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The actual Ku Klux Klan application form
04.10.2015
10:22 am

Topics:
Belief
Crime
Race

Tags:
terrorism
Ku Klux Klan
white supremacy


 
The Ku Klux Klan are America’s leading terrorist organization—there isn’t really much competition, it wins that contest by a wide margin. If you want a quick ‘n’ easy way to find out everything about the darker side of our country’s history, you really can’t beat a tour of the KKK, and if you have any real problem with my description of the KKK as a terrorist organization, you need to go read any random four pages of Eric Foner’s Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877.

Rebecca Onion at Slate posted this incredible find yesterday—it’s an application to the Ku Klux Klan from (most likely) 1921. The KKK’s status as America’s foremost secret organization obscures the fact that in the early decades of the twentieth century, the Klan was almost respectable—it was the second resurgence of the group, the first obviously coming right after the Civil War (the third would come during the Civil Rights Era). Bolstering the theory that this application derives from 1921, we have this chunk of text from Wikipedia:

Starting in 1921, it adopted a modern business system of recruiting (which paid most of the initiation fee and costume charges as commissions to the organizers) and grew rapidly nationwide at a time of prosperity. Reflecting the social tensions of urban industrialization and vastly increased immigration, its membership grew most rapidly in cities, and spread out of the South to the Midwest and West. The second KKK preached “One Hundred Percent Americanism” and demanded the purification of politics, calling for strict morality and better enforcement of prohibition. Its official rhetoric focused on the threat of the Catholic Church, using anti-Catholicism and nativism. Its appeal was directed exclusively at white Protestants. Some local groups took part in attacks on private houses and carried out other violent activities. The violent episodes were generally in the South.

According to the same page, by 1924 the enrollment of the KKK had risen to nearly six million from almost nothing. Just a few years earlier, D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation, which extolled the KKK, had become the world’s first monster box office hit; President Woodrow Wilson famously described it as follows: “It is like writing history with lightning, and my only regret is that it is all so terribly true.” Baseball fans interested in history get upset about supposed racist Ty Cobb while generally ignoring the KKK membership of Hall of Famers Tris Speaker (allegedly) and Rogers Hornsby. The point here is that KKK membership in the 1920s was not incompatible with being one of the most famous athletes in the country. In his book The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, James notes:
 

The KKK in the 1920’s had a populist phase in which it toned down its racism, and drew in hundreds of thousands of men who were not racists, including Hugo Black. When Larry Doby broke the color line in the American League, Speaker was strongly on his side, worked with him daily in the outfield, encouraged and supported him, and was remembered by Doby in his Hall of Fame induction speech…

 
Doby’s speech, by the way, is here. That, more than anything, explains the semi-official and semi-innocuous tone of this document. If not for the content, the form is in many ways indistinguishable from the kind of information HR’s gonna need for you to start getting a weekly paycheck for your cubicle job. Of course, at the same time, simply reading the questions will tell you pretty much everything you need to know about the Ku Klux Klan.

Here are the questions:
 

1. Is the motive prompting your inquiry serious?
2. What is your age?
3. What is your occupation?
4. Where were you born?
5. How long have you resided in your present locality?
6. Are you married, single or widower?
7. Were your parents born in the United States of America?
8. Are you a gentile or a jew?
9. Are you of the white race or of a colored race?
10. What educational advantages have you?
11. Color of eyes? Hair? Weight?
12. Do you believe in the principles of a PURE Americanism?
13. Do you believe in White Supremacy?
14. What is your politics?
15. What is your religious faith?
16. Of what church are you a member (if any)
17. Of what religious faith are your parents?
18. What secret, fraternal orders are you a member of (if any)?
19. Do you honestly believe in the practice of REAL fraternity?
20. Do you owe ANY KIND of allegiance to any foreign nation, government, institution, sect, people, ruler or person?

 
This is a weird thing to confess, but I was always a good test-taker in school, and as I read through this list I find myself idiotically looking for the smoking gun question that will disqualify me. “Aw, shoot! My mom was born in Austria, was half-Jewish and a socialist! Darn! Just missed!”

Here’s the application itself—note that clicking on the image will let you read a larger version.
 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Say WHAT? Deputy sheriffs force prison inmates to fight like gladiators—and bet on the result
03.27.2015
08:32 am

Topics:
Crime
Stupid or Evil?

Tags:
prison
gambling


 
It’s been a bad time for law enforcement, as scandals involving abuse of authority (oftentimes with lethal results) have been a mainstay of news coverage since last summer, after the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri; Eric Garner in Staten Island, NY; and Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Ohio at the hands of police officers. The three killings, which seemed to point to serious structural race issues not only in the police but in society at large, sparked large-scale protests about police brutality and racial equity. In addition to that the stop and frisk controversies in New York and the recent attention paid to subjects like the militarization of police forces around the country and civil forfeiture have given ordinary citizen cause to be suspicious of the motives and methods of law enforcement personnel.

Yesterday the San Francisco Chronicle published a remarkable story that threatens to add to the list of at best questionable and almost certainly felonious practices among law enforcement personnel—San Francisco deputy sheriffs purportedly forcing inmates to “fight each other, gladiator-style, for the entertainment of the deputies.”
 

Since the beginning of March, at least four deputies at County Jail No. 4 at 850 Bryant St. threatened inmates with violence or withheld food if they did not fight each other, gladiator-style, for the entertainment of the deputies, Public Defender Jeff Adachi said.

Adachi said the ringleader in these fights was Deputy Scott Neu, who was accused in 2006 of forcing inmates to perform sexual acts on him.

-snip-

“I don’t know why he does it, but I just feel like he gets a kick out of it because I just see the look on his face,” said Ricardo Palikiko Garcia, one of the inmates who said he was forced to fight. “It looks like it brings him joy by doing this, while we’re suffering by what he’s doing.”

-snip-

Neu told Garcia and Harris that if they required medical attention, they were to lie and say they fell off a bunk, Garcia said.

“And he told me anything goes,” he said. “Just don’t punch the face, so no one can basically see the marks. But anything goes, other than the face.”

Garcia said that at 5 feet 9 and 150 pounds, he was the smallest man in the pod while Harris, at 6 feet and 350 pounds, was the biggest.

During the first fight, which took place in a part of a hallway that was blocked from view, Neu appeared to have been betting on Harris, Garcia said, who tapped out after the smaller man got him in a headlock.

 
These accusations come from public defender Jeff Adachi, who called the nightmarish bouts “outrageously sadistic scenarios, that sound like its out of Game of Thrones.” In one of those denials that don’t sound all that convincing, an attorney for the San Francisco Deputy Sheriff’s Association, the union representing the deputies, said that the allegations were “exaggerated,” and characterized the fighting as “little more than horseplay.”

Harris said Neu had a tattoo on his right arm and lower leg reading, “850 Mob,” possibly in connection to the jail’s location at 850 Bryant St.

Here’s a report from KNTV, the NBC affiliate in the Bay Area:
 

 
via SFist
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Watch The Fall break up into a million shards, live at Brownie’s in NYC, 1998
03.26.2015
10:19 am

Topics:
Crime
Music
Punk

Tags:
The Fall


 
This exchange happened after the Fall’s gig at Brownie’s on the Lower East Side of NYC on April 7, 1998:
 

Fan 1: “That was the scariest thing I ever saw. Now I know who I want to go as for Halloween.”
Fan 2: “You mean Mark E. Smith? You don’t understand…he’s not usually like this.”
Fan 1: “Oh, that’s too bad. I feel like I finally saw my first real punk band! That was the greatest show I ever saw in my life.”

 
That reaction merely scratched the surface of what happened that night. An actual fight broke out between longtime Fall drummer Karl Burns and frontman Mark E. Smith midway through the set. Before the sun would rise the next morning, Mark E. Smith would be arrested for assault. Even more momentously, it would emerge that the three members of the then-quintet who left the stage in the middle of the final song had played their last Fall gig ever, including Burns, who had been with the band since 1977, and Steve Hanley, the Fall’s utterly essential bassist who had been slogging it out with Mark E. Smith since 1979. The combination of Hanley and guitarist Craig Scanlon, who had left the band in 1995, was every bit as crucial to the Fall’s elusive brilliance during the early 1980s as MES himself, as can be witnessed on such phenomenal albums as Perverted by Language, This Nation’s Saving Grace, and Hex Enduction Hour. (Few pieces of music bring me as much joy as the lengthy “Garden” off of Perverted by Language.)

It couldn’t have been easy being such a close compadre of volatile genius/crabapple Mark E. Smith for two decades, but in April 1998 frustrations boiled over. Three days earlier, tempers had flared during a show in Philadelphia; Hanley and Smith got into a “fight,” according to WPRB DJs who attended the gig, and half the band quit the stage in disgust, leaving just Smith and keyboardist Julia Nagle on the stage (which would happen again a few days later at Brownie’s). After the show there was an extensive discussion of the fracas on WPRB (this clip is very entertaining). Julia’s rebuttal, written ten years after the fact, can be found here, along with that clip:
 

the UK tour prior to the US had also been a shambles, as the group had received a large VAT/TAX bill and were not happy chickens (threats of houses being lost etc. were the main topic of conversation or argument). Also, regarding to the incident at the beginning of the US tour, I defended myself with my fists during an argument about sharing a room with Mark and in the morning he had a black eye from that fracas. (there were many fracas’s during this time in The Falls history and they were nothing to be proud of).

 
Continues after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘How the Rules of Evidence Handcuff the Piano Man’ and more from the Billy Joel law conference
03.24.2015
09:11 am

Topics:
Crime
Music

Tags:
Billy Joel
lawyers


Billy Joel surveys the damage done by a rock-throwing hoodlum
 
If you’re like me, you can’t hear the Billy Joel song “All for Leyna” without wondering whether Leyna would have benefited a solid grounding in tort and accident law. And Brenda and Eddie, from “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant,” who “got a divorce as a matter of course,” who represented them in that legal matter? Well,  wonder no more.

In Central Islip, NY, legal scholars from all over North America gathered to honor Long Island’s foremost bard, Billy Joel with academia’s most esteemed form of celebration: the academic conference. Yes, that’s right: the Touro Law Center hosted a two-day conference called “Billy Joel and the Law” at the Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center on March 22 and 23.

The program promised the following: “Speakers at the conference will include judges, lawyers, law professors, and music scholars, who will discuss ways in which Billy Joel’s work relates to American law, society, and culture.” The brainy festivities included “a wine and cheese reception with musical performances related to the educational content of the program.” No, in case you were wondering, Billy Joel did not supply the music for the conference. 

There were the usual paper titles that played on Joel’s song and album titles, such as “Downeaster Alexa: a Perfect Storm of Regulations,” “Behind the Nylon Curtain: Billy Joel, the Reagan Revolution, and the Unraveling of the ‘Me’ Generation,” and “The Minstrel Testifies or How the Rules of Evidence Handcuff the Piano Man.” How did they neglect to do anything with “You May Be Right.” And not a single mention of “Lawyers in Love”!! (Oh wait, that’s Jackson Browne.)

Here’s my best guess as to what Billy Joel would have looked like had he not become a rock and roll troubadour but instead had decided to become a law professor:
 

 
via Lawyers, Guns, and Money

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Crime Wave: Vintage photos of when Chicago was a gangster’s paradise

00copgun.jpg
Stick ‘em up!: A cop with a gun.

Watching too many Jimmy Cagney movies as child made me think being a gangster might be a possible occupation. It was easy to imagine myself in charge of some numbers racket, or selling moonshine, riding the running board while blasting the competition with a machine-gun. Even the names sounded exotic: Al Capone, Bugs Moran, John Dillinger, Tony Accardo. Then I turned six—discovered soccer and the fancy footwork skills of players like Jimmy “Jinky” Johnstone and Harry Hood who made me think playing for Celtic would be better.

Gangsters and Grifters is a book of photographs compiled from the extensive crime archive of the Chicago Tribune. The book contains a collection of rarely seen photos of infamous gangsters, murderers, thieves, pickpockets, bandits, molls as well as the cops who brought them to justice from 1900-1950. These vintage glass-plate and acetate negatives captured many legendary moments in criminal history—from which this small selection has been culled.
 
002capon.jpg
Al Capone making an appearance in court, date unknown. Capone had a seven year reign of terror on the streets of Chicago during the 1920s. He was believed to have been responsible for the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. He was eventually busted for tax evasion and sentenced to gaol. He suffered from tertiary syphilis and died of cardiac arrest in 1947.
 
004valenguns.jpg
Cops examine guns suspected of being used in the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, when six mobsters where shot dead—you’d have thought the cops might have been grateful. One of the shooters was thought to be mob enforcer Tony Accardo.
 
018hooch.jpg
Prohibition helped the rise of gangsters like Al Capone, who ran hooch and illegal drinking dens. Here cops inspect some of the alcohol Capone and his associates were running.
 
012alcapbeer2.jpg
Capone on another visit to court.
 
 
More vintage crime shots, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Website collects the mugshots and final words of prisoners executed by the state of Texas since 1982
03.19.2015
01:16 pm

Topics:
Crime
Politics

Tags:
Texas
death penalty


“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who lives, but Christ who lives in me. So for the life for which I live now in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me. I love you, Annie. You have been the best friend I have ever had in the world. I’ll see you when you get there, okay? I am ready, Warden.” Richard Foster, 47, Parker County 
 
Presented without polemic or political commentary, the blog “Lasting Statement” collects the final statements and mugshots of individuals executed by the state of Texas since 1982. Though a quick Google often brings up the crime associated with the name, no trial information is given, so the words and faces of the convicted are separated from the events leading up to the moment before their execution. It’s one of the more affecting archives I’ve seen.

Though a few people declined to make a statement, most gave very reflective—and sometimes quite moving—final words, likely owing to the fact that most of them waited for many years on death row before their execution, giving them plenty of time to meditate and receive counseling or spiritual guidance. Gratitude, both religious and familial, is very common (a few even thank their lawyers). Many apologize to family (both the victim’s and their own) and religious sentiments are predictably pervasive. Surprisingly, very few inmates used the opportunity to insist upon their innocence. Given the frequency of wrongful convictions, it leaves one to wonder if those who still deny the crime in their final hour are telling the truth.
 

“Yes. My last statement. I was wrongfully convicted of this crime against Michael Watkins and James Williams on 10th Street on August 31, 1993. I got convicted on a false confession because I never admitted to it, but my lawyer did not put this out to the jury. I did not kill those drug dealers. I send love to my family and friends; my east side family and friends. I am being real with the real. That’s all that counts in my heart. I will see you later. That’s it.” Gerald Tigner, 29, McLennan County

 


“Mama Isabel told me to tell you hello. Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty! Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee; Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty! God in three Persons, blessed Trinity. Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty. All Thy works shall praise Thy name, in earth, and sky, and sea; Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty! God in three Persons, blessed Trinity. Oh, our Father who art in heaven, holy, holy, holy be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our sin as we forgive our debtors. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Now, Father, into Thy hands I commit my spirit. Amen.” Jose Gutierrez, 39, Brazos County

 


“God forgive them, God forgive them for they know not what they do. After all these years my people are still lost in hatred and anger. Give them peace God for people seeking revenge towards me. I love you guys, I love you guys. God give them peace. I love you Chiquita. Peace, Freedom, I’m ready.” John Amador, 32, Bexar County

 


“Tell my family I love y’all. Watch out for Momma. Don’t want to talk too much, I will cry. I’ll just cry everywhere. I’m sorry, Teach, for not being a better son and not doing better things. It wasn’t your fault. You raised me the way you should, at least I won’t be there no more. I miss you, too. I see you there, you doing alright? I sent you a letter. Neckbone, there’s a sheet, I got your name on it. Keep on writing, now. Write to the, hun. Charles, keep the right, now. You people over there. You know what these people are doing. By them executing me ain’t doing nothing right. I don’t weigh 180 pounds and 5’7”. Take care, love y’all. Did Roger come up here yet? Tell Pat and them I love them. I’m gonna go ahead and let them do what their gonna do. Help your sister, see ya later Pat, love ya Becca. Do what you do, Warden” Vincent Cooks, 37, Dallas County

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Cards for Convicts: When you care enough to send an inmate the very best
03.11.2015
06:41 am

Topics:
Crime
Unorthodox

Tags:
prison

Hard Time
 
It’s often been said that the most successful business owners really know their audience. Not sure of his back story, but Tennessee-based Jason Brown seems to know a lot about prison culture. His company, Cards for Convicts, makes a line of black-and-white greeting cards geared to inmates.

Serving time is a serious matter, of course, but Brown is trying to take some of the sting out of being in the Big House:

Our allegiance lies with those sentenced to suffer and we make it our mission to ease their suffering. With words we tear down walls and reach through the glass. We keep hope alive everyday come mail-call. We understand the feeling an inmate gets when their name is called in front of everyone making it clear that they are not forgotten and that someone, somewhere still cares a great deal for them.

Here’s a look at some of the cards.

This is a special birthday card for an incarcerated loved one:

Happy Birthday
 
It reads:

Happy Birthday
May your favorite meal be served at dinner,
Your day be lock-down free,
And you be one day closer to being home.

Conjugal visits might hard to get, but a card that pokes fun at a prisoner’s breath isn’t:

Conjugal visits
 
Here’s one daddy’s girl can send that pulls on the ol’ heartstrings:

A little older
 
This card might arrive a little too late:

Mugshot
 
Parents of prisoners, there’s one you can send to your “baby”:

baby
 
This one is pretty cheeky:

mistakes were made
 
There’s even sexy time messages:
Sexy time
 
Check out more of these cards.  Each are priced at $2.50. Here’s hoping you’re never in a position to receive one.

Posted by Rusty Blazenhoff | Leave a comment
When sex was a crime: List of penalties for sodomy, fornication, adultery & cohabitation in the USA
03.03.2015
07:17 am

Topics:
Crime
History
Sex

Tags:
penalties for sex offenses

001xeslbob.jpg
 
According to this list of “Penalties for Sex Offenses in the United States” published in 1964 by Harry Hay’s pioneering “homophile” rights group, the Mattachine Society, most of us could have been at best fined or at worst arrested and sent away to prison for a very long time had we simply been doing what we take for granted today.

Take Connecticut for example, where sodomy (or “the crime against nature” as it is described here) brought a sentence of 30 years; or in Kentucky, where you could be given a two-five year sentence; or Maine one-ten years; and 20 years in either Massachusetts or Minnesota. The term “sodomy” included:

...a wide variety of “unnatural” sexual activity, with animals or with another person of either sex, both within and outside marriage.

That’s a fairly broad definition, don’t you think?

Fornication in most states brought a fine of between $20-$500 plus three months to six years jail time, or worse in Alaska where you could be fined $300 or given two years in prison. This might explain why so many Americans marry rather than live together—as opposed to Europe. According to US figures 8.1 million unmarried Americans were cohabiting in 2011, compared to 5.9 million (or 11.7%) of the UK population who cohabited in 2102.

If two years jail time didn’t make you twice about sex before marriage, then being caught committing adultery could cost you a minimum of $10 (Rhode Island) up to $500-$1000 and/or six months to one year (Nevada) or five years (Connecticut) or five years/$1000 fine (Maine).

Add to this, your time in jail and/or fine could be doubled for a second conviction—though penalties for women were less being: “$10 to $30 or 1-3 yrs.”

Thankfully, times have changed, but incredibly sodomy laws were not lifted nationally until this millennium, in 2003.
 
00listofsexpenalties.jpg
 
listofsexpenalties.jpg
 
H/T Flashbak

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Werewolf’ allegedly murders his vampire neighbor
02.27.2015
09:11 am

Topics:
Crime
Current Events

Tags:
Vampires
Werewolf


 
Here’s something you don’t hear every day: Mark Andrews, 51, of Atascadero, CA, who believes he’s a werewolf allegedly shot his neighbor Colleen Barga-Milbury, 52, twice because he was convinced that she was a vampire. 

Defense witness Carolyn Murphy, a forensic psychologist said, “(He believes) he transforms into a werewolf,” and “holds the spirit of the wolf.”

The first record of Andrews believing he was a werewolf, she said, dates to 1996, though she suspects he had that same delusion during his first psychotic episode three years earlier.

Murphy said Andrews believed the voice of God commanded him to kill Barga-Milbury, whom he believed was a vampire.

In 2009 Andrew became convinced that another one of his neighbors was a vampire:

Andrews believed a different neighbor was a vampire. Andrews left mounds of dirt and flour on that neighbor’s door and once pounded on the neighbor’s door, calling her a “bitch,” though she didn’t answer.

At his home, according to police reports, police found two lists of names, several marked “hate with death.”

As to why Andrews didn’t kill this particular vampire neighbor “God didn’t tell him to kill her” Murphy said.

Mark Andrews has believed himself to be a werewolf for the past 20 years. During the time of the murder, Andrews was apparently not taking his medication.

Via Tribune News Death and Taxes

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Steve Strange & Chrissie Hynde offend all of England as punk band The Moors Murderers, 1978

00moorsm2.jpg
 
Before Steve Strange became known as a club host at Blitz and a New Romantic pop star with Visage, he was in a punk band with Chrissie Hynde called The Moors Murderers. It’s fair to say, there was a tacit understanding with some elements of punk that to cause offense was an acceptable way to achieve notoriety. Having a band called The Moors Murderers was certain to bring considerable opprobrium and cause offense to the Great British public as the band’s name referred to the notorious serial killers Ian Brady and Myra Hindley who had raped and murdered five children in Manchester, England, between 1963 and 1965, burying their bodies on Saddleworth Moor. To this day the body of one victim Keith Bennett has never been recovered.

Brady and Hindley were a dark stain on the colorful psychedelia of the swinging sixties. Their evil deeds had a troubling influence on many writers and artists, perhaps most notably Morrissey who used the brutal killings as material for songs and may have even named his band after the Brady/Hindley associates and in-laws David and Maureen Smith—or as they were called by the press at the time, “the Smiths.”
 
00moorsmband1.jpg
 
Steve Strange’s involvement with punk came when he saw the Sex Pistols perform at the Castle Cinema in Caerphilly, Wales, in December 1976. The gig changed the teenager’s life and he became friends with the band’s bass player Glen Matlock. Strange was then known by his real name Steven John Harrington, and inspired by the Pistols he started booking punk bands to play gigs at his home town. He then moved to London and became part of the revenue of punks that orbited around Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren’s shop SEX on the King’s Road. Here he met the iconic Soo Catwoman, who first suggested forming a punk band called The Moors Murderers. As Soo later recalled:

“The Moors Murderers thing was a big joke to be honest. I was joking about getting a band together called the Moors Murderers and doing sleazy love songs, I had no idea he [Steve Strange] would actually go out and do it. …”

Strange certainly ran with the idea and approached Chrissie Hynde telling her about the band and singing her the song “Free Hindley.”

They say it started in 64
Myra Hindley was nothing more
Than a woman who fell for a man
Why shouldn’t she be free
Brady was her lover
Who told her what to do
Psychopathic killer-nothing new
Free Hindley Free

What she did was for love
The torture scenes the boys and girls
Hindley knew but couldn’t say
She was trapped by her love
What mother in her right mind
Would allow a girl at the age of nine
Be out on her own
Don’t blame Hindley
Blame yourselves
Brady was her lover
Who told her what to do
Psychopathic killer-nothing new
Why shouldn’t she be free?
Free Hindley Free

The Moors Murderers came out of the band The Photons, of which Strange was briefly a member. For a short time The Photons and The Moors Murderers coexisted as “essentially the same band.” According author Andrew Gillix:

Strange claimed to be part of a band called the Moors Murderers in order to do a photo shoot for German magazine Bravo. Catwoman says she was also present but left the shoot. Steve Strange may have played a gig with The Photons under the Moors Murderers monicker supporting The Slits at an NSPCC benefit concert at Ari Up’s school in Holland Park circa Christmas 1977.

At The Slits gig was musician and producer Dave Goodman, who had worked with the Pistols and Eater:

There was a support band who I assumed were friends of the Slits. They had this singer dressed in black leather calling himself ‘Steve Strange’. I also remember at least one female musician, who turned out to be Chrissie Hynde. They had a certain ‘first gig’ quality about them, their sound being somewhat chaotic and the lyrics virtually unintelligible.

I couldn’t believe it when they announced themselves as ‘The Moors Murderers’. It really was controversial. I had lived through that gruesome event and the darkness it brought to my childhood still felt gloomy. To protect me, my mum would remove any ‘Moors Murderers’ tabloid sensationalism from the papers, after first reading it herself.

After the show Steve Strange came up to me at the mixing desk and confirmed the band’s name. I’d heard right - it was as I thought. We got talking. It turned out that they had this song called ‘Free Hindley’. They had just performed it, but I hadn’t noticed. He had my interest - what was his motive behind it? Steve explained. He felt that it was hypocritical of the government to automatically consider other child murderers for parole after a certain length of time, while ignoring Hindley. Being a high profile case, I believe he felt they were just pandering to public demand. We also discussed change and to what level people can achieve it.

Strange told Goodman that he wanted to record a single “Free Hindley,” but Goodman suggested “two main things to Steve”:

1. To show he is not condoning murderers he should create a balance. Why not record the Ten Commandments to music for the B-side? You know, get out of it in the studio and really get into it man! He liked the idea.

2. Talk to Lord Longford, he’s been visiting Hindley in prison and is campaigning for her release. He liked that idea as well.

Strange arranged a hasty press shoot where the members of The Moors Murderers kept their anonymity by covering their heads with pillow cases. According to Goodman three of the group in the photo are “Strange, Chrissie Hynde and Nick Holmes (Eater’s roadie who is believed to have played guitar on ‘Free Hindley’).” The fourth maybe Mal Hart, who played bass on the track.
 
0044moorsmurstch.jpg
 
Understandably, a band associating itself with the country’s most reviled child killers soon saw them damned by the press. On January 8th, 1978, the Sunday Mirror published an article on The Moors Murderers asking “Why Must They Be So Cruel?”

As Strange was mainly unknown, The Moors Murderers was labeled as Chrissie Hynde’s band, much to her chagrin, as she became the focus of the media’s ire.

In mid-January Sounds music paper ran an article on The Moors Murderers—now apparently three members, again with their heads covered though this time with black bin bags. The band played the Sounds journalist four of their tracks “Free Hindley,” “Caviar and Chips,” “Mary Bell” (about the child murderess) and “The Streets of the East End.”
 
00moorsm3.jpg
 
According to Andrew Gallix, following the Sounds “showcase”

...the band played the Roxy on 13 January 1978, supporting Open Sore. Steve Strange was on vocals (calling himself Steve Brady) and Hynde was on guitar. Bob Kylie (Open Sore): “They were terrible! Absolutely dreadful!” On 28 January 1978, Strange told Sounds that he had left the band.

Whether “Free Hindley” was ever released as a single is debatable, but it was available on cassette as David Goodman recalls:

I remember hearing an acetate of the two recordings ‘Free Hindley’ and ‘The Ten Commandments’, possibly played to me by Nick Holmes the drummer. Not long after that, I saw an ad in the back of Melody Maker or NME for the sale of some ‘Moors Murderers’ acetates and cassettes @ £10 each I believe. I seem to remember Malcolm McLaren bringing that ad to my attention. Anyway, I didn’t buy one, I’d heard it once and that was enough.

Years later, when entering a record store in San Francisco, I saw a sign offering thousands of dollars for one. That was the only time I wished I’d grabbed one when I had the chance.

Chrissie Hynde went on to form the Pretenders in 1978, while Steve Strange eventually achieved success with electronic band Visage.

Below Chrissie Hynde talks about her involvement with The Moors Murderers.
 

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