Free Gary Tyler


The Nation, a publication the assiduous reader knows I follow with some regularity, has sent me this mail:

Gary Tyler, black, now aged 48, is serving a life prison sentence in Louisiana State Penitentiary. He was convicted in 1975 for the murder of 13-year-old Timothy Weber, a white schoolboy who was shot during an attack by a white mob on a school bus filled with black students. Tyler, who was 16 at the time of the incident, has consistently denied involvement in the crime. Since his trial, serious doubts have been raised about the evidence on which he was convicted, according to Amnesty International.

As Bob Hébert wrote in the first of a series of three New York Times‘ columns on Tyler, “That single shot in this rural town about 25 miles up the Mississippi River from New Orleans set in motion a tale of appalling injustice that has lasted to the present day.” Hébert’s reporting has helped revive interest in the case and and given the miscarriage of justice new visibility.

Building on this momentum, Nation sportswriter Dave Zirin recently contacted people from the world of sports to ask if they would stand with Tyler at this critical time. And they have responded.


This is the text of the athletes’ letter to Governor Kathleen Blanco:

We, the undersigned members of the sports community, call upon you, in the name of justice and racial reconciliation, to pardon Gary Tyler and free him from Angola prison. Gary is an innocent man who has spent 32 of his 48 years on earth behind bars for a crime he did not commit. Gary’s life has been destroyed because of racial hysteria and that peculiar brand of police work known internationally as “Southern Justice.”

As you are undoubtedly aware, New York Times columnist Bob Hébert has spent the last month exposing the terrifying truth behind Gary’s conviction. In 1975, Gary Tyler, an African-American teenager, was convicted by an all-white jury for the murder of Timothy Weber, a thirteen-year-old white youth. Weber was shot and killed during a busing riot where 200 whites attacked Gary’s school bus. Weber’s death quite understandably sent shock waves across the state. The police needed a killer. They chose Gary and his nightmare officially began. Gary’s mother detailed to Hébert the sounds of listening to deputies at the police station savagely whipping her son, while they blocked her from entering the room. “They beat Gary so bad,” she said. “My poor child. I couldn’t do nothing.” Every witness who identified Gary as the shooter has since recanted and alleged police intimidation. The gun supposedly used on that day has disappeared.

In the mid-1970s, Gary’s case mobilized thousands across the country for his freedom and led Amnesty International to declare him a “political prisoner.” Denied a fair trial 32 years ago, imprisoned for life for a crime he did not commit–we call upon you to free Gary Tyler now.


You, too, can write Governor Kathleen Blanco, asking for Gary Tyler’s immediate release.

Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, Governor
P.O. Box 94004
Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9004

Telephone Numbers:
225-342-0991 or 225-342-7015


The letters will help, although Blanco is apparently not empowered to act alone upon this matter.


12 thoughts on “Free Gary Tyler

  1. Amy Goodman also did a piece on Gary, on the March 1 Democracy Now:

    And the Monthly Review ran an article last August:

    The National Jericho Movement is talking about him:

    And he has a good website, with his picture, at !!!

    Could it be things are heating up for a pardon?

  2. You actually talked with Gary Tyler? How did that happen?

    What’s the status of the case now, March 2015?

    How can I get in touch with Innocence Project about Gary’s case?

    Who there to talk to?

    1. I joined the Committee to Free Gary Tyler in 1991 or 1992, in New Orleans, and have been acquainted with Gary since. At present what he needs is for a governor to pardon him. For technical reasons proof of innocence does not matter. Innocence project, I am not sure whom to contact, maybe Barry Scheck himself. Mary Howell of N.O. is Gary’s lawyer. The question is how to get to someone who could get to the governor. Convince someone who could convince the governor to sign. NB we will also get a new governor soon; I am not sure what he or she will be like. The current one is quite bad.

  3. Well, yes, I’ve known Gary since 1987.

    I know a lot about his case, etc.

    I know a lot about the effort to keep his name “alive” — as it was “dying” circa 1987…. in NO, LA and LA, and entire USA.

    Yes. I know of Amnesty and tons and tons of coverage of his case.

    Yes, I did tons of work with Mary to keep support alive for Gary.

    Yes, clearly I know Mary, too, since 1987.

    You joined [cfgt] committee in 1991? or 92? Quite interesting.

    Seems there was a lot of activity around that time — head scratch.

    Yes, I know Barry Scheck; ran into him on the street, NYC, the other day.

    Also met Peter N., and I’ve worked with Innocence Project NYC on a murder case.

    And there seem to be some assumptions about the Innocence Project and Gary’s case. Lots of unclear ideas and assumptions about IP and Gary Tyler’s case. Too bad; this case, Gary’s case, needs a lot more clarity.

    And dat’s all I will say. Many assumptions going on and Gary is about to turn 57.

    1. I am guessing you may know more than I do about what happened with the IP. Now that one can only be on one visiting list and there are no DR seminars, I am on Nathaniel C.’s list only and can only see Gary to talk to is if I go to the crafts fair and catch up with him at the Drama Club food stand. That still means only being able to talk in a fragmentary way.

      M K I think I know who you are, I think you know who I am, and I think you know I would be happy to be in touch directly. If you would like to be less mysterious about what the assumptions are about IP, Gary’s case, etc., I would be glad. I know you know that a lot of people do not understand about running out of appeals, are horrified that a mistake at trial can mean a conviction regardless of what the truth is, and so on.

      1. Do you mean this (from the 2007 era, when this post was written), or is there something more recent?

        There was even more press in 2006 and 2007 and I really don’t know what happened. At that time Mary’s view was that someone had to get to (then governor) Blanco. This failed and it appears nothing has been able to happen under Jindal. Anyway Maureen, if you would like to write off site, you’ve got email from me in your thxkatrina box.

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