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Son of slain Mississippi cop: Jan. 6 panel chairman Bennie Thompson 'hates police officers'

Bill Skinner, a former officer and judge, recounts effort to blame his father for his own 1971 shooting death at the hands of an extreme black secessionist group.

Published: October 6, 2021 2:11pm

Updated: October 6, 2021 11:10pm

Bill Skinner has seen plenty of bad and good in his life as a police officer and then a judge in Mississippi. But few memories remain more pronounced than the week his father, a police lieutenant, was shot dead by a group of revolutionary black secessionists during the turbulent summer of 1971.

Most poignant, Skinner told Just the News, is the day a group of black leaders that included now-U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson held a news conference blaming his father, Lt. W. Louis Skinner, for causing his own death by serving a set of court-approved warrants on the headquarters of the Republic of New Africa, a group the FBI believed wanted to wage guerrilla warfare on U.S. soil.

"I was actually just 12 years old," Skinner recalled in an interview Wednesday on the John Solomon Reports podcast. "You know, you're watching all this stuff. And you know, you're trying to comprehend, right? And they're sitting there talking about your father being at fault for getting himself shot. And it's mind-boggling, you know."

The press conference, captured in half-century old newspaper clips, was so inflammatory, Skinner said, that police feared activists might try to harm his mother and brothers and put them into protective custody.

"They hid us out for several weeks after he got killed, because they were worried about retaliation," he said. "For years, my family was, you know, had been threatened by all these different things."

Just the News tracked down and interviewed Skinner, who retired from the bench in 2018 after four decades of public service as an officer and judge, after the news site published a story on Thompson's support and sympathies for RNA, a group that was involved in several violent crimes in the late 1960s and 1970s, including the shootings of police officers and an FBI agent.

Skinner's father was one of the slain, shot on Aug. 18, 1971 as police and FBI agents tried to serve a warrant on the group's headquarters in Jackson, Miss.

Now the chairman of the House Jan. 6 Select Committee, Thompson has embraced the law enforcement officers who were injured during the Capitol riot and condemned the event as an insurrection. But Skinner said Thompson's current public posture conflicts with his past in Mississippi as an alderman, including his participation in a news conference where black activists blamed Skinner's father for his own death.

"I don't think there's probably a more anti-cop person or anti-police-officer person in the country than Bennie," said Skinner, who noted that Thompson sometimes spent money unsuccessfully trying to defeat Skinner's own campaigns for judge.

"He's not pro-cop," Skinner emphasized. "The only reason he's doing this is because of his hatred of Donald Trump." 

Recalling that "Nancy Pelosi put somebody that had sex with a Chinese spy" on the Intelligence Committee, Skinner gibed, "I mean, she's gonna put Bennie Thompson who hates police officers over this committee."

House Speaker Pelosi rejected two of the GOP's picks to serve on what was supposed to have been a bipartisan Jan. 6 investigative panel, prompting House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to withdraw all the Republican leadership's selections for the committee.

Thompson's Jan. 6 committee "has nothing to do with police," said Skinner. "His whole objective is to try to get Donald Trump, and it's sad what they're doing. I mean, it's sad that this is a witch hunt. And it's shameful. I can't, I cannot personally watch it. Because I can't watch Bennie Thompson sit there and spew this BS out of his mouth."

Cedric Maxwell, a spokesman for Thompson's congressional office, did not respond to a request for comment. Thompson is chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee in addition to his supervision of the Jan. 6 select committee.

Skinner and his two younger brothers followed their father's footsteps into law enforcement. The eldest sibling, Bill Skinner was eventually injured on the job and forced to retire. That's when he ran for judge and won, serving 18 years on the bench.

He said the defund the police movement waged by liberals in recent years bothers his conscience, leaving a sense of justice unserved even after eight members of RNA were convicted and sent to prison in connection with his father's slaying.

Skinner noted that his own former police department in Jackson, Miss., has endured deep budget cuts at the hands of a mayor, Chokwe Lumumba, who is the son of a former leader of the RNA, the group whose members killed Skinner's father.

"It's been 50 years, and I don't think my family has gotten justice," Skinner told Just the News. "I don't believe that has happened. Anytime you can have Bennie Thompson sitting as the chair of Homeland Security over this insurrection, or whatever they want to call this, that's not justice."

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