Hearne, Texas: Cop Murders 93-Year-Old Woman

May 13, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


From a reader:

Pearlie Golden, a Black woman, lived most of her 93 years in the central Texas town of Hearne. She was affectionately known to many people on Hearne's west side as “Miss Sully.”

Perlie Golden, 1980s

Pearlie Golden in family photo from 1980s.

On May 6, Pearlie Golden was shot to death in front of her home by a Hearne cop named Stephen Stem. The Hearne Police Department said in a written statement that Pearlie Golden had “brandished a gun” at Stem before he shot at her five times, hitting her at least three times. A man on an adjacent street when this went down said he heard the shots, and then heard someone scream, “Don't shoot her no more!”

Pearlie Golden was beloved by generations of people in Hearne, known for her commitment to recycling and keeping the neighborhood tidy, and for greeting everyone she encountered with a big smile and a warm “hey baby!” None of this mattered to the pig who gunned her down. To him, Pearlie Golden was a Black woman who supposedly had a gun in her hand – all the excuse he needed to shoot her down. One man, a retired professor, told the Hearne newspaper, “There's no justification … She was no threat to them.”

Brutal oppression of Black people is built deeply into every aspect of this system. It permeates every aspect of the culture and social relations. Police brutality and murder, mass incarceration and criminalization, are at the heart of enforcing it. Black youth are routinely murdered by police departments across the country: Oscar Grant and Sean Bell were both 23 when they were gunned down, Grant in Oakland, California, Bell in New York – the list is long, painful, and infuriating. But this oppression knows no age: in recent years cops also killed seven-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones in Detroit. And now, 93-year-old Pearlie Golden.

Stephen Stem has been on the Hearne Police Department for less than three years – Pearlie Golden was the second Black person he's killed in that time. In 2012, Stem shot and killed Tederalle Satchell. A grand jury in Robertson County refused to indict Stem for that murder. After the murder of Pearlie Golden, a cousin of Satchell’s asked a reporter, “What are they going to do, let him go so he can smile and hold another pistol? You know what I mean? It's not right!” Stem was fired from the police force but has not been indicted or charged, as of this writing, for the murder of Pearlie Golden.

Hearne is in Texas cotton country, and it reeks with the stench of the slave-owning plantation South, and the brutal, open oppression and brutality of Jim Crow. In 2000, 28 Black people in Hearne were set up and arrested in a series of drug raids that the ACLU described as “paramilitary.” There was no evidence against them, only the uncorroborated word of one informant who was later shown to have lied about everything to save his own skin. Five long years later, the charges were finally dismissed. (A dramatic depiction of the arrests and legal battle is in the movie American Violet.) The son of Hearne's mayor and who is a city councilman himself, recently put a racist rant in the form of a rap on YouTube.

Several hundred angry people marched through Hearne on May 8. They chanted and carried homemade signs reading things like “No Justice, Time to Fight,” and demanded that Stem be fired. The town is simmering and further protests are likely.

Justice for Pearlie Golden! The Whole Damn System Is Guilty!


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