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  WINDY CITY TIMES

1970: The Police Murder of James Clay
Excerpt from Chicago After Stonewall: Gay Lib to Gay Life
2021-04-26

This article shared 715 times since Mon Apr 26, 2021
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" … One month after Finnie's Ball, a Chicago Defender headline read, 'Female Impersonator killed by cop in W. Side street brawl.' The Chicago Sun-Times headline read, 'Man slain fleeing police in bizarre W. Side clash.' According to police, 24-year old African American James Clay was no angel, notching up 12 arrests for impersonating a person of the opposite sex, prostitution, battery, attempted murder and resisting arrest. This time, two patrolmen, James Finnelly and Thomas Bolling ('Bowling' in the Chicago Sun-Times), saw Clay waving down motorists in a 'suggestive manner.' When the cops questioned him, Clay hightailed it. Later the cops returned and Clay, now wearing a man's topcoat and slacks, was chased into a building where he allegedly pulled a knife on Finnelly. Clay then ran, but was gunned down, shot eight times in the head and abdomen.

New York's Gay Flames: A Bulletin of the Homofire Movement wrote:

"Street Transvestite Murdered

"The night before 'Thanksgiving,' the Chicago pigs showed us what we Gays have to be thankful for. 'James' Clay, a transvestite, was murdered in cold blood by James Finnelly and Thomas Bowling, two of Daley's 'finest' fascists.

"Clay, 'in women's clothes,' was standing by the street early in the morning. The policemen say he was trying to flag down motorists. Finnelly knew Clay. He had arrested him before. The fact that our half-sister was back on the streets was a tremendous insult to his cock privilege. So he tried to arrest Clay. Supposedly, Clay ran.

"According to the pigs, they tracked him down into an apartment house where he slashed out with a knife and got away. They 'shot to prevent his escape.'

"Eight shots in the back killed James Clay. He can not tell his story. We can't either but we can say one thing. Clay was in 'men's' clothes when he was killed. When did he change?? During the chase???"

"The Chicago Gay Alliance Newsletter noted, 'We do not mean to impugn the officers and we lack knowledge of the actual substance of the charges against Clay. Nevertheless, being shot eight times in the back strikes us as more than just a simple police action involving the minimum required force.' The CGA promised to urge the FBI to investigate the case. The article continued:

"Readers who question our intercession in what well may be a dubious case, or who ask why we involve ourselves when we are not a transvestite organization, are referred to a quotation by Pastor Martin Niemoller killed by the Nazis.

"They came after the Jews and I was not a Jew, so I did not object.

"Then they came after the Catholics, and I was not a Catholic so I did not object.

"Then they came after the Trade Unionists. I was not a Trade Unionist so I did not object."

"Then they came after me, and there was no-one left to object."

" … In April 1971 CGA received a letter from the FBI.

"This is in reply to your letter of February 16, 1971, concerning the killing of James Clay by two Chicago policemen.

"We received reports of the investigation into the circumstances surrounding his killing and after studying the reports, determined that the evidence did not warrant prosecution by the Civil Rights Division."

"It was signed Jerris Leonard, Assistant Attorney General Civil Rights Division and Maceo Hubbard, Supervisory Trial Attorney Criminal Section.

"The CGA insisted that, 'the matter does not end there, and further avenues are being explored to see what can be done.' Nothing came of it."

This is one of a continuing series of excerpts from Chicago After Stonewall: Gay Lib to Gay Life, a new book by St Sukie de la Croix. You can buy the book from Amazon.com, all good bookstores, and for a signed copy, rattlinggoodyarns.com .


This article shared 715 times since Mon Apr 26, 2021
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