“White Democrats will desert their party in droves the minute it becomes a black party.”
Kevin Phillips, The Emerging Republican Majority, 1969
Having climbed through a basement window, the 35 year old black intruder explored the home for over an hour, pilfering drawers and ransacking closets. But the thrill of the violation fell short this time, and after carrying an answering machine and a coffee maker to the basement the trespasser returned to the kitchen. He stole a knife from the kitchen drawer and a beer from the refrigerator and went upstairs. In the bedroom he found a handgun. And twenty minutes after seven he heard the front door open. William Horton pulled his ski mask down and slipped behind the bedroom door.
It was Friday, 3 July, 1987, in the suburb of Oxon Hill, Maryland, 2 miles south of the District of Colombia. The 35,000 residents were mostly middle class apartments dwellers but lately included a growing number of Young Upwardly Mobile couples in “starter” homes. A generation later the process would be described as “Gentrification”.
Clifford Barnes locked the front door behind him and removed his tie and shirt while climbing the stairs to the 2nd floor bathroom. The 28 year old white male was undressing to shower, when he heard movement in the hall. He called out, “Angi?” In response the door exploded inward, and a 6'3” tall man burst into the bathroom, screaming. Horton knocked Clifford down and pistol whipped him with his own gun.
The social changes in Oxon Hill, mirrored the 20 year old predictions of Republican strategist Kevin Price Phillips. Early excerpts from his first book, “The Emerging Republican Majority” were shared within the 1968 Richard Nixon Presidential campaign. As Phillips later explained his “Southern Strategy” to the New York Times, “The more Negroes who register as Democrats... the sooner the “Negrophobe” whites will...become Republicans. That's where the votes are.” He offered only one caveat: Republicans would be shortsighted if they weakened the new Voting Rights Act.
Ignoring that warning Nixon's Chief of Staff Harry Robinson (H.R.) Halderman (above, left) enunciated the policy in his own way. “The whole problem is really the blacks. The key is to devise a system that recognized this while not appearing to".
Binding Clifford's hands behind his back, Horton dragged the dazed man to the basement, where he strung him up to a floor brace. Then Horton jammed the gun into his victim's eyes and dragged a kitchen knife across his stomach 19 times, drawing blood. He spent 6 hours torturing Clifford Barnes, until he heard the front door open again.
The Southern Strategy was targeted at “Dixiecrats” like South Carolina's James Strom Thermond (above, center). In 1948, when fellow Democrat Harry Truman ordered the integration of the U.S. military, Thurmond ran against him for President as a States Rights Democrat, telling one crowd, “... there's not enough troops in the army to force the Southern people to break down segregation and admit the Nigra' race into our theaters...our swimming pools...our homes, and into our churches.” Thermond won 4 states and 39 electoral votes. In 1954, as a U.S. Senator, he staged a solitary 24 hour filibuster against Republican President Eisenhower's 1957 Civil Rights Act.
Angela Miller, Clifford's fiance, came home at 2:30 on the morning of Saturday, 4 July. She had been attending a girlfriend's birthday party and assumed that Clifford would be asleep. But when she walked into the 2nd floor bedroom she noticed a broken beer bottle and Clifford's eyeglasses lying on the floor. She retreated into the hallway, where William Horton shoved the gun into her face. He dragged her by the throat back into the bedroom, and threw her onto the bed. After tying her hands behind her back and blindfolding her, he ripped her shirt off and then using the knife sliced off her jeans. Then he beat and raped her.
Arizona Senator Barry Morris Goldwater (above) won the contested Republican nomination in 1964, in large part because he had argued against Lyndon Johnson's 1964 Voting Rights Act. Goldwater did not endorse racism but rationalized supporting it in order to court the racist Strom Thurmond, who sited Democratic support for the new law to justify switching to the Republican Party.
That November, while Johnson won a landslide victory nationwide, Goldwater carried only his home state and the segregated deep south – Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Strom Thurmond's South Carolina.
After the rape Angela Miller struggled to hold onto her sanity. She asked her masked attacker for a beer. Horton walked her downstairs to the refrigerator. Then she asked him if they could watch some television, and, again, Horton agreed. As they sat in the living room she made a grab for the gun. Horton beat her again, and raped her again. In the basement Clifford could hear his fiance's screams.
When the 1968 Republican Convention opened in Miami Richard Nixon (above right) was still 11 votes short of 667 needed to secure the nomination. When Strom Thermond (above, left) suggested that Nixon name Maryland Governor Spiro Agnew as his vice President, Nixon agreed. The 22 votes from South Carolina secured Nixon's victory on the first ballot. From that point forward, Thurmond was the "indispensable man" in the Nixon administration and the poison pill of racism was now baked into Republican ideology.
Having raped and badly beaten Angela twice in a few hours, a rested William Horton felt the need to return his attention to his basement prisoner. But once downstairs he discovered that Barnes had escaped. Suddenly not in control, Horton panicked. Forgetting his female victim he shoved the few stolen appliances through the basement window, and loaded them into Barnes' Camero, He then drove off in the car.
It was the stolen car that was spotted by Prince George County Police Corporal Paul Lopez. He chased the Camero at high speed. When it crashed, a man emerged holding the hand gun. Corporal Lopez ordered the suspect to drop the gun and when he didn't the officer fired, hitting the suspect in the stomach and arm. Shortly thereafter one year veteran Corporal Yusuf Mhuammad (above) arrested the wounded suspect in the backyard of nearby home.
He was taken to the hospital for treatment, where he was photographed and eventually identified as William J. Horton. But he would become famous as “Willie Horton”. And just like Strom Thurmond, he was from South Carolina.