What Happened To Rex Henry In A Philadelphia, Mississippi Jail Cell?

Dave Johnson

Rexdale Wayne Henry, a Mississippi Choctaw Native American activist, was arrested on July 9 for failing to pay an old traffic fine. He was found dead in his Philadelphia, Mississippi jail cell on July 14. What happened?

Sources say Rex Henry was running for tribal council, trying to get casino money used for things like schools, housing, elder care, language revitalization, and jobs training. There is little information available on Henry’s death and any resulting investigation.

There is not much information available. Here is a roundup.

WTOK.com, July 14, “Jail Death Under Investigation”:

An inmate was found dead at the Neshoba County Jail Tuesday morning.

Authorities say 53-year-old Rexdale Henry of Philadelphia was found by officers just after 10 a.m. He was last seen alive around 9:30.

An autopsy is being performed and the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation is looking into the death.

The Neshoba Democrat, July 14: Man dies in county jail, adds that “Sheriff Tommy Waddell said Henry was in jail for failure to pay old fines.”

Jackson Free Press, Juy 25: “Death of Choctaw Activist Rexdale Henry in Neshoba Jail Prompts Private Autopsy”:

Helping with the family’s independent probe are civil-rights activists John Steele, a close friend of Henry’s, and Diane Nash, a cofounder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, as well as Syracuse University law professors Janis McDonald and Paula Johnson of the school’s Cold Case Justice Initiative.

“At a time when the nation is focused on the terrible circumstances of the brutal death of Sandra Bland, it is critical to expose the many ways in which Black Americans, Native Americans and other minorities are being arrested for minor charges and end up dead in jail cells,” McDonald said in a statement.

… Information from a SNCC email listserv states of Henry: “His family wants to know what or who caused their healthy, fifty-three year old loved one to die in that cell.”

Indian Country Today Network, July 28, “Here Is What We Know About the Death of Choctaw Medicine Man Rexdale W. Henry,” gives a roundup of information, adding only this to the above: “The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians has not released a statement on the death of Henry.”

Perhaps the lack of coverage is itself newsworthy.

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