At a remove of nearly 50 years, we tend to forget just how backwards, morally bankrupt, and racist some areas of Florida proudly lived, so much that doing the right thing of suspending a notorious hater and murderer of a sheriff took more courage than letting him continue his reign of terror.
The Orlando Sentinel recently noted in an item on former FL governor Reuben Askew that he suspended Sheriff Willis McCall who, "had a reputation as a racist."
"Reputation," hell this racist son of a bitch gained worldwide infamy as a racist, power drunk fascist bastard who managed to carve out a 300 acre homestead overlooking a lake while on a relatively modest paycheck as a public servant, as profiled in a 1972 Life magazine profile on Sheriff Willis McCall, which noted his reputation as a "...heavy handed lawman sympathetic to the citrus industries for cheap labor." Soon, workers claimed the Sheriff jailed, or fined, or beat them if they failed to show up for work in the citrus groves.
Lucky for the workers, however, that they did not get shot at the whim of the sheriff as did Walter Lee Irvin and Samuel Sheperd, 2 black men whose convictions for rape got overturned and then transported by McCall from the state prison back to Lake County for retrial. Unlucky for them, they decided to try and rush the Sheriff who had stopped to check for tire trouble, or so the Sheriff testified in front of an all white jury empaneled to judge his actions.
Shot in the head, chest, and neck, Irvin survuved to testify the Sheriff tried to execute them both. Why bother with a new trial for these convicted rapists; better to have he Sheriff serve as judge, jury and executioner. For this, the Sheriff gained worldwide infamy.
Of course, the Sheriff held onto his office for years more until courageously suspended by Governor Reuben Askew in 1972 for stomping a prisoner to death.
So the so called "Sentinel" manages to whitewash recent history, refusing to call an obvious racist a racist sumbitch.