particularly in predominantly black neighborhoods.

About 100 blacks attended a meeting with Holzapfel and Mayor W.R. Overstreet on Saturday night.

″We need the crosses to quit burning. When you see crosses burning, that means one thing - the Ku Klux Klan - and the Klan has made it known around the world that we are nothing to them. That’s enough to arouse us as citizens,″ said Doris McDaniel, who is black.

Holzapfel would not comment on the cross-burnings, saying the meeting was intended to discuss the situation and settle rumors.

Earnest Young said he was visiting with a friend at a store a week ago when he saw a cross ablaze in the middle of a street.

″We went down to the cross. I’d say it was about four to five feet high in the middle of the street,″ he said. ″They put the fire out in two to three minutes. But when we got there, there was nobody there black or white.″

On Sunday, Holzapfel lifted his ban on liquor sales after 10 p.m. and said as long as everything stayed peaceful, he would not reissue it.

The three men arrested were identified as Tom Butler Bryant, 19, and Jimmy Ray Hunt, 20, both of Kountze; and Cory Earl Warren, 17, of Jasper. They were arraigned last week on charges of aggravated sexual assault in the rape of two teen-agers. The men remained jailed on $15,000 bond.

The teen-agers told police they were assaulted repeatedly at a residence during the early morning hours of Sept. 7. The sheriff said one of the men arrested was identified by the victims.

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