Mississippi investigators said Thursday that they are trying to find people who might have been involved in a road dispute just before a crash that killed a black man wearing a Confederate military hat.
Anthony Hervey, 49, of Oxford, died Sunday when the Ford Explorer he was driving left a Mississippi highway and landed upside down. Investigators issued a statement asking for the public’s help in locating the occupants of a silver car who might have been involved in a dispute with Hervey just before the crash.
They said no marks from a silver vehicle were found on the black SUV.
“Another witness who observed the crash stated she saw the Explorer leave the roadway and crash, but could not confirm the presence of another vehicle,” a Highway Patrol statement said.
The vehicle’s owner, Arlene Barnum of Stuart, Oklahoma, survived. She was traveling in the passenger seat.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Barnum said she and Hervey both spoke at a Saturday event in support of a Confederate monument in Birmingham, Alabama. Barnum, who is black, said she burned a NAACP membership card at the event.
She said that before the wreck Sunday, Hervey sped up to avoid a silver car carrying four or five black men who appeared angry at him. Barnum couldn’t identify the type of car or give a license plate number.
Barnum said that on the ride home Sunday, Hervey was wearing a Confederate kepi, or military hat, when he stopped at a convenience store. Shortly after that, she said the highway confrontation started between the people in the other car and Hervey.
“I could have sworn that they knew him because of his reaction to them,” Barnum told the AP on Monday.
She said she was injured in the wreck and was briefly hospitalized in Oxford before returning to Oklahoma.
Hervey was well known in north Mississippi for his support of the Confederate battle flag and for the state flag that includes the emblem. For years, he has carried the rebel flag on the courthouse square in Oxford and on the University of Mississippi campus.
In Hervey’s 2006 book, “Why I Wave the Confederate Flag, Written by a Black Man,” he said the Civil War was not fought over slavery and that he was supporting black soldiers who fought for the South in the Civil War.
In its statement, the Highway Patrol identified the passenger in the Explorer as Juliette A. Barnum. However, Barnum said that in interviews and public appearances, she goes by Arlene Barnum.
SOURCE: EMILY WAGSTER PETTUS